The Lady at the bar (4)

November 27 – December 1, 2014

(a shared writing effort with Lars Epperson)

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Arms outstretched towards the sky, he had quickened his pace and was almost running now towards the house as if he meant to embrace it. Something seemed to have changed in his mood and she wondered how one could shift from such a sense of grief to such a sense of glee without a transition.

Suddenly he stopped in his tracks and turned towards her. He did not seem to see her but was not looking right through her either. It was more as if he was lost in his thoughts and she was a substitute to the person who seemed to occupy them. He smiled at her, a smile that was all at once innocent, roguish and so disarmingly charming before speaking.

“Do you remember the old house? It was Sunday dinners; a tradition he wanted to keep: fried chicken mashed potatoes and gravy too much cooked to eat, worried him still, never quite able to carry it on.

Kids always seemed to busy the house where you pulled open your blouse.

– Do you like these?

– Uh, yes, think so, but never seen them outside playboy magazine

– Kiss them

Swimming in the creek, headlights shining on your nakedness…”

She listened to him as he alternated mimicking his role and that of the woman he had loved apparently, completely lost in his memories.

“Damn! Hated you/loved you; give me one more chance to nibble on your neck, down lower to your full breasts… I really need to make love to you, one last time”

She listened, not sure he was referring to his past love or to her as he seemed to be describing the love-hate relationship he had with her. Did he nibble on all his girlfriends’ necks? she wondered. She thought quietly about her own love habits and how it seemed that all human beings seemed to have their favourite likes and dislikes that did not really depend upon their partner’s likes and dislikes although they often had to make an effort to blend their favourites with their partner’s favourites.

What an intricate thing, she thought, this lovemaking where everyone was so different yet so similar. How was it that people even related to each other and were able to carry on feeling the same passion year after year if the things they did were so similar from one year to another, from one partner to another?

She was stopped from her daydreaming as she felt his gaze intensify on her and she lifted her eyes which caught his that seemed dark, brooding.

He looked at her, watched the wind play upon the tall grass blowing it first this way then that and wanted to tell her something but instead thought to himself “so many things I forgot to tell you.  Did I forget to tell you I love you?”

He gazed at her, saw her eyes widening and felt her searching him as he was searching her.

Again he wanted to say all those words to her but they just ran around in his chest as he talked to the image of her in his mind “Looking into your eyes, see the reflection, another time maybe someone new… shadows passing. I feel it fade. Yesterday, you would have wanted me to make love to you”.

She could feel that he meant to say something and she desperately wanted him to say it aloud but he seemed to be all at once lost in his own world and trying so hard to reach out to her and share with her his feelings.

He watched her expressions as her face changed from troubled to hopeful to pained to bewildered and he wanted to kiss her, to reassure her that everything was alright, that it had been a fleeting moment and that he was there for her like he had been for so long, like he would always be but the words failed him again.

He knew somehow that it wasn’t true and that this relationship between them that wavered between love and hate was bound to tear them apart and he realised that all the words in the world would do nothing to change that.

He smiled again at her, sadly, with the knowledge that the sense of heartbreak he felt was probably the one her eyes were conveying too as deep pools stirred in them with the downpour approaching. He thought softly to himself as he opened his arms to her and she ran on the backdrop of grass blowing in the wind “I know you won’t be here long; goodbyes, gotten good at them but hate that wait. Is it you, or me that goes first?”.

He held her tightly and felt again that mixture of bliss and pain as her curves melted into his body and he was submerged by her warmth and softness while at the same time realising that not too long after that they would be separated again. For now though, he whispered to himself as they clung on to each other and her tears spilled all over his shoulders “it is not over yet, it is not goodbye”.

Reading of this episode of the story: 

372-le-matin-9

 

Read the next part of the story “The Lady at the Bar (5)  here – https://geethaprodhom.wordpress.com/english-novels/the-lady-at-the-bar-5/

The Lady at the bar (3)

November 22, 2014

(a shared writing effort with Lars Epperson)

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Pulling up into the old home place. Lightning, off in the distance, waiting for the rain to hit the tin roof. Simple sounds, back in a life that once used to mean so much.

He quit caring; pain never overcame, came no more, left it on the doorstep, last time he walked out.

Waking; coffee on the porch. A whistle….there used to be dogs. He whistled, once again…nothing!

He watched her pull her dress up to her knees; grass grown tall brown, sullen feet, wet with dew.

She followed him, lifting her dress so that it would not get torn by the grass that had grown almost into bushes, dry, crackling as she walked through its bristles.

He seemed hypnotised by the house in front of him towards which they were both walking silently. She could see from the stiffness at his neck and shoulders that he seemed to be in pain.

She wondered what that small run-down shack of a house with its small holes like a bean bag bursting at the edges could have held for him to be so much in pain at the sight of it.

All of a sudden he started whistling, as if to beckon a dog but nothing came. She watched silently as his shoulders hung in sadness and wondered if she should keep following him.

Yesterday, she would have gone up to him boldly and put her arms around him to make whatever pain he felt go away but today, after their fight and despite his seeming to forgive her, she felt that somehow she had no place in that pain he seemed to be feeling.

She slowed her pace and the leaves seemed to rustle even noisier as she toyed with the idea of running towards him and throwing her arms around his neck.

He had slowed down too, his back still tense, shoulders hung, head still facing the house and he raised his arms towards the sky

 

 

 

The Lady at the bar

November 7, 2014

(a shared writing effort with Lars Epperson)

Ladyatthebar1a

She made many promises and I remember when we were driving looking out the window…

It was noon on a sunny day, one of her favourite moments when every living being was lulled into a silent sense of security that brought with it a sleepy lazy feeling.

Sun kissed thighs dark shades on, so she couldn’t see me looking; wouldn’t want to give her the satisfaction. A bottle of beam, shirt worn one day too many crumpled pack of Marlboros

She stretched and looked back at the driver who was holding on to the steering wheel like his life depended upon it. Ever since their argument that morning, they had been ignoring each other stonily. He pretending not to see or hear her and she pretending it did not matter as she strutted around in one of his favourite figure-hugging skirts. She knew he would notice as she barely wore skirts but he had of course chosen to ignore the flash of thighs revealed as she entered the passenger seat next to him. She looked out of the window again letting her hair dangle loosely over the side of the car so that the sun could play with its wisps

Fresh tank of gas so… where’re we going. Let’s take a spin, see how far this fast car can take us, looking for that last chance Texaco.

Outside the car, everything was alive with noise, the birds chirped cheerily, the grasshoppers sang, the bees buzzed around in frenzy and even the flowers seemed to say hi as they waved in the wind. Yet Inside the car, only the sound of the engine came through to them. She looked at him again; he seemed to be engrossed in his own thoughts now and not ignoring her. She wondered what he was thinking as he seemed to be puzzled. Her eyes lingered on the corners of his mouth that had been so soft when she had kissed them the night before and thought about how they had yielded to her lips hungrily while they were pressed tightly this morning, hard, unyielding…

 

 

Doll Tale 3: Leaving is living, Matilda

Doll tale 3: Leaving is living, Matilda

6 October 2014

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She thought that she would never have the time to leave before he came back. The events of the previous day raced through her mind as colours that would clash at the bottom of a kaleidoscope. The more she thought of escaping, the more she felt petrified. It seemed to her that there was no way out and she felt like a piece of Emmenthal squeezed in a sandwich between the two hot plates of a toaster which inevitably would make her melt, doing away with her.

To leave, to leave, to leave. She brooded over the word to the exasperation of her mind that revolted against her incessant litanies, her tiresome indecision. To leave yes, but to leave without a quest, without the possibility of winning… ​​ What for? To leave, but how to leave and how to organize oneself, what to do?  These thoughts incessantly ran through her mind like an infernal rondo making her feel dizzy.

Matilda was pacing in front of her car and could not bring herself to slip behind the wheel and take to her heels with her baby asleep in his baby seat. She suddenly stopped pacing, unbuckled her baby turned around and went back into the house. It would not do them any good to drive in her condition and she might as well take the train later she thought. She put the toddler back in his crib and he continued to sleep undisturbed. He had suckled his mother for so long that he was completely satisfied and had fallen into a deep, restful sleep. She stroked his cheek before heading down to the kitchen. Mechanically she took out the broom, vacuum, bucket and various liquids to clean floors and other household items and began to clean.

Everything was a victim of her zealous cleaning from the floor to the ceiling not forgetting the curtains, the dishes and the children’s toys littering the living room floor. She paused for a moment, realizing that she was stacking everything she was tidying into a pile of five. Today’s pain, for some reason, made her mind wander to the digit five.

Five. The five children she would have had if one of them did not fall following a ski accident the year before leaving the twin free to develop in her belly and if the first, a long time ago, had not come out without a sound. Five if that first one, as dead as her heart had not been ejected at five and a half months in a creepy delivery where death triumphed over life. Giving birth to death, trying to smother one’s five senses to keep no memory of that moment and yet having that memory forever etched in one’s mind and through the five senses so alive at that time: the pain of her flesh, the vision of the doctor, of the pale white ceiling, the smell of ammonia and that more characteristic medical scent of hospitals, the sound that did not come, deafening to the ear despite her knowing that no noise would be there and the words, irritatingly encouraging, oppressive, unnecessary of the midwife who kept asking to push again and again because it would soon be over.

She stood up angrily and ran down to the basement where she vented her grief. She felt that she should as if by patriotic inclination go to war against the cobwebs and dust bunnies she had left to accumulate in the basement of her house during the aftermath of her pregnancy. These grey and sad dirtballs that rose out of the basement when she shook the rugs made ​​her think about the quirky songs of the past that her husband would mention to her and that, for her, were just as crass as those dust bunnies despite the fact that he thought they were funny and light jokes. She furiously shook the carpets which seemed to release a never ending trail of dirt in the air. How much dirt could these rugs still conceal she thought angrily.

She thought to herself that if she had known before she would have got rid of that gunk for it was not a light joke but a solid reality of today. Did he say a slight madness of yesterday? No, a reality of today, she thought banging the carpet she still held while her tears mingled freely with the particles of dirt coming out of the carpet and fell heavily to the ground or caused the dust to be again made ​​prisoner of the carpet. This floor was really going to keep a very vivid trace of her battle she thought. Everything had been removed, dusted, polished and re-shelved.

She took a deep breath and walked towards the kitchen in a daze where she rinsed her hands and mechanically prepared three sandwiches for the children coming home from school hungry and their nanny who would accompany them home before she left for the day. She then turned towards the mop realizing she had forgotten to remove the water on the floor. As she seized the mop, she reached towards the refrigerator to try to close the door before falling on her back nursing her elbow from the electric shock. She had forgotten that there was still that bad contact problem that her husband had not taken care of and that she had been standing with bare feet in the middle of a pool of water. The current passing through her body had dazed her but had also stopped dead in its tracks her furious housewife’s urge. She stood up, gingerly feeling her heavy and painful hand and proceeded to finish drying the water to prevent one of the children having to endure the same incident.

She walked slowly down the stairs to the basement to see if she had forgotten something. The cardboard box she had left in the middle of the room not knowing if she should bring its content up or leave it down caught her eye. It was a box full of old vinyl albums and on the top of the pile there was an album of ABBA and something broke in her at the sight of this palindrome. ABBA made her think of ABC and she had missed the ABC of all the signs, the ABC of sniffing those clues of treachery was what she had missed out. She grabbed the disc as well as all the others inside the box and began methodically to break them into two.

She then proceeded to the cellar, opened the door with the key hanging on a nail in the wall to the left side of the handle and looked at the bottles that adorned the wall: the “grand cru” bordeaux for special occasions were rubbing shoulders with “côtes du Rhone”, “blanc de blanc”, bottles of champagne, a few rare costly burgundy wines among other cheaper wines. She did not drink but if there was an occasion to celebrate she thought bitterly, it was this one. How to solve this dilemma? She took the first bottle of overpriced Champagne that met her nervous fingers and that her husband had asked her not to open unless he gave her the permission to do so. “Yes, what a good idea”, she said to herself, “let us pop the cork of the champagne like in olden times slicing its top off” but she realized that the Samurai sword was in the bedroom so she resorted to the wall. She drank a few drops cutting herself at the edge of the lips in the process. She took another bottle, a Chateau Margaux with a deep robe that went crashing against the white wall of the wine cellar. Many other bottles suffered a similar fate as she continued her relentless task.

When she left the cellar, the brackish unsavoury pond that decorated its floor kept emitting bubbles that she left to tremble and burst in the dark by turning off the light. She closed the door behind her and leaned against it, rubbing her temples with her fingers that were numb from that mechanical task earlier. She heard above her head footsteps and laughter as the children came home from school with their nanny. She looked at herself in the mirror of the cabinet of the cellar and was shocked to see her livid face smeared with tears and soot. Slowly she walked towards the basin of the laundry room and began to clean her sticky face and hands. She then stripped off her soiled clothes, took a light dress which was folded in a basket of items to be ironed on top of the washing machine and slipped it on. She then climbed two by two the stairs that separated her from her children and rushed toward them with open arms. “Mom! ” they cried in chorus and she pressed them against her heart.

As always they had so much to tell her and she was always surprised and amazed that they could have so much to tell her each time they returned from school. Yet the day before she had listened to their stories and marveled at how different they were from the day before that. Every day they experienced exciting new events and every day, they like her marveled at being able to experience such interesting events.

In his room, their brother had just woken up from a deep sleep after his vigorous suckling at noon. He let out a long wail of one who is hungry again and Matilda and her children looked at each other with a knowing air. “You’ll have to feed again this greedy little boy,” said her daughter with a mischievous grin. Matilda smiled softly and extended a hand towards her. “Will you come and help me change him?” she asked her daughter. Her eldest son followed loudly proclaiming that he too wanted to take care of his brother and that changing babies was not a task reserved for women. All three climbed the stairs leading to the plaintive sound of the little greedy one who was claiming his own personal pantry on feet. In three, they were quick to change his diaper, then the two children watched their mother settle into the big chair and her eldest put the nursing pillow under her elbow while her daughter adjusted the blankets around her little brother.

Matilda gently stroked the baby’s cheek and the small mouth opened to grasp the nourishing nipple. And while life flowed in the gulps that her son took, Matilda felt life gently flow back again into her heart as she devised a plan to leave.

Doll Tale 1: The painter and his muse

Doll tale 1 : The painter and his muse

18 and 19 September 2014

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Henry watched with half-closed eyes as his girlfriend scurried along to bring us the chilli flakes that she had forgotten in the kitchen. He did not seem very pleased of this new shortcoming and turned towards us with an apologetic sigh saying “you know, she is not very bright. In fact like most of her people she is quite simple minded and does not have the sophistication required to set out a table properly. Strange, however, that she would not know that this has to be served with some extra chilli flakes. Not all people like to eat bland food and that stupid idiot should know better as I have told her so at least a hundred times.”

Our common friend seated next to me had started feeling the atmosphere become a tad uneasy and shifting uncomfortably told Henry that it was perfectly alright and he was fine with the food as it was.

Henry simply retorted “Fine for you then but I can’t take this food like that. I eat spicier food than her you know”. His expression softened while he said this as he was visibly self-indulging in some gratifying thoughts about himself being such a tough guy.

Somehow, I could feel the food not going down well too but not for the same reason. I felt like saying that he should maybe cook the food to his own liking so that it won’t be an issue anymore but I just sat there gazing down stonily at my food as this was the first time I was there and had been invited by our common friend.

Malee came back from the kitchen bearing the chilli flakes in a bowl that she promptly handed over to Henry who simply growled at her playfully. I was expecting her to be rather put off by his behaviour and what he said as she surely would have heard him on her way to the kitchen with the apartment being the size it was but was amazed to see her draw closer to him and sit on his lap, eyes shining brightly. He merely smacked her bottom lightly and told her “you’ve escaped this time but next time I will really smack your bottom hard if you shame me in front of guests again. I’ve told you enough times how to serve the food here in Europe. You’re not in Thailand anymore where you can just mix it all at once. This time it was only friends but next time it could be buyers so don’t make me angry again.”

My gaze lifted to meet hers, eyes shining not with love like I had imagined but with a curious mixture of defiance and sadness. She seemed to be thinking I was judging her poorly and apparently resented me for it. I attempted a smile and trying to ease the tension complimented her on her cooking to which she nodded smiling back. We then resumed eating and once finished Henry showed me around the small apartment not as much for the actual rooms as it was a small two-bedrooms although with beautifully high ceilings and an amazing old wooden floor as one could only find in the old buildings in Geneva. The tour was more meant to show me his paintings which were quite astonishingly powerful depictions of the persons immortalized in them.

Henry was a brutish heavily built tall man with a tiny forehead, very small close set eyes and long hair he left loose as befitted his artist status. His hands which were huge seemed incapable of holding a brush properly let alone using it with such maestria to produce such powerful representations of other human beings. My attention was caught by two particularly striking paintings one of which caused me some embarrassment as it represented Malee crouching naked with her private parts fully exposed. In both he had captured that particular mixture of defiance and sadness that I had seen in her face earlier and her baby face with those liquid eyes seemed to be springing out of the paintings. Both paintings were bathed in dark colours with a deep crimson being a dominant theme as in most of his paintings.

“Lovely face and body right?” he said right behind me and I turned around startled to see him so close behind me.

“Don’t worry” he said mockingly “I am not going to jump on you as you came with a friend and I anyway have my hands full with Malee. At least for now” he added provokingly.

I rewarded his stupid comment with a crisp smile thinking to myself that he must be dreaming if he thought I would in any way be interested in him considering his caveman style of handling women.

We went back to the dining cum living room which was also the main room where he received his buyers and I asked my friend whether we could leave as I was quite tired.

A week later, we were invited to one of Henry’s expositions at a local gallery and I accompanied our common friend Peter who meanwhile had become my boyfriend. The place was crowded with sophisticated and glamorous people side by side with ill-shaven and shabbily dressed artists together with a few journalists and some art critics. There seemed to be some true art lovers but most seemed to have come to be seen and enjoy the wine and delicacies being served. Everywhere there were paintings of Malee some of them very provocative and some where she dumbfounded me with the pure innocence that emanated from her face in the paintings. For the male audience, this seemed to have a very different effect than on me where I was merely considering the human aspect of things. All the men were gathered around her, eyes fixated on her body, trying to guess through the clothing the curves that were splashed all over the gallery in crimson, burgundy, green and other shades that exuded rawness and sensuality. Henry watched from a distance a smile on his lips and seemed to be enjoying the scene.  A few hours later while we were all laughing and dancing to the music, Henry came up to me asking where Malee was but I had no idea and told him so. Some thirty minutes later I saw them both come back into the gallery from a side door and waved at them. Everybody was enjoying themselves immensely and Henry seemed to have sold quite a few paintings that opening night itself.

The party finished past midnight and as there were no trams anymore, we decided to walk until Carouge and have something to eat before we accompanied the couple back to their home nearby the hospital where we would be sleeping too for the night as we were too tired to walk all the way back to our apartment. We fell asleep fully clothed as we were exhausted before we were awoken by screams and the sound of furniture being moved around and some plates being broken. Peter and I rushed into the next room just in time to see Henry haul Malee over the window sill and then proceed to hold her by the hands yelling at her while she dangled out of the window screaming. He looked insane with his beady eyes alit with anger and his fleshy mouth twisted with rage and Malee, face chalk white, was screaming and pleading for him to pull her back into the room. Peter lunged out of the window while I held on to him fearing he would fall over and attempted to bring her back inside the room while Henry was yelling at him not to interfere as he “need[ed] to teach the tart a good lesson”. At the end, Peter was able to grab enough of Malee to haul her back into the room and we all fell on the ground panting with me going into shock.

Later, after Peter had coaxed me into having a small glass of strong alcohol as I did not normally drink, we split into two parties and I stayed with Malee in the room where Peter and I had slept while Henry and Peter stayed in the other bedroom. I could hear Henry ranting and raving and many times when he had worked himself back into a fit of anger he would attempt to come back into the room where we were sitting and abuse Malee verbally. On one of the occasions he actually entered the room, caught her by the hair and was attempting to drag her by the hair across the floor and back into his bedroom before Peter stopped him by holding him in a vice-like grip at the neck. Henry was too strong for him, however, and had soon loosened Peter’s grip and sent him reeling against the wall. Having done that, he seemed a bit appeased though and did not seem in a mood to hurt Malee again but just went back to his room where he locked himself in.

Peter came back to where we were sitting huddled and tried to calm me as I was shaking. I had never seen someone switch from such a normal behaviour to a stark raving lunatic so quickly before and definitely not within my direct acquaintances. Malee sat there crying and asking us to help her go back to Thailand. She wept and said that she had come here to earn some money as she had a family to feed back in Thailand but could not take it anymore. Henry started yelling from the other room that what she was doing here she could well do in Thailand and save herself the trouble of having to pay taxes and living in a foreign country as prostitution pays everywhere. To which she retorted with a string of sentences in her language that was pronounced colourfully enough to make us understand that it was abuse she was flinging at him. As soon as she heard the door unlocking at the other end, however, she sat quiet and still again and soon the oncoming footsteps’ noise receded and we heard the door lock again. We removed the sheet from the small bed and put it on the ground so that we could sleep all three of us together as the bed was barely enough for two people to sleep in.

Upon waking in the morning we showered and had breakfast while Malee sat there prostrate, wide-eyed, neither talking nor crying. I tried to coax her into having a shower and something to eat but she simply stared through me and at the door of Henry’s bedroom. Suddenly, the door was unlocked and Henry fully nude appeared in the doorway and I watched with disbelief as Malee sprung out of her chair and flung herself into his arms. He looked at her triumphantly and said “that’s my girl. Don’t ever make me angry again” while she beamed back at him nodding in assent. The door locked behind them and we soon could hear that they seemed to be making up very noisily. I stared at Peter torn between relief, uneasiness and fear that something could go horribly wrong again. He merely shrugged back at me and said “artists” and held his hand out to me. We walked out of the apartment and pulled the door shut softly behind us so as not to make the neighbours complain more than they probably were going to do during the day. The neighbor facing Henry’s doorstep was out and was looking at us suspiciously with inquisitive eyes. “So he did not kill her this time” she said in a grating voice. Peter smiled sweetly at  her but I could see from his eyes that he did not mean it at all. “No he did not yet, you can wait for the spectacle next time, I am sure you will eventually be satisfied” he retorted coldly. She gave us both a disdainful look and went back haughtily into her apartment.

A few weeks later we heard during a chance encounter with Henry at a café that Malee had left him. I thought she had returned to Thailand but it turned out that she had eloped with one of the buyers who incidentally had been the cause of that night’s scene as Henry had caught them on the opening night of his exhibition not only kissing but also planning to spend some time together. Henry seemed heartbroken and was telling us that he could not understand why she would want to be with such a man who had no personality and was a stuck up rich man’s son and was only interested in Malee as he would be interested in any new gadget.

I looked at Henry, head in his hands, elbows resting on the table, so brutish and I had thought so insensitive but he seemed truly heart-broken so I kept my thoughts to myself and merely patted him on the back. How could he not see that she could not continue living in the conditions that he had made her live through with him. It simply escaped me that their relationship could have lasted so long as it seemed they had been together for over 3 years. How could a woman take so much abuse and still continue living with the same person. I was barely 22 then and could simply not understand it.

Henry straightened himself up, looked me in the eye and sighed saying “I lost my muse and I don’t know if I ever will be able to paint again”. He paused then added “She was so easy to live with, never complained, always did things immediately the way I wanted her to do them.  I can’t be with a Swiss girl you know, they are so full of themselves so I will have to find another Thai girl or someone asian again”.  I bit my lip as I felt some nasty words swarming up my throat and begging to be let out of my lips. Instead I just gave him a thin smile, waited for Peter to pay our coffees and then gave him a cold peck on his cheek before saying goodbye.

The next time I saw Henry again, he was in what I found out to be his manic mood again and he was in couple with a beautiful though tiny Japanese girl. Heartbreak long forgotten he was bustling with energy and his apartment was crammed with paintings of his new muse but that is another story…

Doll tales

Doll Tales

11 August 2010 and 17 September 2014

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Girls play with dolls and then move on with their lives. Boys play ball and then play doll with their wives.

 

It occurred to me when I was taking the highway and a few words flung at me harshly several years before by an angry boyfriend came back to mind “Of course, for you women it is either my way or the highway”.

There had actually been no argument, no reason for the word flinging other than me trying to explain to him that it was not the appropriate time for me to travel anywhere as I was passing my exams. The lad had then made it a point to travel with a couple of friends including a female friend with whom he took many pictures and he made it a point on his return to show anyone passing by the photographs all the while trying to make me jealous.  Upon finding he was unsuccessful, things then became pretty mean and tasteless and ultimately we had to break up because too much meanness had spoilt the initial good feelings.

The recollection of that incident and the insistence of the men who were trying to date me – some of whom I actually dated – on trying to bend my will to meet their requirements or mold me to a satisfactory image as per their standards made me smile. There were also other recollections of a more somber nature. I remembered not without a dark foreboding the number of women who had come to me for moral or financial support, many of whom had been verbally, psychologically and sometimes physically abused by their husbands. Countless tales of husbands finding the food too tasteless, too salty or not having the food warm, or having issues with the wife spending too much money, looking too insistently – as per their often wrong impression – at any man happening to pass by during that day. Any and every reason seemed a good enough reason for an argument, a showering of abuse or sometimes a beating. I remembered the number of couples I had sat down with for dinner and how the husbands had boasted about their wife being “trained” or “refined” by them thereby acquiring poise, a sense of style, an understanding of being demure. One even boasted about his wife being a good girl in public and capable of putting to shame a prostitute when in bed.

Beyond the tasteless aspects of those claims, I was bemused at the common denominator, the silver thread that ran across all those recounts and which clearly indicated that these men seemed to be doing what girls did once upon a time to their dolls “sit Sally. Drink your tea properly. Now, now, be a good girl; that’s not the right way to drink tea”, “what shall we wear today: the green jacket or the brown pullover? I am sure you will like the green one better”, “No you don’t know what is best for you, let me dress you up or you’ll get cold [while it was burning hot outside]”

It struck me then that somehow, maybe this was the reason such things happened. Deprived of the possibility of playing dolls during their childhood and of having that sense of getting to be an all powerful being who could determine the life of another – the closest concept to being God – men wanted to be able to satisfy that sensation with the only other being within their reach who would accept such a game.  Who better of course than “the weaker sex” omitting the mother who would be unfit for such a role and the sisters, often quickly removed from their sphere, leaving only the girlfriends and subsequently the wives?

Now don’t get me wrong and go calling me a feminist, a male-hater and all those silly things that one would be attempted to bring forth as a claim to invalidate the reality of such matters. Those who know me really know I am a far cry from being a male-hater although I could come across as more of a feminist as I do have a sense of my own independence.

I recognize that many men do not suffer from this syndrome and are fine with giving liberty to their partners to be themselves rather than a molded version of their mothers or their ideal archetype. I also have no problem with being in a couple myself and have no issues with couples where both are in a balanced relationship and the wife/lady does not mind having her husband/partner decide on most matters for her. What I have a problem with is men systematically demeaning their significant other and abusing them, thereby causing them physical or emotional trauma.

Pondering on all the incidents I had observed over the past twenty or so years and on all the misfortunes I had seen play before my eyes or heard from friends and sometimes people who were close to strangers, I thought that there was so much in common between so many of them that it might be helpful for some to read and know about them. This way, women (or men) could compare their own situation to what they had read and determine whether the “small mistreatment” they were undergoing was worth it, whether that “small smack” on the face was an isolated incident, whether it made sense to continue in the circumstances they were living to believe that everything would be alright as long as they listened and obeyed, whether it was really them the problem or whether it was something else.

I decided to write about all those stories and in a twist of wry humour chose to call this series “Doll tales”. From this week onward, I will attempt to write one” Doll tale” although some might take me more time when they actually have more ramifications. Feel free to share with me your “Doll tale” either through comments or you can ask for an email if you wish to share your experience more privately.

Coming up next: The painter and his muse (doll tale 1)

The Malachite Curse 2: Ming-Hoa’s oration

The Malachite Curse 2: Ming Hoa’s oration

29 August 2014

Chineseman

When Ming Hoa had to face the look of Chow, he felt a cold chill run through him and had to look elsewhere. She definitely knew what had happened was trying to drive him crazy. He had tried to make amends for his wrongdoing by providing a funeral in great pomp for Cuifen but to no avail. It seemed to him that Chow was like a demon determined to track down every bit of sanity within him and drive it out of him in a frenzy of vengeance. Not only was she fully aware of what had happened and wanted to make him lose his mind by giving him the place of honor in the seating but she also openly flouted it by forcing him to perform the funeral oration.

Ming Hoa was not particularly superstitious but he could not help thinking of the old legends that told how the spirit of the deceased stayed with the one who had made the oration as long as such person still had feelings for the deceased. Chow had to know the intensity of his feelings for Cuifen and therefore wanted him to suffer eternally because Cuifen would never leave him and he would be forever haunted by the pale glow of her bright face. Fever seized him again despite the gust of the wintry wind blowing into the temple. He got up, stood in front of the assembly and cleared his throat.

“Cuifen was a very kind and sweet-natured girl,” he said. “She had the beauty of those who do not need any artefacts and saying she was beautiful would be an understatement as she was a sparkling splendor.” The image of Cuifen, eyes half-closed watching him flashed in front of his eyes and he felt faint. “In the beginning,” he continued, “I did not realize how kind she was. She was a wonderful girl who never hesitated to help Ju-Long, Eu-meh’s nephew, at the stables for all of us to have healthy horses to transport the mail”. “She was beautiful,” he carried on.

Cuifen with her little velvet headband that held her hair, Cuifen with her frenetic desire to live, Cuifen whose successive layers of clothing had made him think about matriochkas, Cuifen who denied him calling him a vulture. Cuifen lying dead beside him …

He had never understood exactly how it happened. One moment he was holding her while she inflicted on him a severe pain by pulling his ponytail carefully knotted at the neck and the moment later she lay dead beside him. Since that day the world around him was colored gray and he had gone about minding his business like a lost soul, colour-blinded and sentenced to not see any other color than the brilliance of malachite Cuifen’s eyes donned when she smiled. He was sometimes also obsessed by another color when he allowed himself a thought of the poppy made ​​of three large spots that stood against his immaculate white pants: blood red! He had asked himself when waking up with Cuifen dead at his side from what mysterious illness was he suffering for him to want to absorb the smallest particle of this blood that flowed from him, a little as if to regenerate himself in self-sufficiency. However he soon realized that the blood was not from him but from a small wound in Cuifen’s temple. A small hole made by a sharp object that was shaped like the profile of a small poppy. Like a human blotter, Ming-Hoa would have liked to absorb every drop of blood that had flowed out of Cuifen.

Damn it, he thought. Why had she refused? It was totally incomprehensible after these few weeks when he had observed how she tried to tease him. Besides he had been drinking a potion of cloves and therefore had a very good breath when he had talked to her before her death. It was probably prejudice against old leaders of his type who had lived in splendor while the others had experienced poverty in a simple home. When he was transferred after the revolution to his old neighborhood for the restructuring of the old post office, he knew he would face taunts since many people in the district had never accepted him as one of their own.

Ju-Long watched Ming-Hoa with eyes full of hatred. For him the old fool was an anomaly and an aberration of nature that he would have gladly done without. He found that his body was reminiscent of a delta where putrid flesh would have filled the role of sediments and fetid blood the role of water seeping into his old carcass. Ming-Hoa’s facial skin was indeed so wrinkled that it looked like strata of unidentified origin. He thought about the role being played by the old fool in Cuifen’s funeral and jealousy tormented his heart. He felt rising in him an irresistible urge to put his hands around the neck of the ridiculously thin Ming-Hao and tighten his hold until the latter could no longer utter a word.

Eu-meh looked fearfully at her nephew. She felt that he hated Ming-Hoa more than she could ever hate another person. She had never been able to accept the bombastic speeches of the old fool and understood that many did not like him. Something bothered her, however, in Ju-Long’s anger. It was a cold and murderous rage. She gazed for a while at his profile before looking away. The night of Cuifen’s death, he had returned with haggard eyes, circled with purple rings. Without a word he had taken one of the packs of drink that had been left on the table since the wedding of his cousin and had swallowed it in one gulp. She remembered the black fury she had read in his eyes that day when his eyes had met hers in the mirror.

Read here the earlier chapter “The passage”

Read here the later chapter Ju-Long’s anger and Eu-Meh’s disarray

Partir c’est vivre un peu

26 mars 2011

Partir c’est vivre un peu

 

Elle pensa qu’elle n’aura jamais le temps de partir avant son retour. Les événements du jour précédent se bousculaient dans son esprit comme des couleurs qui s’entrechoqueraient au fond d’un kaléidoscope. Plus elle songeait à fuir, plus elle se sentait pétrifiée. Il lui semblait qu’il n’existait aucune issue et qu’elle était prise comme un bout d’emmenthal dans un sandwich entre deux plaques du toaster qui fatalement la feraient fondre, la ramenant ainsi à sa perte.

Partir, partir, partir. Elle ressassa ce mot jusqu’à l’exaspération de son esprit qui se révoltait contre ses litanies incessantes, ses indécisions lassantes. Partir oui, mais partir sans une quête, sans l’idée d’une conquête. A quoi bon ? Partir, mais comment et comment s’organiser, comment le faire ?

Mathilde faisait les cent pas devant son automobile et n’arrivait pas à se résoudre à s’y glisser au volant et prendre la poudre d’escampette avec son bébé profondément endormi dans son Maxicosi. Soudain elle détacha son bébé, tourna les talons et rentra dans la maison. Elle n’arriverait pas à conduire dans son état. Autant prendre le train plus tard se dit-elle. Elle remit le bambin dans son berceau et il continua de dormir imperturbable. C’est qu’il avait tellement tété sa mère qu’il en était complètement rassasié et dormait d’un sommeil profond et réparateur. Elle lui caressa la joue avant de descendre vers la cuisine. Machinalement elle sortit le balai, l’aspirateur, le seau et les divers liquides pour nettoyer les sols et les autres éléments de la maison et se mit à faire le ménage. Tout y passa, du sol jusqu’au plafond en passant par les rideaux, la vaisselle, les jouets d’enfants qui jonchaient le sol du salon. Elle s’arrêta un moment en se rendant compte qu’elle disposait systématiquement tout ce qu’elle rangeait en quinconce. La douleur d’aujourd’hui pour une raison inconnue égarait son esprit sur ce chiffre cinq.

Cinq. Les cinq enfants qu’elle aurait eus si l’un d’eux n’était pas tombé suite à un accident de ski l’année d’avant lui laissant son jumeau libre de se développer dans son ventre et si le tout premier, il y a de cela longtemps, n’était pas sorti sans un cri. Cinq si ce tout premier, aussi mort que son cœur, n’avait pas dû être expulsé à cinq mois et demi dans un accouchement glauque où la mort l’emportait sur la vie. Donner naissance à la mort en étouffant ses cinq sens pour ne garder aucun souvenir de ce moment et pourtant l’avoir gravé à jamais dans sa mémoire et à travers les cinq sens si vivants à ce moment-là : la douleur de sa chair, la vision du docteur, du plafond blanc blafard, l’odeur d’ammoniaque et de surmédicalisation si caractéristique aux hôpitaux, le son qui ne venait pas, assourdissant à l’oreille malgré le fait de savoir que le bruit n’y serait pas et les paroles, rageusement encourageantes, oppressantes, inutiles de la sage femme qui demandait de pousser encore et encore parce que ce serait bientôt fini.

Elle se leva rageusement et descendit en courant vers le sous-sol où elle laissa libre cours à sa douleur. Elle se sentait l’âme patriotique en partant en guerre contre les toiles d’araignées et les moutons de poussière qu’elle avait laissés s’accumuler dans le sous-sol de sa maison. Ces balles grises et tristes de crasse qui s’échappaient du sous-sol dès qu’elle secouait les tapis lui firent penser aux fredaines d’autrefois que lui contait son mari et qui, pour elle, avaient autant de crasse que ces moutons de poussière malgré la légèreté dont lui voulait les voir vêtues. Elle secoua encore rageusement les tapis qui n’en finissaient pas de relâcher leur crasse dans l’air. Combien ces tapis pouvaient-ils encore en recéler se dit-elle rageusement.

Elle se dit que si elle avait su avant, elle n’en aurait fait qu’une goulée de cette dernière crasse qui n’était pas une fredaine d’autrefois mais une réalité bel et bien d’aujourd’hui. Folie d’hier ? Non, bien d’aujourd’hui, se dit-elle en tapant encore fortement le tapis qu’elle tenait alors que ses larmes se mêlaient librement aux particules qui s’échappaient du tapis et tombaient lourdement par terre ou rendaient la poussière de nouveau prisonnière du tapis. Décidément, ce sol gardera une trace bien vive de son passage aujourd’hui. Tout avait été ôté, dépoussiéré, poli puis remis sur les étagères. Elle inspira profondément et se mit à marcher telle une automate vers la cuisine où elle prépara machinalement trois sandwichs pour les enfants qui allaient rentrer de l’école affamés et la nounou qui les accompagnerait. Ensuite elle se retourna pour saisir la raclette en se rendant compte qu’elle avait oublié d’ôter l’eau par terre. Elle en profita pour essayer de fermer la porte du frigo avant de bondir en arrière comme sous l’effet d’un électrochoc. Elle avait oublié qu’il y avait toujours ce mauvais contact que son mari n’avait pas réglé et que ses pieds nus étaient au milieu d’une mare d’eau. Le courant en passant à travers son corps l’avait hébété mais avait aussi stoppé net son élan de ménagère en furie. Elle se releva, se tâtant la main encore lourde et douloureuse et entreprit de finir d’éponger l’eau pour éviter que l’un des enfants n’ait à supporter le même incident.

Elle redescendit lentement à la cave pour voir si elle n’avait pas oublié quelque chose. Son œil fut attiré par le carton qu’elle avait laissé au milieu de la pièce ne sachant pas si elle devait remonter son contenu ou le laisser en bas. C’était un carton plein de 45 tours. Au-dessus de la pile trônait un disque d’ABBA et quelque chose de nouveau se brisa en elle à la vue de ce palindrome. ABBA, le BABA du savoir deviner, du savoir renifler ces veuleries, elle en avait manqué. Elle se saisit du disque comme des autres qui suivirent et entreprit de les casser en deux avec méthode.

Ensuite elle se dirigea vers la cave, ouvrit la porte avec la clé accrochée à un clou à gauche de la poignée et regarda les bouteilles qui ornaient le mur : les bordeaux grand cru pour les occasions spéciales côtoyaient les côtes du Rhône, les blanc de blanc, les bouteilles de champagne et quelques bourgognes rares parmi d’autres vins moins chers. Elle ne buvait pas mais s’il y avait une occasion, c’était bien celle-là. Comme résoudre ce dilemme ? Elle prit la première bouteille de Champagne hors de prix qui rencontra ses doigts nerveux et que son mari lui avait dit de ne pas déboucher à moins qu’il ne lui en donne l’autorisation. « Oui, quelle bonne idée », se dit-elle, « sabrons ce champagne » mais elle se rendit compte que le sabre de Samouraï était dans la chambre à coucher alors elle le sabra à même le mur. Elle but quelques gouttes et se tailla un peu à la commissure des lèvres. Elle prit une autre bouteille, un château Margaux à la robe qui se devinait profonde et qui alla se fracasser contre le crépi de la cave à vin. Bien d’autres connurent le même sort.

Quand elle quitta la cave, la mare saumâtre qui décorait son sol n’en finissait pas de faire des bulles qu’elle laissa frémir dans l’obscurité en éteignant la lumière. Elle referma la porte derrière elle et s’adossa contre elle en se frottant les tempes de ses doigts engourdis par ce travail machinal. Au-dessus d’elle elle entendit des pas et des rires tandis que les enfants rentraient de l’école avec la nounou. Elle se regarda dans le miroir de l’armoire de la cave et eut un choc en voyant son visage livide barbouillé de larmes et de suie. Lentement elle se dirigea vers la bassine de la chambre à lessive et entreprit de se nettoyer la figure et les mains poisseuses. Elle se débarrassa ensuite de ses vêtements souillés, prit une robe légère pas encore repassée qui était pliée dans une corbeille au-dessus de la machine à laver et l’enfila. Ensuite elle gravit deux à deux les marches de l’escalier qui la séparaient de ses enfants et se précipita vers eux les bras grands ouverts. « Maman ! » s’écrièrent-ils en chœur et elle les pressa contre son cœur.

Ils avaient encore tellement de choses à lui raconter et elle n’en finissait jamais d’être surprise et émerveillée qu’ils en aient autant à lui raconter à chaque fois en retournant de l’école. Pourtant la veille elle les avait écoutés encore émerveillée et leurs récits étaient différents. Chaque jour ils vivaient des choses nouvelles et chaque jour, eux comme elle s’émerveillaient de pouvoir vivre des choses aussi intéressantes.

Dans sa chambre, leur frère venait de se réveiller de son sommeil profond et béat après sa tétée vigoureuse de midi. Il laissa échapper un long cri plaintif de celui qui a de nouveau faim et Mathilde et ses enfants se regardèrent d’un œil complice. « Il va falloir encore donner à manger à ce petit gourmand » dit sa fille d’un air coquin. Mathilde lui sourit doucement et lui donna la main. « Tu viens m’aider à le changer ? » lança-t-elle à l’égard de sa fille. Son fils aîné les suivit en clamant haut et fort qui lui aussi voulait s’occuper de son frère et que ce n’était pas réservé aux femmes que de changer les bébés. Tous les trois gravirent les marches de l’escalier se dirigeant vers le son plaintif du petit gourmand qui réclamait encore son garde-manger. A trois, ils eurent tôt fait de changer sa couche et ensuite les deux enfants regardèrent leur mère se mettre dans le grand fauteuil et l’aîné lui mit le coussin d’allaitement sous son coude tandis que sa fille rajustait les couvertures autour de son petit frère. Mathilde caressa doucement la joue et la petite bouche s’entrouvrit pour accueillir le téton nourricier. Et tandis que la vie s’écoulait dans les goulées qu’avalait son fils, Mathilde sentit la vie revenir à nouveau doucement dans son cœur.

En suivant le croquemitaine

15 mars 2011

En suivant le croquemitaine

 

–          Maman, hurla la petite fille d’une voix plaintive. C’est le méchant croquemitaine qui est de nouveau venu pour m’emporter très loin de toi

–          Ne t’en fais pas, dors ! fusa la réponse articulée par une voix suave de la pièce d’à côté. Tu verras qu’il ne peut rien te faire. D’ailleurs si tu le regardes bien, tu verras qu’il est bien transparent et inoffensif. C’est notre croquemitaine familial et il n’est pas bien méchant.

–          Je veux dormir avec toi, je ne veux plus l’avoir près de moi, reprit la voix plaintive. La petite fille hasarda un regard de côté et effectivement, il avait l’air bien pâlot et peu capable de nuire à qui que ce soit. Cela dit, quelque chose dans le regard froid que jetaient ses yeux – la seule chose assez visible de tout son être – la glaçait.

–          Tu sais bien que c’est impossible. Dors maintenant et tu pourras venir me voir demain reprit la voix suave, légèrement crispée d’avoir à se contenir dans le noir de la nuit. Elle entonna ensuite une mélopée qui aurait rempli le cœur des plus gais de la mélancolie la plus profonde mais qui avait, par la force de l’habitude, un profond effet apaisant sur la petite fille. La quintessence de la mélancolie était désormais la seule représentation possible de paix et de douceur dans l’esprit de la petite fille.

–          Tu es un méchant croquemitaine mais tu ne me fais pas peur parce que maman va s’occuper de toi si tu m’embêtes, reprit la voix plaintive avec une pointe de défi. Sur ce, la petite fille rapprocha sa petite marionnette de son oreiller et s’endormit en lui tortillant distraitement la main tandis que le croquemitaine la regardait contrit et peiné. Lui aussi semblait sous l’effet très prenant de la nostalgie de cette mélopée entonnée par une voix qui cherchait à se fondre dans la nuit.

Le lendemain, la petite fille passa devant la pièce d’à côté et en se hissant sur la pointe des pieds déposa un baiser sur la joue de sa mère à travers le carré la rendant accessible. Elle la regarda encore pendant que la nounou de ses mains tentaculaires lui faisait la tresse quotidienne qui accompagnait son uniforme scolaire tout en préparant son déjeuner à l’emporter en s’arrêtant juste pour boutonner son haut et lisser les plis de la jupe de son uniforme. Il était tellement pesant cet uniforme qu’elle avait l’impression de porter une cuirasse.

Sa mère la regarda partir à travers le carré jusqu’à ce qu’elle soit dans la rue et hors de vue avec ses sœurs. A l’ouverture de la porte une bourrasque de pluie apportée par le vent s’engouffra dans le vestibule exigu et sa mère frissonna. Elle cria à l’attention de la nounou de baisser la toile qui séparait l’entrée de la rue. C’était une espèce de voile de misaine et remplissait bien la tâche de maintenir la pluie au dehors mais la nounou faisait exprès de ne pas l’utiliser correctement sachant que la mère ne pouvait se déplacer jusqu’à la porte d’entrée pour le faire elle-même. Ce cortège de petites misères qu’elle faisait à la maman semblaient satisfaire son esprit mesquin à la recherche d’une revanche contre la vie qui en avait fait une servante chez des familles plus fortunées que la sienne. La petite fille avait maintes fois observé ce manège entre les deux femmes avec un mélange de pitié, de colère et d’impuissance. La nounou savait très bien que le prix de sa défiance serait payé plus tard quand le papa rentrerait et pour autant que la mère ose se plaindre mais elle se disait sans doute que rien que de pouvoir atermoyer l’issue du châtiment suffisait à lui donner une satisfaction mesquine de pouvoir avoir le dessus au moins durant la journée.

Dehors les poubelles s’entassaient devant la fenêtre de la maman, autre mesquinerie qui donnait une satisfaction sans bornes à la nounou qui savait la maman incapable de sortir les enlever de dessous sa fenêtre sans son aide.

Les jours de la mousson, tout cela donnait lieu à un cloaque infâme dont les effluves finissaient par incommoder tout le monde, y compris la nounou, et après les premières tentatives dont elle avait personnellement souffert, elle avait perdu de sa superbe et avait fait en sorte d’assurer le ramassage régulier des poubelles pendant la mousson.

Le départ journalier vers l’école du bon berger « Good Shepherd » du personnage éponyme, le plus grand des bergers, le salvateur de nos âmes de brebis humaines ou autrement dit le Christ, se faisait dans les heures matinales afin d’éviter la cohue qui aurait pu contaminer en sueur et en paroles grossières le cheminement qui séparait l’école des quatre jeunes filles du parking se trouvant assez loin de l’édifice. Leur retour se faisait en fin d’après-midi, toujours aussi tôt que possible après l’école pour les mêmes raisons.

Tout se déroulait donc dans ce même train-train quotidien qui n’offrait que peu sinon pas de variations sur le même thème jusqu’à ce soir fatidique. La petite fille après son manège quotidien avec sa mère et le croquemitaine – qui bizarrement développait des contours plus précis chaque nuit à part au niveau des jambes inexistantes – s’était endormie comme d’habitude quand elle fut réveillée par un bruit sourd. Elle s’était glissée hors de son lit et avait trouvé la maisonnée dans un état d’excitation suprême. Il semblait que sa mère n’en pouvant plus des poubelles sous sa fenêtre avait jeté toute sa nourriture ainsi que les ustensiles dans lesquels ils étaient par la fenêtre. Ceci afin de créer suffisamment de colère dans le quartier à propos des poubelles laissées là-bas et de l’état général de la rue. Les phrases volaient dans tous les sens et la petite fille vit sa mère vociférer à travers la grille contre la nounou qui essayait tant bien que mal de justifier cette histoire des poubelles. La petite fille se glissa lentement en arrière pour échapper à tout ce bruit causé par ces adultes et qui lui causait une douleur intense à la tête et aux oreilles. Elle sentit la présence du croquemitaine à ses côtés et vit que son corps était désormais devenu tout à fait visible à part au niveau des jambes, tant et si bien qu’il semblait flotter. Il n’était plus juste un nuage de gouttelettes d’eau donnant une impression d’un visage comme avant, il était désormais une vraie personne avec un corps s’arrêtant aux hanches et un visage bien dessiné. Elle tendit la main vers lui et il la prit doucement dans la sienne qui semblait immense. Le contact de sa peau était froid. Sans un mot, elle le suivit hors de la pièce pour aller vers sa chambre. Elle se tourna vers lui et lui dit d’une voix douce « Je n’ai plus peur de toi. Tu n’es pas si méchant et ce n’est pas ta faute de toute façon si j’ai peur ».

Le croquemitaine ne dit rien mais se contenta de marcher à ses côtés d’un pas mal assuré dont la lenteur essayait de se calquer sur le petit pas court de la petite fille. Il la regardait de ses grands yeux noirs insondables mais elle n’avait réellement plus peur du tout.

–           Comment t’appelles-tu ? demanda la petite fille

–          J’ai plusieurs noms lui répondirent alors plusieurs voix émanant du croquemitaine. Je m’appelle Bien Sey Ance, lui répondit une. Je m’appelle Dés Esse Poare répondit une deuxième. Je m’appelle Dé Ceppe Sillon répondit une troisième. Elle perdit dans le brouhaha qui s’ensuivit le reste des autres noms mais d’un coup les voix se turent et du silence sortit l’exclamation suivante « Je m’appelle Grant d’Ihr » reprise par plusieurs voix émanant de concert du croquemitaine

–          C’est bizarre, rétorqua la fille. Quand grand-mère est morte, on a mis un pita feu sur sa pierre qui disait Grand-mère, maman, tante, et tout et à la fin Rajambal. Pour toi ça va être beaucoup trop de noms. Il n’y aura pas assez de place sur une pierre

–          Ca s’appelle une épitaphe, dit le croquemitaine d’une voix douce mais ce n’est pas grave parce que, vois-tu, je ne mourrai jamais et n’en aurai jamais besoin d’une.

Et c’est en suivant le croquemitaine ce soir-là que la petite fille sentit comme il avait été vain d’essayer de le faire partir avant. Ce soir-là, quelque chose dans sa poitrine avait fait un drôle de bruit dans sa tête. Elle avait senti juste en dessous de la bande en satin que sa maman lui nouait d’habitude les jours de fêtes en un beau nœud blanc éclatant à gauche une espèce de frémissement comme un oiseau qui essayait de sortir. La douleur fut très brève mais tangible mais n’égalerait jamais en intensité ce qu’elle ressentirait le jour d’après avec les événements qui s’y déroulèrent et qui lui firent donner une présence permanente ainsi que des jambes au croquemitaine.

Filet de soul

8 mars 2011

Filet de soul

 

Elle se débattit mais cela sembla inutile tant le filet l’enserrait de toutes parts épousant son corps comme un gant. L’anti matière de son tressage était du même acabit que son propre corps immatériel et elle ne réussit donc pas à le traverser. Impuissante elle regarda les ectoplasmes du bateau fantôme la hisser lentement vers eux. Elle se rappela du conseil de ses grands-parents qui avaient été ses gardiens depuis la mort de ses parents et se dit qu’elle aurait dû les écouter et ne pas s’aventurer si loin de sa soulitude natale faite de douceur.

Tout était la faute de ce maudit printemps, de cette illusion de licorne à la noix et de son caractère de funambule qui ne résistait jamais à l’envie de se balancer dans les airs entre deux gouffres aussi profonds l’un que l’autre. Les trous noirs du système soulaire ardent dans lequel elle était entrée par mégarde ou par entêtement – elle ne se souvenait plus – et qui avait fini de la désincarner après qu’une brûlure mille fois plus intense qu’une fièvre de licorne l’eût terrassée.

Et pourtant tous les signes avaient été là : le regard paniqué de ceux qui venaient d’apprendre le rite du passage par le douanier, le froid mordant qui s’échappait par la seule fenêtre de l’autre monde –placée si haut qu’il était impossible de regarder de l’autre côté de la vitre, l’odeur de soufre qui accompagnait chaque déflagration des êtres qui passaient à travers la porte et dont il ne restait qu’une pyrogravure dont chacune s’alignait aux côtés des autres faites avant elle. En bref, un spectacle qui eût refroidi les fantasmes même du plus ardent des pionniers mais elle avait continué son chemin, attirée par l’idée de cette découverte stellaire.

Le douanier à la face de rhinopithèque qui était assis comptant ses sous à la lisière des deux mondes n’avait pas arrêté de lui faire remplir tellement de papiers qu’elle avait failli finir dans ses mauvais papiers. « Quelles sont toutes ses manœuvres dilatoires ? » s’était-elle écriée excédée à quoi il lui répondit que c’était cela le prix – eh oui, il fallait toujours en revenir au prix dans ce bas monde – du passage dans l’autre monde. Il fallait bien réfléchir et ce n’était pas tant des manœuvres dilatoires que préparatoires à une décision qui serait finale.

En bon intermédiaire du suzerain de ce monde qui lui transmettait ses ordres à travers une corne creuse d’une licorne d’autres fois, il se chargeait de lasser les êtres résolus à passer dans l’autre monde pour qu’uniquement ceux qui ne pourraient plus êtres des marionnettes malléables finissent par franchir le pas. De toute façon pensait le suzerain en se regardant le nombril qui avait besoin de bien des soins de vassaux pour ne pas se détacher de son corps, ce genre de personnes ne lui serviraient à rien parce qu’ils ne seraient pas des vassaux obéissants. Car il fallait des êtres obéissant aveuglément pour caresser le corps immobile du suzerain qui devenait de plus en plus flasque et incapable de contenir ce bout de chair tremblotant au milieu. Le massage devait se faire en cercles concentriques partant de l’extrémité du corps et en ronds plus serrés pour se rapprocher de ce nombril violacé et la tache devenait non seulement plus épuisante mais aussi plus répugnante. En effet, à force d’immobilité le suzerain en devenait une énorme masse graisseuse dont l’arrivée du printemps exacerbait les effluves mortels et atteindre les extrémités pour s’essayer à exécuter au moins un cercle devenait une tache de plus en plus impossible du vivant de chaque vassal. Autant dire que le suzerain était très difficile à cerner pour n’importe quel être et elle s’était dit que n’importe quel autre destin valait mieux que d’être condamnée à cerner ce monstre, surtout que le printemps approchait à grands pas.

Les manœuvres avaient donc continué un bon moment et les ripostes acerbes fusant des deux parts avaient failli la mettre dans les mauvais papiers du douanier à la face de rhinopithèque et à la prunelle morte mais finalement elle réussit à finaliser ses démarches. Il lui restait avait dit à la fin le douanier de se débarrasser du reste d’aveux peccamineux pour accomplir le rite du passage. En se tournant vers lui pour demander ce que cela voulait dire, elle vit une lueur sadique enfin rallumer le regard de poisson mort du douanier qui lui dit avec un sourire torve qu’elle allait être brûlée au chalumeau pour que le peccamineux et la chair se détachent d’elle et qu’elle rentre éthérée dans l’autre monde laissant ses restes comme ornement au mur des « l’amant à sillons ». Elle eut un instant de panique mais c’était trop tard, c’était le prix à payer se dit-elle en se résignant et elle avança vers la porte faite de chalumeaux.

Elle se souvint d’une sensation de brûlure insupportable s’accompagnant d’une déflagration assourdissante et l’instant d’après elle flottait en apesanteur dans un espace feutré dont le silence et l’épaisseur du noir n’était brisé que ça et là par de doux clapotis et des rais d’une luminosité intense qui n’éclairaient bizarrement rien d’autre qu’eux-mêmes laissant le reste de l’espace dans le noir. Elle eut à peine le temps de sentir plus qu’elle ne vit d’autres êtres immatériels flottant auprès d’elle qu’une masse de cordes avait été jetée sur elle et qu’on la ramenait inexorablement vers le bateau fantôme. Une fois hissée à bord, elle fut soulevée rudement et que ne fut sa surprise de tomber nez à nez avec un faciès désormais familier, rhinopithèque pensa-t-elle avant de perdre connaissance.

Quand elle revint à elle, une version ectoplasmique du suzerain se tenait flasque devant elle et à côté d’elle l’ectoplasme du douanier qui frottait lentement et délibérément une énorme lame contre un trou noir et tandis qu’elle le regardait médusée, il se tourna vers le suzerain et lui demanda

« Comment voulez-vous votre filet de soul ? »

« Bleu » fut la réponse