Game, Set and Crackers With Brie

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O-négatif

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In the middle of the afternoon, my wife had taken refuge in our bedroom to make the most of her latent depressive condition (unipolar, untreated). I supported her, in principle. I respect individual liberties and the right to melancholy. So I had not tried to dissuade her out of her monk-like seclusion in any way. From time to time I could hear a few tiresome sobs, sound pollution which the rebroadcast of a Roland-Garros final nevertheless did a reasonable job of masking. 
My stomach, an organ of intransigent punctuality, made its presence felt around 8:15 p.m. My wife appeared to be still plunged in misery that was incompatible with the preparation (skillful, if not loving) of our Sunday roast pork.
Our relationship was in danger. Mine, especially.
So I dragged myself from the sofa and stuck my ear to the door separating us, the depressed cordon bleu chef and myself. Still blubbing.
I went in without knocking.
“Darling. Listen to me. You must pull yourself together! You can’t keep moping and you haven’t eaten for hours.”
First serve, on the line. I was fast on my feet.
But my wife’s return serve was quite deft too.
“If you think I feel like eating…”
It was not as easy as I’d thought. I was going to have to up my game, if I didn’t want a duck pâté sandwich, accompanied by a piece of Camembert.
And did we even have any bread?
“Alright… I fully understand that you are not feeling your normal self. All I’m saying is that we could talk about it, constructively, over a nice meal.”
Subtle, friendly, empathetic: 30-15.
“But we’ve got nothing left to say to each other! You’re a total bastard.”
Straight up to the net, backhand volley, caught off-balance: three break points.
Sitting on the bed, she was staring at me brazenly. Her nose was blocked and her eyes bore signs of violent tears.
Disregarding her physical disintegration, I threw myself into the second set with the determination of the great champions.
“I love you, but I am going to count up to ten, okay? If you don’t get your backside off that bed, I won’t be responsible for my actions.” I had no idea what it would be appropriate to do when this absurd ultimatum was up.
Amazingly, she complied without complaint. My mouth was watering already. If all went according to plan, we could sit down to eat before 9 p.m., and then enjoy one of the cinema greats. 
Yet, unpredictably, my wife pulled out a stool, perched on it with no grace whatsoever and attempted to get her suitcase down off the top of the closet. 
“Tell me, what are you doing?”
“Doing? Getting out of here. That’s all.”
“On an empty stomach?”
We were steering towards a decisive tie-break.
She threw a lamp in my face. I dodged it skillfully. The taut trajectory of the rococo candelabra collided with the bad-taste frame imprisoning our wedding photo. That seemed a crude call to me, but I refrained from pointing this out to the hateful fury I had for a wife. Especially as she was now advancing towards me brandishing one of my tennis rackets. 
“I’m not in the mood for playing doubles,” I pointed out.
“Get lost,” she advised.
Woman, what a strange evanescent creature, I pondered. Eight years of exemplary docility negated in just one afternoon. 
Fleeing as fast as possible from this exasperating and potentially homicidal evil witch, I slunk into the kitchen and made myself the snack of desperation (a cracker with Brie). Then I took up position again in the living-room, with my laptop on my knees.

Seven euros fifty. The auction was not going well. Probably because I didn’t upload a photo. It was really stupid to have quarrelled with Estelle for such a small amount. 
She had come across the advert accidentally this morning. I had forgotten to shut down my eBay session.

For sale, wife, 35 years old, perfect working condition. Very little used. Excellent cook. Accessories supplied. Papers in order. Minimum maintenance. Never ill. Reason for sale: moving abroad.

It was a joke, of course. I had no intention of leaving the country.

The film started. In the bedroom, I could still hear Estelle moving around for a while. Finally, the apartment door slammed. Peace and quiet were restored.

I cancelled the advert on the auction site, having nothing left to trade. I put my feet on the table and fell straight into an exotic reverie.

I’m not the sort of man to get upset over a few euros.

Translated by Wendy Cross

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