Nothing but moonlight and dry air. He breathed it in through his nose, analyzing it, but found nothing.
-‘s smell has gone.
Over the course of twenty-one summers, Monsieur Perdu had become as adept as avoiding thinking of – as he was at stepping around open manholes.
He mainly thought of her as -. As a pause amid the hum of this thoughts, as a blank in the pictures of the past, as a dark spot amid his feelings. He was capable of conjuring all kinds of gaps.
Memories are like wolves. You can’t lock them away and hope they leave you alone.
“Yes?” the oval whispered.
“I’ve got a chair and table for you.”
The oval said nothing.
I have to speak softly to her. She’s cried so much she’s probably all dried out and she’ll crumble if I’m too loud.
“And a vase. For flowers. Red flowers, for instance. They’d look really pretty on the white table.”
He had his cheek almost pressed up against the glass.He whispered, “But I can give you a book as well.”
The light in the staircase went out.
“What kind of book?” the oval whispered.”The consoling kind.”
“I need to cry some more. I’ll drown if I don’t. Can you understand that?”
“Of course. Sometimes you’re swimming in unwept tears and you’ll go under if you store them up inside.“
And I’m at the bottom of a sea of tears. (p.9-10)
“With all due respect, what you read is more important in the long term than the man you marry, ma chere Madame.” (pp.11)
“Books keep stupidity at bay. And vain hopes. And vain men. They undress you with love, strength and knowledge. It’s love from within…” (pp. 13)
“Love, the dictator whom men find so terrifying. No wonder that men, being men, generally greet this tyrant by running away.” (pp. 17)
“Do you think that’s normal?” the mother asked anxiously. “At her age?”
“I think she’s brave, clever and right.”
“As long as he doesn’t turn out too smart for men.”
“For the stupid ones, she will, Madame. But who wants them anyway? A stupid man is every woman’s downfall.” (pp.20)
“What do you do when you can’t go on, Monsieur Perdu?” he asked wearily.
Next to nothing.
I take night walks through Paris until I’m tired. I clean Lulu’s engine, the hull and the windows, and I keep the boat ready to go, right down to the last screw, even though it hasn’t gone anywhere in two decades.
I read books – twenty at a time. Everywhere: on the toilet, in the kitchen, in the cafes, on the metro. I do jigsaw puzzles that take up the whole floor, destroy them when I’ve finished and then start all over again. I feed stray cats. I arrange my groceries in alphabetical order. I sometimes take sleeping tablets. I take a dose of Rilke to wake up. I don’t read any books in which women like – crop up. I gradually turn to stone. I carry on. The same every day. That’s the only way I can survive. But other than that, no, I do nothing. (pp.31)
If someone left you, you had to answer with silence. You weren’t allowed to give the person leaving anything else; you had to shut yourself off, just as the other person had closed her mind to your future together. Yes, he had decided that was the way it was. (pp.55)
More to come…