Exactly Under the Sun


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It was a deserted spot; she had chosen this time deliberately to get some peace. With her eyes closed, she let herself be rocked by the waves breaking on the beach, in ceaseless motion. The sun warmed her skin and she stretched out and relaxed, drawing two little circles in the warm sand with the tips of her fingers.
She had waited so long for this summer, after months of slaving away at work. Getting away, spending time with Pierre, lazing around in the sun, with the smell of doughnuts, sea-salt, and coconut scented sun cream. She had dashed to Chez Maté Lingerie as soon as the sales had started and chosen with care her little red and white striped two-piece swimsuit. It fit her like a glove, she was stunning in it and Pierre was going to LOVE it!

Things had gotten difficult when Moron, her jobsworth of a boss, had brought up the subject of the summer vacation again. Now that Sophie had left, and because of the need to ensure continuity for any clients who might not be away on vacation, he had gone back on his word and had not agreed to her vacation request. She was the newest employee and had no children, so no constraints. She could, lucky girl, go to Biarritz in October when vacation prices would be a third of what they were in summer! Listening to his hypocritical argument, she had nearly walked out and slammed the door; then the memory of 15 months looking for a job in Bourgoin-Joyeux, which is not the most joyful town in France, had come back to her with a vengeance. Emilie had given in. She would go later, and further, without Pierre who could not change his vacation dates at the drop of a hat.

She was dragged from her reverie by the voices of children. She opened her eyes and brusquely pulled out her MP3 earpieces.
“Madame, you're taking up all the room, we can't play!” the little girl complained. She must have been about six and was staring at her with incredulity, holding her little brother by one hand and her bucket by the other. Emilie leapt up, tied her beach towel around her hips and got out of the sandbox. She had her revenge planned: at this rate, two hours in the square at the end of the street, every day at lunch-time, she would have a better tan than Moron when he came back from Marseille on August 15th! She smiled at the thought as she made her way back to the office.
 

-- Translated by Wendy Cross

127

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