One day, Anna’s father introduces Thomas to his friend Simon Goldberg. Thomas tells Mr. Goldberg that he’s trying to be a sculptor. Mr. Goldberg proclaims that “trying is being.” Anna and Thomas go behind the shed and kiss. As they have sex for the first time, Thomas hears Anna’s father working out the details of hiding Mr. Goldberg in the shed. Anna lets out a cry, and Thomas asks if she’s upset. She says it hurt.
Every morning, Thomas and Grandma go into the guest room to read through Grandma’s memoir. Grandma has nothing more to write in her life story because nothing happens any more. Thomas suggests writing about her feelings, and she explains that her feelings are her life story.
Before Thomas leaves the house on the day he writes this letter, Grandma shows him the dedication to her life story and asks if it’s too much. He touches her with his right hand to say, “No.” He promises he’ll be home before she falls asleep. He wishes he could live two lives and, in one of them, stay with her and the living. Grandma tells him she loves him. He tries to tell her he doesn’t love her by taking her index fingers and moving them toward each other, but never allowing them to touch.
He’s leaving because Grandma has chosen to live, and he can’t. He plans to mail these pages to Grandma before he gets on the plane and then never write again.
He writes in his notebook that he wants to buy a ticket to Dresden. The next few pages have one sentence each on them, revealing half of a conversation. Presumably, Grandma has arrived. He tells her to go home.
Thomas, like Oskar, tries and fails to use rules and the elimination of ambiguity to cope with his grief. As in Chapter 2, Thomas’s communication relies on short, concrete expressions, and here he expands that tendency with the delineation of space into “something” and “nothing.” The way he notices that something and nothing aren’t so easily separated brings to mind Oskar’s desire to rank the people he loves. Both actions attempt to make emotions quantifiable but do not succeed in doing so. Accordingly, Thomas notices that these two opposite concepts, something and nothing, don’t separate as easily as he would like, demonstrating that ambiguity is an inevitable fact of life. In particular, he notes that a “nothing” vase sometimes casts a “something” shadow, highlighting the way the intangible—like sadness or memories—still has very real consequences. This image also harkens back to the way Oskar finds physical excuses, like bruises and diabetes, for his pain. Both Thomas and Oskar struggle with emotional pain.