Then the midwife takes her out of my hands. She weighs and measures her. She notes the results on a form. Then she inspects her from head to toe. I watch from my bed. I see how she puts a finger on my daughter’s back and remains silent. It is a fraction of a second, but long enough to make me realize something is not right.
‘What do you see?’ I ask.
She points to a spot on the back. A small, soft, rosy little bump. She pushes on it with her finger. As soon as she removes it, the spot turns blue. The color of a small lake in the woods, around midday.
‘What is it?’ I ask.
‘I don’t know,’ she says, while she lays the finger on her back once again. ‘I have never seen this before.’
She picks up the form again and begins to write. It is the middle of the night. The walls move closer, the room closes in upon us.’
‘What are you writing?’ I ask.
‘That she has a little spot,’ she says.
‘What exactly are you writing?’ I ask.
She turns her head towards me. Her expression offers no reassurance.
Charlotte is Pia de Jong’s deeply personal account in which she shares the story of the year she took care of her terminally-ill, newborn daughter within the secure cocoon of her family. She had been told to prepare for the worst. Instead, she chose love. Overwhelming love.
Pia de Jong (1961) debuted in 2008 with the poignant novel Long Days, for which she won the Golden Owl Prize from Dutch readers. Fear of Depth followed in 2010. She has been living in Princeton (USA) since 2012 and writes about her life there in a Dutch newspaper, NRC Handelsblad, and in her book Flessenpost. She is married to physicist Robbert Dijkgraaf, a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study. Together, they have three children.
World English Rights: Elizabeth Kerr (W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.)
‘Fabulously beautiful.’ Dagblad de Limburger *****
About Long Days:
‘A literary surprise that only comes along once every ten years. Dutch literature can finally add another writer.’ HP/De Tijd