New Year’s Eve

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Le héron

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She has run a bath, very hot, so that the steam covers the mirrors and the atmosphere is becoming muggy. She has lit candles to soften the light and flatter her body, erasing its imperfections in the dimness. She has poured in oil, enough to feel the greasy film, like a second skin. She has let silence be her background music. The telephone will not ring: it is New Year’s Eve. She is alone in the house.

She would not wait till midnight or till tomorrow for resolutions: she will not be celebrating New Year’s Eve. She will never go to those parties again. She will never again buy black, sparkly dresses and high-heeled shoes. She will never again pay to attend those “gala” evenings, which end with cigarette butts stubbed out in the barely-touched foie gras, where the organisers are too drunk to make it to the dessert. She will never again wait to be invited at the end of the evening by a guy who can hardly get his words out, who will fondle her three times with a clammy hand before sliding the other down her thigh, then over her buttock. She will not let anyone slump over her in the slow dance that follows, acting as a prop while her body is clumsily groped with wild gestures. She will not allow herself to sit on anyone’s knees when the music subsides and the fluorescent lights come on again. She will not endure final, brutal sex in a car with a wasted guy who runs back to his friends holding his pants. And she will not laugh to make it look as if she enjoyed it.

That night, her solitude is just the same, but her body is protected, respected for the first time, at the start of a new year. She will stretch out on her clean sheets, in a white dressing gown, and she will smile because she will enjoy it.

Translated by Wendy Cross


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