Lecture Hall B

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I listen absent-mindedly to the radio reading out the various signs of the zodiac and the ‘predictions’ associated with them. That’s a real girly thing, thinking that such and such a planet can have an impact on a whole section of the population who have nothing in common but the same sign of the zodiac...
But when it gets round to Sagittarius, I do listen a bit more carefully, despite myself, to what the presenter is jabbering on about. “As for love, it’s your lucky day.” I shrug and sigh, halfway between irritation and disappointment; a few years ago, when I was still at school, I had declared my feelings to the girl I loved on the day my horoscope advised me to... All I will say about that is that ever since then I have prefered to give that garbage a wide berth.

I decide to waste no more thought on anything to do with horoscopes and turn into the university car park.
A glance at the digital clock on the dashboard tells me I ought to hurry up a bit if I’m not going to miss the beginning of the lecture... So I hastily jump out of the car with my coat under my arm and my phone in my hand to find out which lecture theatre to go to, via his student app.

Just four minutes till the lecture starts. So I rush to hall B and find there are indeed hardly any seats left ... I look for Matthew, but the traitor has not even kept a place for me; our eyes meet and he mouths sorry at me. I sigh, knowing perfectly well that he doesn’t mean it, as all his attention is directed to the pretty girl beside him. Poor thing, what a mistake to go and sit next to an inveterate womaniser...

Be that as it may, the idiot has let me down and I’m going to have to find a seat myself; I go down the rows and sit down quickly in an empty place at the end of a row just as the lecturer comes into the room.
I look to my left: the girl next to me is looking at me, rather surprised at my sudden arrival. She gives me a little smile then concentrates once more on her laptop, her fingers skimming the keyboard to take notes on the lecture that is just starting. As I get out my own computer, I sneak a look at her and examine her discreetly; she is rather ordinary, with mid-length, light brown hair. Leaning forward a bit, I can see dark brown eyes behind her glasses. She stiffens and looks at me, embarrassed, having realized what I’m up to.

Keeping my cool, I try to save face by asking her for clarification on something the lecturer has just said, that I haven’t had time to write down. She looks reassured, smiles at me and turns her screen towards me so I can catch up. I thank her and she nods back at me with a smile.

So, a bit quiet, but, well, what else would you expect in the middle of a lecture... And she did smile at me at least, a real smile, with no ulterior motive, the sort of smile you see a lot less often these days. In order to look at her again, I ask her for a bit more help – even though I don’t really need any –, taking care not to do this too often, so as not to annoy her in her note-taking.

By blithely staring at her, I discover delicate features, high cheek-bones, eyes full of life; when I look closer, she is quite beautiful. Oh shit, I am starting to pay her too much attention... Perhaps... No, no, no! The horoscope hits me between the eyes and I shut it out, refusing to fall once more into the trap of all that nonsense.
I stop asking her for help. A moment later she glances at me in surprise, maybe even slightly disappointed, before focusing on the rest of the lecture.
When it is over, I hastily put my things away, anxious to get away from this romantic illusion. I am starting to move off when I feel someone take hold of my arm.

I turn round, overcome by a wave of hope: my mysterious stranger is holding me back, her mouth half-open as if she is about to tell me something. My brain careers ahead at a hundred miles an hour, imagining ever more improbable scenarios, so that I end up expecting a passionate declaration of love, erasing my disappointing memories of horoscopes... But all she does is hold out a phone to me, my phone, which in my haste I had left behind.

Disappointed and embarrassed by my carelessness, I hurriedly thank her and make my way to the exit. Matthew, who had watched this little scene, catches up with me, slapping my back with gusto with a sidelong look that clearly means “So how did you get on with the girl, then?” but one look from me is enough to make him understand that I am not in the mood. He drops the subject and goes off to join his conquest of the day; as for me, I catch sight of a piece of paper sticking out of the case of my phone. I manage to get it out and when I open it, a huge smile spreads over my face: a number. A cell phone number.

Translated by Wendy Cross


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