The Age of the Possible

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Amelie looked at herself in the mirror for the fifteenth time. It was no good. She didn’t look right. She hastily pulled off the tee-shirt that made her look like a badly-stuffed sausage and the too-short skirt and glanced at the clock. At this rate, she would end up being late. It might be good form to keep someone waiting a little on a first date, but you shouldn’t push it too far, she thought as she rummaged in her closet.
Ah, the navy blue cropped pants, she had forgotten those, let’s hope they still fit. With the little white lace blouse, that would be perfect. 
Amelie hurriedly put on her new outfit, shook her hair free and stood up straight, her eyes fixed on her reflection. She stifled a nervous little laugh. It wouldn’t take much for her to start trembling. It wasn’t the first romantic date in her life. But today she could feel that this one would be different. She and John had already talked a lot. First on the telephone and then by Skype.
“Calm down,” she admonished herself, speaking to her reflection in the mirror.
John seemed to share her expectations. The first time he had appeared on the screen, she had thought he was a bit awkward. That was quite normal, to be honest she was not at ease either. Then they had engaged in conversation, quite naturally, at any rate easily enough for Amelie to have eventually wanted to meet him in the flesh.
He had not given her the impression of being the type who played the field. That was also important, essential even, to Amelie. The number of guys she had come across in emails from the site who had seemed to be on a perpetual quest, always looking for ‘something better’ or simply full of that intolerable self-satisfaction of seeing how many they could attract, just to flatter their own ego, indulging in one affair after another.
She arrived just a few minutes late and saw John straightaway, sitting on the terrace outside the café, his eyes turned to the river. She particularly liked that ‘thoughtful’ side to him she had sensed right from the beginning. Taking time to enjoy life, unhurriedly, so very possible as a couple. She wanted nothing more.
The first ‘real’ hello. Slightly embarrassed smiles. Bits of unfinished sentences, sidelong glances, as if the whole world could guess that their meeting had its origins on the Internet.
Come on, it’s 2016, everybody knows it’s more and more common! Amelie had repeated in an attempt to convince herself.
The little knot in the pit of her stomach, and a fear of feeling judged by her loved ones, continued to torment her.
First they talked about everything and nothing. About the tidal bore which would soon occur, about the morning mist over the Garonne when the first pickers were harvesting the grapes next to Amelie’s garden. Then John talked about his life. His past, painful like Amelie’s. But when their eyes met, a spark erased all sadness and nostalgia.
They began to laugh, still about everything and nothing.
After an hour, they felt as if they had known each other a long time. A foregone conclusion had established itself. John even ventured to take her hand, gently and naturally.
Amelie smiled shyly. She still needed reassurance. John murmured,
“When you’re seventy-five, just like when you’re twenty, you still have a right to happiness. We both know how painful it is to be widowed, but life still goes on and it is beautiful. It is waiting for us.”
He wiped a tear from his cheek.
They walked for a long time, hand in hand, by the river.
Life still goes on. It is beautiful. It is waiting for us.
Amelie closed her eyes.
From now on, this would be her Carpe Diem.

Translated by Wendy Cross


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