Through the material of his coat he felt for the bundle of her letters. I’ll wait for you. Come back. The words were not meaningless, but they didn’t touch him now. It was clear enough - one person waiting for another was like an arithmetical sum, and just as empty of emotion. Waiting. Simply one person doing nothing, over time, while other approached. Waiting was a heavy word. He felt it pressing down, heavy as a greatcoat. Everyone in the cellar was waiting, everyone on the bench. She was waiting, yes, but then what?
… Arithmetic be damned. I’ll wait for you was elemental. It was the reason he had survived. It was the ordinary way of saying she would refuse all other men. Only you. Come back.