THE WINGS OF THE ANGEL
DE BERNARD GROUSSET
– You know why my name is Genevieve?
Jean pretended not to have heard anything, concentrated on his reading. She repeated her question.
– You listen to me ?
– Of course I listen!
« Then answer me. »
Good! In these cases, he knew very well that it was no longer worth trying to read. He resigned himself and put down his book.
– No ? He sighed.
Spread out in the chair, his feet resting on the arm-rest of the next door, he watched passing life and time on this Sunday afternoon in June. His book, a book repeated several times, landed on the carpet with a dull sound, accompanied by the echo of the sigh.
The weather was heavy, stormy, and could easily incite laziness. John often allowed himself to be convinced without any problem of conscience. He knew he should have been more dynamic, more present, but the prospect of the week that was to begin the next day was already pumping all his energy. And then, why go out and pick up what we had at home: comfortable seating, readings, drinks, TV. And even the sun on the balcony to aerate. So ? To meet an anonymous and uninteresting crowd? No thanks !
Genevieve would have preferred to go out, to see people, or simply to take a walk in the country roads, or on the banks of the Rhone, but above all not to remain vegetated, to wait for nothing to happen. She reminded him frequently. He admitted the accuracy of his wife’s point of view. He felt confusedly a vague guilt, which he instantly dismissed.
He pointed at one ear to try to look interested. Genevieve, her eyes in the vague, related.
– Before I was born, Dad had to spend some time in the hospital, and a nurse was very nice, it seems. My parents did not have much money at the time, and she helped them, provided them with clothes for their children. They decided that if they had another daughter, they would call her Genevieve. Did I ever tell you that?
– Oh no ! Not more than a dozen times. Fortunately the nurse was not called Aglae, or Zenobia, or something of the same style! And do you have any idea why my name is Jean?
– No ! She answered suddenly captivated, hoping for new revelations.
– Neither do I ! I suppose my parents liked that name, that’s all! Or they may not have found it better at the moment.
« You must always make fun of yourself; Come to look after me, I’m bored.
– What do you want us to do? We could walk the dog, but we do not have a dog. Can we play something if you want to? Chess, scrabble, or …
She came up against him, clasping her arms around her knees. She got pussy, and minauded with reproach.
– I’m sick of staying stuck here most of the weekend. And then we always do the same thing. I want to live, to have fun, to meet interesting people, to change the air.
For him life was simple: marriage, children, work, everyday life, rest and tranquility, reading and television. A little sex to spice up all that, and the gentleman considered himself reasonably happy. He was, unconsciously, in the process of weaving around him an almost cozy cocoon, from which he gradually evacuated everything that caused him to spend energy. In a bear or a marmot, it would have been called pre-hibernation. Yet he was only thirty-five.
It was not properly selfishness, but it looked strangely like it. He was not particularly sociable, and especially did not feel the need of people’s company. He could spend several days without talking to anyone. Without being a savage, he was rarely bored when he was alone. It was also true that he was not a madman of work. As a consulting engineer, he had enough clients to earn a reasonable living, and thus satisfy his modest professional ambition.
Traveling much during the week, he enjoyed dragging and wasting his time on Saturday and Sunday. He had gradually abandoned all that he had been before his marriage, his friends, his sports activities. He had played for years in rugby during his studies. He also took care of a neighborhood recreation club.
But since his marriage, everything that made his life as a bachelor had moved away and melted into the mists on the other side of the city. Everything had been done insidiously, and one day he had seen the fait accompli: he had cut himself off from all his previous relationships and activities, and felt that he would not have the energy or Especially the moral strength to reconnect after that time.
Although he knew that it was partly false, he pretended and was