Down here in lovely Argelès-sur-Mer I have two writer friends (actually more and it’s a colony for artists of all types). This time I decided that it would be fun to be able to write with them during one of their normal exercises and requested – and to my shock – duly received not only permission, but also an invitation to do so.
The basic premise of this exercise is for one of them to pick a body (a passer by on the street outside the coffee shop) then they write for about 10 minutes. Stories are then read, first by the person who didn’t choose the victim (I too was rather startled by the phrase “I picked the body, so you have to read first” until I remembered that one is a mystery writer).
The dark glasses didn’t block the brilliant sun from hurting her eyes. Of course the light was a contrast to the dark church where she’d listened to the early mass as she had every day for the last forty years.
She’d started when Frédéric had been so sick, his blood cells fighting with each other. The good cells had won, merci dieu and in thankfulness, she’d gone to morning mass every day since, except when she had the flu and her hysterectomy.
Now she wondered if his life had been a good thing. A month ago she’d have gone for a coffee across the street but she couldn’t face her friends.
Her baby boy, once so sweet, had been in all the papers laying on the ground his arms behind him, his hands attached.
Police were wheeling away the cloth-draped guerneys.
Frédéric’s gun was being held by one of the flics.
She’d had trouble praying this morning. All she could say over and over “forgive him, forgive me”.
Story two: LS
She hated the wind with a passion but wouldn’t have missed a visit to the church for anything. It was a way to talk to Ricardo who had been dead well over 30 years but still answered when she spoke. She couldn’t expect Karls her “new husband” of 15 years to understand but he was open-minded enough not to comment.
She liked her morning routine of lighting a candle for Ricardo, one for their daughter who was following her own path but certainly not the right one, according to Karl and most of the neighbors.
That was the thing about living in a village. People had a collective mind and opinion and the only moment of privacy was when you locked yourself in the bathroom.
It was taking a while for Ricardo to respond today. Her biggest fear was that one day he might not answer her questions – then what? She’ll have to turn to Karl.
Story three: JSL
She struggled against the wind, even her tightly tied scarf fluttered and struggled to break free. Thin, greying, sensible shoes and a raincoat, she could have been anyone’s beloved aunt.
However, underneath her rather worn exterior beat a heart and body that had known a much gayer life young.
She had been the prima ballerina in a group in Paris young. The darling of the director, she – it was inevitable – she was also his mistress. At 25 she was forced to abort his child. At 30 she was cast aside both professionally and personally and for 10 years walked the streets making a living.
At 40 she was desperate to become a mother so married the only man who would have her: they adopted two children and life was stable for a few years. She came to love her husband and adore the children.
At 50 she lost them all in one of those freak accidents.
Not at 60 she is leaving the church at 9:30 on a Friday morning. Guilty? In pain? Or finally at peace?