I am convinced it was a Thursday because I had one day left before the weekend and in those circumstances that extra day was unbearable.
So that Thursday, I received a letter that came directly to my workplace. It was in my mailbox and the handwriting on the envelope revealed its author. If I specify handwriting, it’s because it is rare these days to be holding words traced by a hand and not a keyboard. That’s how it was.
I had to wait till lunch-time to get a chance to be on my own and find out what was enclosed within this envelope. I am giving you this letter, word for word, and I ask you to read it very carefully:
In a moment of decisiveness I have made up my mind to write, because it seems clear to me that I would never have the courage to say this to your face and that I would never again have this certainty of letting words go beyond consequences which are impossible to foresee.
I have made a bet. Or rather, a pact. Not even a pact. I said something I can never go back on. If words still mean anything down here, and although they are flying away now with this letter, I want these written to remain. I want them to accompany me and to reach you by this path.
My untamed share in the world.
A second isle of beauty, or even the original, before Corsica emerged from the waters of the Mediterranean, and before the Mediterranean itself was given a name.
An unconquered homeland.
A prodigious orchard.
An appeal for donations to fight cancer, AIDS, malaria, Alzheimer’s, poverty, hunger, thirst, frigidity and the massacre of baby seals.
The pearl of rain in the song.
The proof of the existence of extra-terrestrial life and the announcement of the end of humankind.
A nebulous void.
The silence of a cathedral.
Hecate. Titania. Morgane. All of Shakespeare’s witches.
A sunrise over Corcovado.
A drizzle over the North Sea.
A breath on the back of the neck.
The light of a full moon.
Hair on a pillow.
You who are constantly talking to me about your hair. Of how you are afraid you don’t have the right kind of hair. Your hair that I want to feel tickling my nostrils every morning the world may send me. Your hair as proof that you will never, ever be alone again, neither you, nor me, and that we will be us. Your hair as witness of the children we will create, and whom we will bring up. You will be the mother. I will be the father. I will be the husband, the teammate who will carry the weight of what you can sometimes no longer carry.
I have made this pledge to be indivisible from you. Meet me at the place you know, if I haven’t written in vain.
I could not leave work, I had fought so hard to get this job, I was only in my first year as a secretary... There were no cell phones and as for making a personal call from the office, it was strictly forbidden. A colleague who was a bit sharper than the others had noticed I was in a state, in fact she told me I was red, that my cheeks were burning and she thought I was coming down with a fever. I told her everything and she arranged for me to take my Friday off.
The clarity of that day still dazzles me now. The day when I was certain about one thing in my life, when I felt whole although I had lived all alone in my body without any major problems.
So now let me tell you.
I told you about that moment because it is a Thursday and you have the same unmanageable hair as me. So if your head is full of nothing but his smell and his embrace, don’t question it, jump on a train - don’t take the car, you are too distracted to drive properly. Take the time to feel the certainty. The same one I felt with your father: of how he had become a man, and I was his future wife, the wife of the man I had been waiting for. And be happy, my daughter.
Translated by Wendy Cross