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152

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Eight o’clock. The alarm clock rings. Dishevelled and already very irritated, I look daggers at it. It keeps ringing. It’s provoking me, it turns up the volume. I go mad! I smash it right in its horrid alarm-clock face. A lovely silence. I close my eyes again. My telephone rings, I yell with rage at their scheming! They’ve all ganged up to annoy me. That’s normal, it’s Monday and I’m late. At last my bed gives me permission to leave it, I promise to return that night, I am already dreaming of the moment. I give it a kiss. The floor tiles are cold and the coffee is too hot. My mouth feels crumpled and I can’t find my lighter. That’s also joined in with the Monday morning plot. It thinks I’ve got time to play hide and seek, it’s having a laugh wherever it is, hidden away in the shadows watching me. I begin to hate it. I find a match, THE only one left, the little splinter hasn’t had time to hide… There it is shrinking into my ash-tray and my bad mood cools off a bit. 
There’s a ring at my door, I shout, “I’m coming, we’re not on fire!” I laugh to myself because indeed we aren’t. Maybe it’s my lighter ringing the doorbell.
Bad move. My neighbor Simone. I am sure she’s appeared at this precise moment because she is the brains behind the Monday plot. She has it all worked out, they’ve been plotting all night against me, they even put my photo on a wall and threw darts at the middle of my forehead! She gave instructions to all the objects in the house: “Hairdryer, instead of blowing, you will break down at 8.40. Car keys, when I give you the signal you will hide in the laundry basket.” 
I am going crazy! She looks at me with little weasel eyes – I’m sure that’s what she was in a previous life – and drags me from my thoughts,
“Have you got any milk?”
I am seriously thinking of strangling her with the belt of my dressing-gown, which must be in league with her because it seems to have disappeared. Simone really does think of everything. 
So I go and fetch some milk and throw it in her face (at least that’s what I do in my head and it makes me feel better). What I really say to her is,
“There you are, Simone, have a good day, Simone, and how are your forty-eight cats?”
At last she goes. I really, really wish that she would end up being devoured by her cats and I promise myself that if that ever happens, I will never be late again.
I put my lipstick on and go out to my… CAR?! What? My car’s not here? I almost feel surprised, but it’s one more proof of Monday morning. I hesitate to roll screaming on the ground, as I am in the street and there are lots of people, it would make a scene, and I like my new dress too much to subject it to that. I take a cigarette from my bag, and I remember: fate really has it in for me. Still no lighter.
I turn round and catch sight of a young man sitting outside a café. I wonder why he is smiling at me like that, and on a Monday morning as well. I tell myself that he must be completely crazy or maybe it’s because HE has a lighter? I attempt a smile but he doesn’t move.
He asks me if I live here. I reply,
“Yes, but my car doesn’t any more. It’s just moved without telling me.”
He laughs again! He’s really not all there… 
“Maybe I can help you find it?”
He’s being a bit familiar, the idiot.
“I’d rather you took me straight to work before I have to invent an imaginary pregnancy to stop my boss getting rid of me!”
At that moment, I see myself with a cushion slipped awkwardly under my dress and my boss, in pieces, asking me if I am serious.
“That’s OK,” he replies with a smile that goes right down to his toes.
We go over to his car and I slide onto the seat. Comfortable. I am almost relaxed, he puts some music on, the radio spews out ‘The End’ by the Doors; I ask him if he has heard of the Monday morning brotherhood and if I can use his dental floss to slash my wrists. He flashes me such a perfect smile that I feel I have been punched in the mouth. His happiness hurts my eyes, it dazzles me. His good mood feels like an assault. I curl up into a ball on the seat and refuse to say another word. He obviously has no awareness of the plotters all around me. In the end he breaks the ice with great gusts of laughter.
Shit. My heart has just been tied in knots.
I look at him sideways, I am surprised to find that he is terribly attractive and that he is still smiling. I watch his hands on the wheel, I already feel that I would kill all Simone’s cats with a pickaxe for those hands to touch me.
I light another cigarette with his lighter. I take my phone out of my pocket, it shows just one bar of battery even though it has been on charge all night. As if I hadn’t already got the message! How much longer do I have to suffer before it is Tuesday?
I call work. My boss answers.
“I’m busy giving birth! I’m going to be a bit late.”
I hang up.
The guy who smiles too much, with the sublime hands, asks if he should drive to the maternity hospital. I let out a little laugh, and stop myself. He’s not going to get me.
He looks like an advert on the Internet. The one that invites you to win “thousands of dollars a month”. You just have to click on a huge link that’s winking so fast it thinks it’s blinded us already. But are the people who invent these adverts so drugged up that they think for one second we can’t see through their tricks? They think they can make us swallow anything, including Simone’s forty-eight cats.
I get even more angry. I will not fall for this guy! He is a dishonest piece of advertising. 
He tells me his name is Pierre. I feel like saying I won’t hold that against him. But I feel stupid before I say it. I say nothing. I cough and squirm, my bad mood is making me itch all over. We arrive at my work.
“Pick me up at seven o’clock precisely.”
He roars with laughter and nods in agreement.
“We’re having dinner together, then?”
I think I say yes, and I find myself outside my office staring at the big clock and wondering how many times it will chime before seven o’clock comes round.
My boss interrupts this interminable wait, he is talking very loudly and has gone bright red, I don’t understand what he is saying: what’s this birth he’s talking about? The door slams, and I can breathe again.
I decide to go for lunch, I sit with my colleagues from the office. They are prattling away. I start a conversation in my mind with my green salad. It seems to agree with everything I say. I ask them to pass me Pierre instead of the salt, I bang my toe on the photocopier, I throw an important file into the bin instead of my magazine, I count backwards, I cut the end of my finger with an envelope and I spend ten minutes at the coffee machine with a stamp stuck to my face.
At the end of the day I don’t know what my name is any more, and I’ve been to check what I look like in the mirror a dozen times, and a dozen times I looked exactly the same but I still can’t work out if this is a good thing or not.
Seven o’clock. The big clock rings. And it gets louder and louder, the noise is deafening and I fall over.
When I open my eyes, I am in my bed. The alarm clock says 10.30.
I am really late now!!!

Translated by Wendy Cross

152

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