One day as Franz entered through the gates of the park, he saw a young girl sobbing. He walked up to her. She was one of those little blond flowers with white skin and red cheeks that grow so abundantly in these parts. He asked her:
“Why are you crying?”
“I’ve lost my doll.”
“You haven’t lost it,” he says.
“Did you find it?”
“No, no, I didn’t find it. Your doll went off on a trip.”
“How do you know that?”
“She wrote me a letter.”
“I left it at home. But if you want, I’ll bring it tomorrow, at three o’clock. In front of this bench.”
“What’s your name?”
“Franz. And yours?”
Once back at his house, he asked himself what his sister Ottla would say to her eldest daughter if the child ever lost her doll, Lolotte, which she kept clutched to her heart even in the soundest sleep.
The following day at the appointed time, Malou and Franz met in front of the bench. He raised his hat in greeting and handed her an envelope, on which he had written her name and stuck a canceled stamp.
Malou shrugged. “I don’t know how to read.”
He read it for her. The doll ended her letter with the words: “Hugs and kisses, I’ll write you every day.”
Malou thought for a moment before asking: “Does that mean you’ll bring me another letter tomorrow?”
Excerpted from Kafka in Love by Jacqueline Raoul-Duval. Copyright © 2012 by Jacqueline Raoul-Duval. Excerpted by permission of Other Press, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.