Artwork by Enrique Cropper
The next day George stepped out of the lift, as usual, and ambled down the corridor towards his office. The ‘Please keep this door closed at all times’ sign on the door of Archive 9D greeted his eyes. George couldn’t resist peeping in through the reinforced glass window. The fluorescent lamp in his corner was still lit.
“Strange”, thought George, “have all the others blown?”
He opened the door and flicked the light switch. No response.
“So now it’s not the just the functionaries of the ERA who no longer follow instructions, some of the lights don’t work either!” he mocked gently to himself.
George stepped out and entered his office. As he reached to turn on his computer he flinched at the sight of his office plant. Overnight, all its leaves had withered brown and were now lying dead on the office carpet.
“What next?” cried George, expressing growing frustration at the various dysfunctions of the last 24 hours. “I only gave it some water yesterday.”
Artwork by Enrique Cropper
Why sit there thinking of the past
Recounting empty days, gone past, hé hé hé (Becaud)
“Another grey day in Brussels. Yes, a typical Belgian summer, eh” chuntered one nameless colleague to another, as the lift made its way to the 9th floor.
The doors opened with a light ‘ching’. A quick ‘Bonne journée‘ was exchanged and each set off to their respective offices.
George had grown so accustomed to hearing such comments that he had only been able to contribute to the conversation with a polite smile. After all, the Belgian weather had never held him back in his 32-year career (33 in September, to be precise) in the European Regulatory Authority. Quite the contrary.
- Never too hot to interfere with his short walk to and from the lovely station of La Hulpe to catch his daily train.
- Never too cold to freeze up the transport network entirely and cause him, pointlessly, to miss a day in the office.
- Just the right climatic zone for ascending the European civil service and, as his superior put it in his first career assessment exercise, ‘fulfilling his evident potential’ in his preferred area of expertise in financial regulatory policy.
George made his way along the corridor to his office, passing the humming fuse box and the charmless ‘Archive 9D’ he referred to as ‘my immediate neighbour‘ just next door to his office, switched on his computer and logged in, as was his daily habit and obligation. Arrival time: 8.15 a.m.
Depuis quelques temps, j’ai des disputes avec ma main droite.
Elle m’a accusé de la tromper avec ma main gauche. Elle l’a toujours vue comme une rivale. J’entends encore ses récriminations : « Mais qu’a-t-elle de plus que moi ? Est-elle plus belle, plus mince, plus grande que moi ? Plus jeune ? » J’avais beau dire, elle n’écouta aucun argument. Allez raisonner une main droite ! Continue reading
KIM AND CACTUSES
Kim came out of the house the moment the great orange disc of the sun disappeared beyond the horizon. The neighbourhood of Ixelles was silent; the whole town of Brussels grew silent in the past decades, during which she turned from a young girl to a young woman. Now, she walked out with a sharp knife and a big 5 litter glass jar. Continue reading
Vers la fin de la matinée, le téléphone d’Alice s’est mis à sonner. Elle était en pleine réunion de travail à l’hôpital où elle travaillait comme psychologue. Voyant que c’était son mari, elle a répondu sans hésiter une seconde.
‒ Je suis aux urgences. On va m’opérer.
Simon paraissait étonnamment calme vu le drame qui lui arrivait.
‒ J’arrive tout de suite ! s’est exclamée Alice, effrayée. Dans sa panique, elle est sortie de la salle de réunion sans un mot d’explication et s’est précipitée aux urgences. Continue reading