• August 10, 2020

My favourite writings

This is one of my favourite segments from Paris Je T’aime:

He watched his wife cross the street, in the red trench coat she always swore she’d throw out but always retrieved from her closet year after year. She was like that about everything. It was the trait that attracted him when they first met. The clothes she wore again and again, the rows of untouched lipsticks, the song… that she sang while cooking dumplings, belonged to a life that felt alien now, a life he was planning to quit between entrée and dessert. It struck him how oddly logical it was to choose this place to leave her, this very place where he first relished he no longer loved her. When she smiled, he nearly shouted, “I’m leaving you so don’t smile!” But he merely gave her a sip of his Kir. Another thing that irked him was that she never ordered an appetizer or dessert but always ate most of his. Worse still, he always ordered foods she liked. “Do I ever like profiteroles?” he pondered. When she started weeping like he’d never seen before, at first he thought she knew he was leaving her for Marie-Christine, the hot-blooded air stewardess he’d loved for the past 18 months. “This is it,” he thought. “She knows. She’d known for ages. I should have guessed.”

Still weeping, she brought out some papers and gave them to him. In coldly clinical terms, they said she had terminal leukemia. In a flash, his first purpose flew from his mind and a strange, metallic voice began telling him “You have to rise to this occasion!” And he did.

He ordered three servings of profiteroles to go, and text-messaged his mistress, “Oublie moi…” He tended to his wife in every way she’d ever wanted, hanging pictures around the house, taking her to see her favorite movies in the daytime, bargain-hunting with her although he hated shopping, reading Murakami’s Sputnik Sweetheart to her… Every little thing had a different flavor, knowing he’d never be able to do it for her again.

By acting like a man in love, he became a man in love again.

When she died in his arms, he fell into an emotional coma and never recovered. Even now, many years later, his heart always lurches at the sight of a woman in a red trench coat.

— Bastille. Isabel Coixet.