In the Dark

Image of Léa Gerst

Léa Gerst

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“Arthur, hurry up, you’ll be late for school!” 
“OK, Mom, I’m coming!”
I was totally in the dark. First I bumped into my bed, then I bumped into my chest of drawers. At least, I thought it was my chest of drawers. I wasn’t too sure because I was totally in the dark. 
I held out my arms in front of me and that helped a bit. I found the door and went out into the hallway, trying to get my bearings. This was the bathroom door, that one was the door to my parents’ bedroom. And at the end, the office. I knew that one because the door handle was much too high for me. My Dad had put it there on purpose to stop me from getting in. Apparently there are loads of horrible, fascinating and, in particular, dangerous things locked inside… That’s why I really want to be able to get in there!
But I will be able to when I grow up a bit. I can already almost reach the handle by standing on my toy-box! 
There was no room facing the office, only my Granny’s old dresser, the one that frightened me a bit when I looked at it closely. But right now I was all in the dark. And as I couldn’t see the dresser, it couldn’t really frighten me! 
The rug slid about under my feet, it was funny to feel it and not be able to see it. It was as soft as Gipsy, my first teddy bear. 
I went a bit further, still totally in the dark, and nearly fell flat on my face. 
I recovered as well as I could just as an angry meowing came from around my feet. 
“Oops, sorry, Dusty!” 
I had just tripped over my cat, lying on the floor.

I bent down, felt around and picked up the fat cat who I knew was all white, although I still couldn’t see anything. I had some trouble holding him in the darkness. I didn’t really know where the animal’s head or tail were. So I gripped him against my body as best I could. 
“Aaaarthur!”
I didn’t answer. With my arms full of Dusty, I went up to the place where I thought I would find the stairs that go down to the ground floor. I reached the end of the rug and put my feet on the wooden floor. Then, with the tips of my toes, I tried to find where the steps began. 
The big furry ball, who was not very happy about being transported in this way, tried to jump down to the ground before there was a disaster. 
“Hang on, we’re nearly at the bottom!” I announced, as much for the benefit of the cat as for my mother who was waiting for me. 
I finally reached the top step and went down carefully. It was still just as dark! What an adventure to rediscover my house in this way! 
I stopped, clung onto the cat a bit tighter, then ventured down the rest of the steps one at a time. In fact, I had to sway a bit, pushing my shoulders back to keep hold of Dusty and my feet forward so as not to miss a step. My pride did not last long. Mom must have seen me and she shouted, “Arthur, put that cat down, and hurry up or you’ll miss your first day of school! And in the name of the goddess Circe, take your father’s hat off, it’s much too big for you! You can’t even see! It’s a miracle you didn’t fall down the stairs!”
I hesitated for a moment. I would have liked to go down as far as the entrance hall like that... I let the cat jump out of my arms and, a little sulkily, lifted up the rim of the black hat pulled down over my eyes. I had borrowed the big pointed hat from my parents’ room. I just wanted to try it on… 
Mom helped me put my cape on and said to me, smiling, “Come on darling, get your bag and your school things. We’re off!” 
I quickly picked up my leather saddlebag and my little tin cauldron and took my place in front of Mom on her broomstick. As a little wizard I couldn’t wait to have my first lesson in spells and potions!

Translated by Wendy Cross

126

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