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France, from the Lighthouse
I was walking pointlessly on the beach again. It was the third time this week. I don’t know why I even come here. It’s not like she is buried in the awful, gritty sand… in fact, I have no idea where she was buried but I just hoped that if I came back to the place where she disappeared, maybe the fish, the trees and the sharks that last saw her would help me see what happened.
I just dragged my bag by the feeble cord and prayed it wouldn’t break. I could have gotten a new one by now but she seemed to really like this one. She liked the egg white color – in fact, she picked it out for me. I really miss her.
The police refuse to give me any information about her murder.
Now the water started to rise and so did my headache. I went back into the lighthouse. I can almost see myself from the inside like I used to watch her. The alleyway was very narrow, and the stones on the floor were worn to bits; at one time, they had been so perfect that the edges could be used as a weapon. That was before I met her. I actually kept one under my bed to protect myself. I had her name engraved in that stone.
Too simple for such a complex person. When I met her, I had written it with two ‘t’s’ and an ‘e’ but she corrected me every time. She said I was “too European” in her ironic French accent.
In fact I met her in France, at a grimy get-together her brother was holding at his place in Marseilles. I had party-crashed with a friend who knew the guy. I came with my cheap vodka bottle while everyone was drinking their snobby Merlot. I didn’t live in France. I have always been here, in my isolated and plain lighthouse, and I have been happy. But Dot lived in France before coming to live with me; not that we got married, she just wanted to get away from home for some time.
Nobody knew she was going to die here too.
I was in the kitchen practicing a bit of my high school French when Georges asked me, kindly, to leave. Georges, or Jo like I called him (it basically sounded the same to me, honestly), was Dot’s brother. When I say kindly, I mean he was probably cross at something else then came up to me and smashed a wine bottle right onto my nose. The snobs were now looking at my bleeding face.
Dot took my hand and led me to the bathroom ‘quel enfoiré!’’ she exclaimed. That I understood.
There is something about learning language that is so fascinating to me; perhaps it’s the quickness with which we learn curse words. My high school French teacher, Mr. Simmons, was a very weird-looking guy from Alabama.
His French was worse than mine but he had a talent for swearing; we would enter the class and while he was on the phone with his wife he would start cussing in French so we wouldn’t understand, but we all knew.
‘Sabrina, t’es une pute, tu savais ça?’ he used to repeat to her with a perfect French; he just sounded like a recording machine, but anything else he would say would come out sounding wrong or English.
He was known for the first sentence he taught his pupils; ‘Et puis merde quoi!’ and we were free to use the word whenever we wanted. His theory was that swear words are just a sign of a wide vocabulary knowledge, or whatever. I never thought it would be useful until I met Dot.
Dot had just finished cleaning my wound and blabbering about her drunk brother when she looked at me and said “you are the American kid, you don’t understand what I was talking about did you?”
I answered as simply as I could ‘I wasn’t even listening.’ she laughed.
When she was done with my nose, she moved to my lips, which weren’t wounded at all, she just wanted to kiss them. Wine and vodka are bad together but Dot and I were perfect.
She led me to her room where we talked for hours until the party had completely quieted down and until Jo had to be carried to his bed, he might have been comatose and we couldn’t care less, we were drinking and just spitting out truths about ourselves. We blamed the embarrassing testimonies on alcohol but later we discovered we got drunk of our love for each other.
We watched a movie, I don’t even remember which one it was, but it was funny. What I do remember is when I looked at her in my arms and she was sleeping. I turned off the computer and laid her head gently on the pillow, I was too drunk to get up so I slept next to her, making sure not to touch her.
Headache and thirst were the first words on my mind. Breakfast was also there in the top five. Along with that came a lovely bitterness on my tongue.
I was alone on Dot’s bed when Jo came in, his eyes barely open, and exclaimed with a yawn ‘Dot t’as vu mon caleçon?’ I was petrified; if he saw me shirtless and on his sister’s bed he would freak out.
A voice called out from the kitchen, Dot, my savior, always has, always will be; ‘Georges, t’as jeté ta dernière paire de caleçon par la fenêtre hier soir.’ “You threw your last pair out the window last night.”
He turned around and said with the most disappointed voice I have ever heard: “merde.” He then went on ‘Tu pars au boulot?’ (“off to work?) to which she responded with a noise in agreement.
Tu pourras m’en acheter?’ – that same noise again then followed by “Tu sors pas aujourd’hui toi” (“can you buy me some? Are you even leaving the house?”)
Jo didn’t answer so she repeated the same question to which he in turn declared “T’as pas vu comment je suis déchiré?”
Didn’t you see how drunk I was.
Dot didn’t answer.
I don’t belong in France. I immediately made my plans to leave.