“My swallow? Yes, it’s on the left…”
Marie automatically glanced into the mirror. She had been wearing that little tattoo so long she never noticed it any more… But here, in the changing room, the mirrors reflected back to her a perfectly uniform image of her back. She touched her shoulder, and pushed back her dark mane of hair. No, the swallow was not there anymore…
“Hang on, that’s not possible…”
However Marie scrutinised her reflection, it did not offer her even the shadow of a wing. Louise, who would not give up, made her friend turn round.
“Ahhhh… there it is! I don’t know how you did that but it looks great, there’s no sign of the old one…”
The little head of the blue bird was peeking out of Marie’s jeans exactly midway between a beauty spot and her navel. Marie looked at her stomach in amazement. No, she hadn’t done anything. It just wasn’t possible. Not possible, but undeniable, nevertheless: the swallow had moved…
Two days later, Marie had stopped wondering. The swallow moved around her body with total freedom. It had decorated her lower back, then gone back up to her neck, caressed a breast, and then seemed to have settled on her right forearm. As long as it didn’t settle on her face, Marie had decided to let it do as it liked.
A few weeks went by, and finding where the swallow had chosen its home had become a game when, one morning, looking for her bird, Marie had had to accept the evidence in front of her eyes: her body was completely void of blue ink. Saddened, she got into the habit of putting a few seeds in her navel when she went to sleep and waited.
It was round about that time that the wild grasses, trees and flowers began to grow. At first over her feet, then along her arms and over her back. Very beautiful designs, all in black ink, developed over her.
Marie had begun to look like a forest glade, but it did not worry her; when she walked through the streets, carried along by the nature covering her, she felt carefree and happy. At the beginning, she hid the motifs adorning her body, then she decided to show them off with pride, drawing attention to them by wearing earrings in the shape of birds and decorating her hair with fresh flowers.
One evening, she had noticed in one of the trees on her back that a nest was forming. She was sure that her swallow was going to come back. To please him, she had bought herself a necklace of little flowers made of multi-colored jewels and had started to go for long walks in the woods. She couldn’t wait to have her bird back.
“Mommy! Are we going for a walk?”
“Yes, darling, get your bike, put a hat on, and we’ll go. Which way do you want to go?”
“Through the park, then we can buy an ice cream before we get to the woods!”
In the nest, three eggs with blueish shells had appeared. Marie was radiant. She was going to have a family! The swallow had passed by her neck and done her the honor of a detour by her hips before starting to sit on the eggs. Marie had begun to eat healthily and was overdoing the seeds a bit. She really wanted to make a good impression on the nestlings which would not be long in arriving.
One morning, feeling they were about to hatch and wishing to ensure the little ones’ first sight of life was a beautiful one, she had decided to spend her day in the woods. With her pretty necklace around her neck, and a few flowers planted in her hair, she had prepared sandwiches, a lemon drink and some fruit, and set off for her walk. To celebrate the event, she had put on her blue sandals, the exact color of her swallow.
“Oh, look Mom! Little bits of eggs!”
“They’re pieces of eggshell, darling, there must be some little baby birds near here. If you keep still and look around carefully, with a bit of luck you might see them.”
At the foot of the tree, there was a little picnic basket and some blue sandals. The child sat down quietly next to them, with his ice cream cornet in his hand, and started to peer into the branches nearest to him. He heard a faint chirping and squinted to look harder.
“There! I can see them!”
Three tiny swallows covered in down were sticking their furry heads out of a nest. Impressed by his discovery, the child held his breath. He was fascinated by the little beings which were clamouring to be fed. Deciding to share his ice cream with them, he stood up with extreme care and cautiously approached the nest.
Light glinting on the trunk of the tree caught his attention.
“Mommy! Come and see! The tree trunk… It’s wearing a necklace…”
The little boy was pointing his little finger covered in ice-cream towards the tree. A pretty necklace made up of multiple little flowers of colored jewels was encrusted into the trunk.
Translated by Wendy Cross