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Sofifee

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253

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It was the first year she had gone there alone. Since she had lost Stéphane three years ago in that accident, she had not wanted to hear about the house where they had been so happy. 
She had stopped, facing the ocean, two streets before the one where her house awaited her. She had been unable to get out of her car for more than an hour, incapable of covering the last few feet to open the shutters and put down her things.
To gather her strength, she decided to walk along the beach and get a good breath of fresh air. At the end of her walk, she arrived at Pen Bron Point. She stopped, lay down on the fine sand, closed her eyes, listened to the sound of the waves and felt the warmth of the sun caress her body.
She felt very tired from the journey, sleep crept up on her and she surrendered to it...
There she was, on the beach, with her family, like it had been every summer. She set up the umbrella to protect the ice-box, laid out the towels for the children for when they got out of the water and opened her book. 
Like he did every morning, Stéphane had gone to the port to watch the boats come back from fishing, to look for the one belonging to Henri, with whom he had become friends over the years from buying his sardines and mackerel for the evening barbecue. 
Stéphane loved the sea, it reminded him of his childhood on his island far away where he had spent every summer. 
In the ten years since they had bought this house, the summers had been lovely, it was their little corner of paradise. The children met up with their friends at the sailing school, Stéphane took up again with his fishermen friends and she devoured the books she had collected all throughout the year, dreaming of when she could lose herself in them. The place smelled of happiness.
She could hear the children shouting, racing towards her, betting who would be first. As usual it was Vincent who won. Shivering with cold, bundled up in his towel, he came to cling onto her to get warm. “Harder, Mom, rub my back, the water’s so cold, but it’s so nice!” Juliette came up, also shivering, and joined the tribe, snuggling up to her big brother who, in his turn, wrapped her in his arms and his warmth.
All three lay on the sand; the sun shone and its rays warmed them. They knew he would not be long in joining them with the bread he would have bought on the way back.
She loved that moment, when he softly cuddled into her, making no noise so as not to wake the children and make the most of that time before they threw themselves all over him.
There he was! She could feel him, very close, he was tickling her feet. She gently opened her eyes. Reality tugged at her, in the form of a lively little crab nipping at her toes. She got up; there was no one around, just a seagull taking off again.
Now she was ready to open the blue shutters and let the light into their house, without him... and return to life!

Translated by Wendy Cross

253

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