A Plan Thwarted

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Raphaëlle

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111

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When you went away you left behind a slight feeling of emptiness, or of too little. Of something unfinished, rather like hopes that only meet with disappointment.

That was at the beginning, at least. I had been promised fun and laughter, arguments and nonsense. Photos, tea parties, fights, Christmases and birthdays. I was outwardly dubious, of course, and adopted an air of detachment and seriousness as nine year olds are wont to do. But I did not hold out very long with that attitude. I did not look the part and was not really fooling anyone, so I gave in. Then I talked about it to everyone with a huge grin permanently affixed to my face. Sometimes I realized that I would nevertheless have to come to terms with some major problems. For example, I would have to share things, which I hate. But I was certain that the solution would appear all by itself. In any case, I was grown-up, bossy, responsible, you would not be picking any fights with me, that was for sure. So I felt reassured and began to imagine the playhouses, the summer holidays, the snowball fights, the water fights, and the pillow fights.

It was winter and raining most of the time; I could not go out. Forced to stay cooped up indoors, I drew up plans to rearrange the upstairs of the house (it was out of the question that you should squat in my room, however little you were), and gave them to Mom who examined them very seriously. Or else I sorted out the games I didn’t like anymore and which I would let you have. 
The sun came back early that year. That was lucky, as Mom no longer knew what to do with my dozens of sketches. At Easter, I remember, you must have been enormous, in any case you took a huge amount of room up in Mom’s stomach. Dad had suggested putting a big ribbon round her middle, to make her into an Easter egg. I was all for it, but when we saw Mom’s face, we stopped messing about.

Then one day, when I came out of school, Grandma was waiting for me. That was strange. I ran over and she took me to the hospital, where I saw you. You were not that big, really. But you were astonishingly red. You were stuck in a plastic box, plugged in all over the place, it was weird. Dad wanted to make me think it was normal for such a small baby, but I’m not that stupid. I had already noticed that there was something not right about my little brother, apart from all that equipment. It was only at night that I understood. They had lied to me. Or I had made a mistake all by myself. That was also possible.

But in any case, I was grown-up, bossy, responsible, I would manage this crisis situation. I would have to seriously reconsider my plans, that would be a real nuisance, but so what, I’d manage, I told myself. And that’s what I did. I coped and I think I can say that I did quite well, even if, frankly, a little sister was not at all what I had in my plans.

Translated by Wendy Cross

111

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