How's the Pain?

How's the Pain? by Pascal Garnier

Book: How's the Pain? by Pascal Garnier Read Free Book Online
Authors: Pascal Garnier
unfinished watercolour, an island emerging from the mist.
    ‘Make love to me.’
    ‘What here? Now?’
    Not easy, no, it was not easy at all, but when Violette’s right hand managed to grab her left big toe, she was over the moon. She had finally caught the stupid thing and now she was going to stuff it in her mouth. That was it: she was a big girl now.

    ‘We need to get you to hospital, Anaïs. Believe me, I know what I’m talking about. This is a matter of life or death.’
    ‘Who the hell do you think you are? Already dead, are you? Know all about it, huh? No? Well then, shut your trap.’
    She did not actually say this to the doctor since her jaws refused to come unstuck, but by God she had thought it. A needle had just pricked her arm, spreading its welcome venom through her body. Fanny and the doctor were talking in hushed tones in the corner. From time to time, Fanny lifted her arms and let them drop again in a symbol of helplessness, like a fledgling bird afraid to fly the nest. Georges stood with his hands clasped behind his back, in conversation with the Negress lamp. Why couldn’t they all just go away and leave her alone? … Things were going just as well for Anaïs as for the rest of them, better even, since she did not intend to carry on any longer. She just had to wait for them to get fed up and piss off. She wasused to waiting, she had been doing it all her life – hanging around for buses, love, success, a phone call … Strangely, the less time she had left, the less the waiting bothered her.
    The doctor was the first to leave the scene, carrying his little bag filled with needles, rubber tubes, pills and bottles. Then it was the turn of Georges, whose lumbering uselessness was beginning to get on his wife’s nerves. He did not wait to be told twice. Death, like birth, was not a sight he was madly keen to see. He was happy enough to stick where he was, somewhere between the two. Fanny, on the other hand, settled into the armchair next to the sofa where Anaïs lay, determined to watch over her, offering her puny body as a shield against all harm. It was a laudable stance, but within quarter of an hour she was snoring, her chin resting on her bony chest. Anaïs coughed and shifted until she was sure her neighbour’s nasal symphony was in full swing, before sitting herself up. It was a struggle, but she made it. Her head was spinning, but what did it matter? She had got her sea legs years ago. The pains running from shoulder to hip did not bother her any more. She had adopted them and tamed them, like mangy stray cats. Having reached the edge of the sofa, she attempted to stand, only to discover this was a risky enterprise. Crawling on all fours, she moved towards the kitchen. It was a tricky business, but more stable than relying on her hind legs. Besides, this was how everyone took their first steps and learnt to be independent. She just had to throw herself back in time, to the days of discovering the world from the ground up. Right arm … Left knee … Left arm … Right knee.
    Once again, the parallel world of miniature creatures shyly gathered to spur her on. She knew she could trust the little monsters, because they were cute. They bent over backwards to help her push open the kitchen door. The floor was icy cold, each tile a territory to be conquered. With the effort of crossing it, she blew powerful gusts from her nose and mouth which scattered the flocks of grey fluff and whipped up crumbs, like an elephant stomping through the undergrowth. Anaïs came to a halt in front of the cupboard under the sink, where normal people keep their cleaning products and alcoholics keep their bottles. The last bottle of Negrita was definitely in there somewhere, but where …?
    It was pitch black inside the cupboard. Anaïs groped about blindly, picking out various plastic and glass containers by touch. But danger was lurking in the absurd habit she had picked up from her mother – a

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