Pierre didn't know how long he had been walking in the night. After wandering through the narrow streets of the Montmartre hill, he had descended the stairs and joined the Seine on its right bank. As he walked, his mind drew on images from the past. The death of his mother when he was ten, moving to his aunt, studying law to do something, an absent military father.
And then Mathilde...
They saw each other in the Place de la République, on May 10, 1981, in the exaltation of the victory of François Mitterand. He froze at the sight of this bubbly girl with her hazel eyes, her small trumpet nose and her long brown hair. They spent the night shouting, drinking, raising banners, fraternizing with everyone and everyone.
- We won brother, comrade, we won!
He had seen Mathilde the next day, his head a little heavy. They had walked hand in hand in the Tuileries Gardens, then she had taken him to the museum. He remembered the punch in the stomach he had received while walking through the galeries. A flood of emotion washed over him at the sight of the Courbets, the Manets, the Caillebottes, the Sisleys, the Pissarros, the Monets… he seemed to hear the unison of their voices, distant voices like church chants.
- Where are your brushes, paintbrushes, canvases, colors? What are you waiting for to paint life like us? What are you waiting for to join us?
- Pierre ?
Mathilde looked at him with an adorable little pout.
- Pierre, where are you? she laughed.
- Oh, I…I was contemplating all that. It's so beautiful, incredibly beautiful...
He thought he was silly not to be able to say anything else, but Mathilde's gaze, already spangled with love, convinced him that she had understood.
- Hey sir, wouldn't you have a small coin ?
A tramp who resided under the bridge of the Alma emerged from the darkness, holding out a filthy hand. Pierre took out his wallet, emptied it of his notes and gave it all to the homeless man who couldn't believe his eyes!
- Waow my prince, God bless you! Do you want to save some?
Pierre shrugged his shoulders and went straight ahead, following the bank. Realizing that he had no more use for the wallet than for the notes it contained, he threw it into the river. He laughed nervously as he looked at all the trivialities of a life carried away by the current, voter's card, identity papers, metro tickets...
And then, the last photo of Mathilde, pregnant, smiling, in front of their gallery on rue du Bac. She drifted randomly for a few moments, before fainting into the filthy waters, as if her wife and baby were dying for the second time.
Pierre began to run, mouth open. He left his jacket, too heavy, he stumbled on the bank with the shiny cobblestones. It was too much. Yes, really, too much suffering, no more voices, sleeping, forgetting, not waking up, falling into the dark.
To be followed...
© Fabrice Roy 2018
In his art history lectures, Fabrice Roy combines the past with the present, in a poetic and playful evocation of the French 19th century...