Juste une fable n° 4
and there in the desert, in the wings, as always, two who were waiting were tina and ellen. they had organized an extraordinary therapy session where they each had partners, when in fact they don't.
tina was preoccupied with solving everyone's problems and with trying to sell her house, which now had been stripped of every conceivable carpet. there were no soft surfaces, just tiles, stripped bare, and appliances, things that could not be removed. ellen was, on the contrary, preoccupied with ellen only, trying to be o.k. and somehow find the money to achieve equal status with tina and myself (who had amassed considerable wealth and power, though perhaps in opposite ways).
i was completely behind tina, who said we had to support ellen so that she (like we two) could enjoy her middle and late years with a decent façade, with reasonable-looking teeth. who could begrudge this to a sister? and things were working out, as they always tend to do.
a friend who lived in mexico had accepted a job in brazil, and he was going to give his place to ellen over the next few months. this meant the amount of money she would normally need to live on could go to fixing her teeth. so tina and i were happy, and we began to talk together about taxes, which, as women of the world, we would.
but tina, i suddenly noticed, was also in the middle of digging between two piles of coal, for what reason i cannot imagine. i chose that moment to call out to her and say, tina, you love to be vindicated, don't you? she said, yeah, i do.
so i started to tell her that our tax debacle was coming to an end, and finally we were learning: you have to write it off.
but my time with ellen was much more intimate and difficult, because she really was trying just to be all right. she was teetering between two radically different states.
at certain points, she seemed to be dissolving into a fat ugly dummy, a bald squishy mess that was turning into an android.
but then i balanced her and said no. no, ellen, you're a beautiful woman. look in the mirror and see how beautiful you are. then fire flashed in her eyes and she regained a comely face, many faces in fact that could vie with those of the finest stars. she also took hold again of her pencil, and of her long thin body, which she'd lost and found so many times before.
and there was one more image that had something to do with writing. it was me, on the bottom of one of the papers i was grading, writing: this is it - the last refuge.
Mary Shaw est professeure de littérature française des dix-neuvième et vingtième siècles à l'Université de Rutgers (New Jersey). Outre ses travaux universitaires, elle a publié deux livres pour enfants ainsi qu'un recueil de poésie intitulé Album Without Pictures (2008).