The burial took place in Paris under a beautiful sun, with a curious crowd. So much black. My dad and me held hands with Anne’s old folks. I watched them with curiosity – they would probably come to have tea with us once a year. They looked sadly at my dad – Webb must have told them about the proposal. When I came to the exit, I saw Salil trying to find me. I avoided him. I felt bitterness toward him and it was completely uncalled for… I can’t justify it. The people around us hated how pointless the accident had been. And because I still wasn’t sure whether it was accidental, that made me feel a bit better.
In the car on the way back my dad took my hand and held it in his. I thought to myself – I’m all you have left, and you’re all I have left. We’re both alone and unhappy. And for the first time, I began to cry. They were pleasing tears, not like the void I’d felt at the hospital in front of that print of Venice. Dad wordlessly handed me a tissue, his face broken.
For a month we lived like a widower and an orphan, eating together, having breakfast together, not leaving the apartment. We spoke a bit about Anne sometimes – ‘Do you remember that time she…” We spoke with caution, eyes averted, afraid to cause ourselves pain, afraid that something would come undone in one of us and we’d say things we couldn’t forgive. The care, the pains we took were worth it – we could sometimes talk about Anne in a normal tone, as if she was a person we cared about and would have been happy with, but who God had taken back. I write God but I might have written fate, or whatever, because we didn’t believe in God. It made little difference in that situation whether we did or not.
Then one day, at a friend’s house, I met one of his cousins who I liked, and who liked me back. I went out with him a lot for about a week, with the intensity at the start of love, and my dad did the same with a young and ambitious woman. Life carried on as before, like it was always going to. When we met up, me and my dad, we would have a laugh, talking about our conquests. He knew that I was with Philippe, and I knew that his new girlfriend was costing him a lot. But we were happy. Winter touched its end, and then we rented another villa, near Juan-les-Pins.
Only when I’m in my bed, at dawn, with only the sound of a car driving along the road, and the sea beyond, my memory sometimes betrays me. Last summer comes back with all the memories. Anne. Anne… I whisper her name quietly, for hours in the dark. Something builds in me which I welcome by its name, with my eyes closed – hello, sadness.