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From my window above the town, I can just glimpse the front door of Izia’s house. The front of the house is yellow like a very ripe lemon. I can’t see her sweet little face from here, but I can picture her moving over the waxed parquet.
Izia?
She’s a young disabled woman who spends the better part of her time laughing and singing!
I sometimes feel ashamed of complaining, especially when I meet her in her pretty wheelchair, which is also yellow, from the worn tires to the wheel rims.
She always offers up her good humour to life, as if in thanks for it having protected her from the worst. We are all insignificant creatures, compared to that serene pretty brunette.
One summer’s day, when the sun was flaunting itself over the world, five years ago now, she forgot to look both ways when she was crossing the road.
I found myself there completely by chance, for an encounter whose exact details now completely escape me. There followed a deafening noise, then a pervasive silence. I very soon realized that I had been given a role in that dramatic scene, to be played out on a tragic stage. I was scarcely capable of observing the suffering of a beautiful kid who, a few seconds earlier, had no doubt been basking in carefreeness.
I touched the bottom of an abyss when I caught myself weeping as I called for help.
It was some time coming. 
The minutes seemed like hours.
I had to perform an improvised cardiac massage, talk to her to keep her mind with me, and finally hold her hand as we waited for the dual tone of the shrieking sirens coming to our assistance.
At that precise moment, everything seemed pointless to me.
Under the supervision of two charming men in white coats, Izia set off for her destiny. For a brief second, her fingers gripped my left forearm, very hard, so hard that it left a red mark for several days, like an indelible souvenir. I took that as a sign of distress, of course, but also probably of infinite gratitude, one tenderness exchanged for another.
I asked about her every day.
I watched over her from near and far in her induced coma.
I set about protecting her, perhaps loving her…
I begged her to come back.
I took her photo.
I put it on my phone.
Then the day arrived when she came out of the coma.
I didn’t even dare go to her!
I was afraid of not being enough for her.
I was afraid of not managing to provide total reassurance for her.
I was quite simply afraid of not knowing what to say to her.
So I returned spontaneously to the location of the accident, and I tried to relive the few most dramatic minutes of my life.
I knelt down on the road. I simulated my act of bravery several times, before fleeing back to my home, some hundred miles away.
But I was troubled, and decided to stay another few days, a week, I think, in a hotel room, right opposite the hospital. During that terrible period, I looked out of the window thousands of times, hoping to see her appear. One morning I thought I caught sight of her, on the second floor balcony, the biggest and furthest one, but I am not sure it was her.
My imagination wanted to see her so much that her face appeared everywhere.
With a heavy heart, I had to make up my mind to return to the fold. I remember driving so fast I felt as if I was skimming over the highway!
I also remember Izia’s face, occupying the underside of my eyelids throughout the whole journey. Hardly had I arrived at my destination and collapsed onto the black leather sofa, than I called my best friend to explain the story in detail to her. She told me that I should forget it all as quickly as I could, that it was a sort of syndrome or some such thing. So I tried to take notice of what she said. It was very difficult. I even think I had not yet managed it when the most incredible thing occurred.
It happened two years almost to the day after the accident, so three years ago now.
Izia moved in just down the road from me!
Chance is a very strange thing sometimes…
Since she became ‘close’ I have not yet dared tell her she is not a stranger to me. I have not dared admit to her that I saw her unconscious half naked, covered in blood, on a road where the tarmac was melting. I am moved by her every morning at the newspaper stand, when she smiles at me as well as giving me a little wave. Sometimes I give her a small bunch of flowers which I buy at the next stall. I do not know what to do to let her know who I really am. How can I reveal the truth without upsetting her, without causing her more pain than she already has to contend with.
Izia is an angel.
She is so beautiful, so gentle.
This evening, it is hot like on the day of the drama. I am walking slowly along the pavement. I have activated my internal GPS in the direction of the yellowest wall in the town. Outside her door, I hesitate to knock, just as I have always done, for all this time. Today, however, I have in my pocket the scarf she left on the kiosk counter. I picked it up without a word to anyone, all the while planning what I would do.
I notice that the kitchen window is half-open.
I call her timidly at first, then I shout,
"Iziiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiaaaaaaaaaa!”
My hands are trembling. A trickle of sweat begins to run down from my shoulder blades. My legs start to quiver. I stand there, like a different person.
She appears from nowhere, hardly any higher than the table. She does not seem surprised to see me. She gives me a smile, yet another one.
Proudly, I say to her in a honeyed voice,
“Here, I’ve brought you your scarf!”
Her expression grows serious.
“Come here!” she says to me.
This is the first time I have heard the sound of her voice.
She opens the door. 
She comes right up to the step.
I lean towards her as if to slip a word into her ear. 
I breathe her in.
She smells good. 
She knows she is making me loom over her. 
She reverses slightly. 
On her seat, she acts out a dance of pleasure.
She comes up to me again.
I brush her lips.
She grips my left forearm very hard and says,
“Thank you for everything!”

Translated by Wendy Cross

221

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