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Jury Selection

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He has fallen asleep with the light on, reading Du côté de chez Swann*. His diary is open on his desk. He has an assignment on the first chapter to hand in tomorrow. I realise why he asked me just now where the dictionary was. He must surely have been looking for a definition of the word ‘incipit’. 

He will soon be fifteen but when I watch him sleeping I can still make out in his face the features he had as a newborn: downy blond hair, plump mouth, rounded cheeks, tiny nose, angelic smile. I can remember the sweet sound of him sucking my milk piercing the silence in the middle of the night, the warmth of his body pressed against my heart, his hunched thighs and clenched fists, his white, marbled skin, that tender smell mingling mother’s milk, moisturising cream, lime and orange blossom. The beginning of life when everything is for the first time, when everything begins. The beginning of the beginning. The first smiles, the first steps, the first words... 

For a long time, I tried to get him to go to bed early! He always wanted another story or one more nursery rhyme, and would often get up for a drink of water or a pee, using any excuse for one last cuddle. To him night-time was nothing but an enemy that dragged him from my arms. When morning came, how happy he was at being able to get up at last and come and join me in my bed! His little bare feet running across the tiles would pull me from my sleep. He would throw himself upon me, cover me with wet kisses, all the while urging me to go and make his bottle of chocolate milk.

However hard I look, I will never again find all those lost moments, and for me time is nothing but an enemy dragging him from my arms to lead him into those of a young girl in full bloom.

* Swann’s Way (1913) by Marcel Proust.

Translated by Wendy Cross


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