Affairs of Art

Affairs of Art by Lise Bissonnette

Book: Affairs of Art by Lise Bissonnette Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lise Bissonnette
who loathed him even as they hovered over him, and who lost him again and again. They were called Vitalie. And suddenly you were more Vitalie than they were, you took me as if you were famished, then you threw me out of bed, there was snow to look at, and a scarf to buy for the consumptive you suspected I would become, and melting butter to spread on toasted bread. We went out side by side at eight o’clock, I noticed the hammock that you hadn’t put away in the fall, a snowdrift hanging from a bare maple, I lay down in it for a laugh. You caressed me through layers of wool, I came hot and cold, I named you Vitalie howling very softly, I baptized you in the palm of your gloved hand.
    We were lost without knowing it. We laughed, do you remember, when we were both mistaken.
    From that day I pretended to believe in Abyssinia and you pretended to be preparing to go there. We would not be a little couple who went to the movies, the market, the museum, who picnicked on the mountain. There was your house for loving, such a strange choice, in an inner suburb where the very streetlamps cast their light in another language. We were fifteen kilometres from Mentana Street, in a diffident Great Britain, signed with Canadian flags on a few balconies, imprisoned inside brick cottages the boldest of which tolerated some ivy in the spring. You had chosen the house from a cat­alogue, not knowing the neighbours, you were only passing through and you wanted to climb stairs to go to sleep. I guessed your obsessive fear of overly bright bungalows, I laughed at it.
    It was you, so you said, who had chosen to be my mistress rather than my wife. To make your house an elsewhere unknown to all my friends, the university, the magazine, art. Leaving me Rockland Avenue, my piano, my blue cat whom you would not meet. To agree that at some point life would separate us, that we were certainly in no hurry, but it would happen. And then you would go to Abyssinia.
    I know perfectly well that you were lying very gently. That it was as certain, as clear as this March day, that I could love you until you were old and gaunt, and still magnificent in your high turtlenecks. That you would not survive for three weeks in Abyssinia, speaking French to the hyenas and English to the warriors. But you love me, Vitalie. And you allowed me to choose deceit: to change nothing about the texts, the symposia, the boys I no longer had sex with but made a show of accompanying here and there. I didn’t even take down the seven of hearts. And I was even able to run into you without greeting you at a concert of ancient music one night, I was with Jean-Pierre who thought he was still in favour, I was teaching him about the prophetic for­malism of the harpsichord, I hadn’t known that you too liked unaccompanied strings — you who used to caress me to the velvet of Pachelbel. One morning I thought I saw your icy Toyota on my street, moving as slowly as jealousy. If it was you, Vitalie, I was alone.
    I never meant to hurt you but I am evil, and that is killing me now. We played at being the heroes of fash­ionably grey novels, free lovers, the only things lacking were the alcohol, the cigarettes, and the weary tirades taken from Robbe-Grillet. I would have taken you to Laval, to a fourth-floor flat, to mak e a ball of rosy pink and rose in a big square bed that w ould have been our only chance. But we lost one another between two houses filled with the sounds of art and of a journey to Abyssinia, both of them so beautiful and so false.
    All the same, one summer evening I thought of making a child with you. You know, to make it with the greatest care. It was your turn to lie in the hammock, it had become our place, I was caressing your pubis while recalling the baptism of Vitalie and I said that I felt her under my palm, that she would grow very tall very quickly and that we would make her into a dancer. You maintained that it would be a boy and that he’d

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