August 14th

Felix relaxed into the pew, he was extremely happy. Thanks to the excellent reception his thesis had received, he would get funding for his next research project, a study of Kafka’s critical reception in communist East Germany. This would mean at least three years’ research, an undergraduate teaching position at Cambridge, and an exchange with Humboldt University in Berlin. Furthermore, Felix, a keen middle distance runner, had just yesterday ran the mile in 4.09.21 – under 4.10, and nearly 5 five seconds faster than his previous best. His “dream” of running under 4 minutes suddenly now seemed possible again. Tonight he was meeting Susan for the concert, Mozart’s piano concerto number 24, on the Southbank. He remembered the sheer exhilaration of last time: during the interval, filled with the beauty of the music passed and coming; and of her company, her joyful wide smile, open to the world – and going out onto the terrace, the breeze of the Thames, the animation of the city, the night sky closing in and spreading out before them. Heaven and Earth were indeed full of the glory of God, and his exuberance. It was the feast day of the St Maximilian Kolbe. During the homily, Felix was suddenly filled with the awesome, dreadful and very simple thought of offering his death for anothers’ life, of giving up all that lay before him – the study, the running, Susan – and he knew that he was no saint, and that his love for God was certainly very finite, and he bowed his head.

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