It was already twilight, and Mercury, as famous as he’s elusive, was already on the scene, among the cirrostratus and updrafts. The light was purplish, and the serene warmth of the May air was lashed by the smoke of an incense stick, whose milky swirls, like Chinese dragons, rose upwards, dancing between the dust and atmosphere. Magdalene, thoughtful, rode them with leaden eyes. Her eyelashes were sparse, her nails on her taut neck, a small slit in her half-open mouth. She sat cross-legged in front of a window without curtains, a stack of photographs on her lap, ‘Feelings’ by Shirley Bassey on the stereo.
Everything was still, stable, unchangeable. Only the incense gave a semblance of movement, slow and phlegmatic, to that relaxed moment.
Magdalene impassively followed the progress of the song, continuing to look outside. The lean gnarled body, wrapped in an ecru silk waistcoat. The smell of cedar wood coming from the floor. The manicured bushes of the house across the street. The ceiling, the photographs, the music playing.
‘Feelings, more feelings, feelings in my arms’.
On the last note, between the harp and violins, she slid her right hand down her shoulder, arched her back, lifted her neck and chin. Then, she squeezed her eyes shut and wiped away a single bitter drop, that quickly ran down her cheeks and broke off like foam between the pink beaches of her chubby lips.
The memories of last autumn still burned strong and pivotal. Antoine had left their home, their refuge, for an important job abroad. They continued to call each other, to whisper ‘I love you’ through the screens of their mobile phones, without enjoying each other’s bodies, caresses and kisses. She missed everything, of course, but the hope of seeing him again meant everything remained as it was. He wasn’t there, but his bedside still smelled of him, as did the drawers, the wardrobe, what was left of the folded linen. The pillows soaked in fig and vetiver, the shots of a summer ago between his legs.
The song was over, and Magdalene got up, blew out the incense with a puff, closed the window and retired to the bedroom.