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Jury Selection

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He wonders if she enjoyed it. It was such a long time since he had made love. He’s getting old and tired. He should take up sport again. He tried hard to hide his weaknesses by varying the pleasure. He wonders if she was taken in by this.

She wonders if he is going to get his breath back. He seemed to be unreasonably exhausted. There was a moment when she thought he would not make it to the end. How old is he? Forty, at the very most? Perhaps if he smoked less, he would have given her more pleasure. After several weeks of waiting and doubting, she is a little disappointed. She wonders what he is thinking about.

He is thinking that women are patient and that she won’t be annoyed with him. After the weeks they have spent getting close, she won’t want to give up just like that. But all the same, he should have made an effort. He knew that it would happen. Yes, but he had thought that it was like riding a bike, you didn’t forget it. Once you knew how to pedal without training wheels, that was it, forever. But sometimes age catches up with you. How long was it? Eight months, maybe. He knows he is lying to himself. It must be at least a year. You can forget anything, and he has put on a lot of weight. He wonders if she has noticed.

She has noticed that he has more of a stomach than she would have expected. A small stomach is not that important, she tells herself, but all the same, she had imagined him to be muscular. She had thought he worked out a bit. But after all, she is not really perfect either. She wonders if he noticed her stretch marks.

He did notice her stretch marks. That was a shock to him. He had fantasized so much about her bottom! Once the miracle had been exposed, he came down to earth with a bang. Not because he no longer had any desire, but the disappointment made him want to get the task over with quickly. And now he rather regrets that. He wonders if he is going to continue their affair.

She wonders if there is any point continuing their affair. She had had high hopes, but he is too much like those other idiots who have shared her bed. The sort who woo you attentively but don’t even try to make love to you properly. Suddenly, you no longer exist. She can see he is avoiding meeting her eyes. She wonders if he is feeling bad about it at all.

He is feeling bad about it. He had thought she would bring him real pleasure, that it could be the beginning of something. But that’s what always happened. Once her body was revealed and consumed, desire fell brutally away. He feels that he will soon tire of this woman who is no longer unknown to him. Yet he wished he wanted to continue. He would like to make love to her again. He wishes that he wanted to kiss her tenderly whispering “I love you” softly in her ear. He wonders how he can get away without being considered a bastard.

What a bastard! He’s not saying a word to her, but she knows what he’s thinking. He’s looking at the door a bit more often than is acceptable. She says to herself that he could at least pretend, sleep here, show a bit of tenderness towards her, as if right now she mattered to him a bit. And after having spent the night thinking, he would tell her that now was not the right time, that he was just coming out of a complicated relationship and didn’t want to cause her any suffering because of his past. She wonders if he will dare tell her that he has to get up early in the morning.

He tells her that he has to get up early in the morning. He is a bit embarrassed. He should have thought up a more original excuse. He feels that she understands. He tries to justify himself. Tomorrow is Sunday. He claims that he has a long drive to go and see his mother, in Orléans. He wonders if she is going to give him hell.

She gives him hell. Not because she is cross that he is dumping her straight afterwards, but because he doesn’t seem to give a shit about her. And because this is all she’s got left. She’s going to make him feel so guilty that if he really is having lunch with his mother, he will have trouble digesting the Basque chicken. She wonders if he will apologize.

He apologizes as best he can, but maintains his version of the facts. He wants to give the illusion of truth, that he really cannot stay. That they might see each other again. That they might fall in love. But that tonight, it’s really not possible, he has to go. It’s out of his control. A sort of indescribable and irrepressible male impulse. He wonders at what precise moment he should open the door.

She wonders at what precise moment he will open the door.

He wonders if she is going to cry.

She wonders if she is going to cry.

He wonders if he might be doing something stupid.

She wonders if she might be about to do something stupid.

He hesitates.

She starts to cry.

They wonder why they made love tonight.

Translated by Wendy Cross


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