In the Niger River region, there is a town whose name is the stuff of dreams: the mysterious Timbuktu. They say that, a very long time ago, the nomads entrusted the care of a well there to an old... [+]
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Her eyes have been open for half an hour now in the darkness of the bedroom. She always prefers to wait for the sunrise. Gently, she removes the thick duvet and seeks out the warmth of her slippers that take her as far as the bathroom. The cold, smooth cupboard under the sink hides a secret stash: tights, a T-shirt, short socks, and a windbreaker in a smart navy blue. She dresses and creeps down the stairs, avoiding the step that creaks.
She sips a large, steaming cup of tea at the kitchen table, engrossed in the garden through the bay window. The lawn is always a bit too long and the hedge badly cut. The chairs are rusting on the terrace. She ignores the cat sliding its muddy paws over the window.
She finds one sneaker near the cupboard in the hall. The second is upside down under the umbrella. The joints of her hands go white when she tightens her laces. She begins by a bit of walking. Rows of houses, semi-detached and built in the seventies, with sloping roofs and little gardens looking onto the street. She starts to run slowly. A slight run with little steps. All very gentle. The houses change, now she is passing new, single-family homes. With garages, large colorful front doors, and concrete barbecues.
She changes her rhythm as she enters the marshland. This morning the mist is very thick over the meadows. A bit of dampness before a beautiful day. She increases her pace, her feet start to take off. The air is cool in her nostrils, the wind slows her down. The heavy rains of the previous day have filled the canals almost to overflowing. Ducks are splashing at a moorhen. Double exhalation. A man is walking his dog near the mill that doesn’t turn any more. She says hello to him. Boats tied up, the smell of the water, wet leaves. She can feel her legs, her thighs, her calves. Her feet are flying. And on the slippery little bridge she notices how light her thoughts have become. I’m really letting that case get to me too much. The return route starts in a field of artichokes and, not for the first time, she sees a heron taking off.
She wipes her feet before opening the front door. The house’s silence has definitely vanished. The noise of the coffee-maker, the news on the radio, the cat miaowing. Upstairs, the baby howling. Her husband’s voice, tender and serious, “Morning, gorgeous.” And this question from a five-year-old Spiderman gripping her in his spider arms, “Mommy! Where’ve you been, Mommy?” It is time to start her day.
Translated by Wendy Cross