Natura naturans (1/3) – Shattered into pieces

Lightning purple ball copy

Artwork by Enrique Cropper

The fifth week of COVID confinement had just begun and Belgium was in lockdown. It was a fine April evening and George sat looking out from the terrace, towards his favourite part of the garden, where the budding oak tree rose amongst the yellows and the pinks of the newly flowering shrub border. Fatigued by another full day of télé-travail, he clutched his half-full glass of Margaux and took in the evening call of the song thrush, whose rich tones and accents were filling the deep, blue, domed sky that enveloped them both. “Yes,” sighed George, nodding to himself and lifting his glass to take another slow quaff. The fine wine reminded him of an occasion, now many years ago. “That impudent young biologist,” he whispered to himself, and the memory of the conversation all came flowing back into his mind.

**

That week had been particularly busy for George, doing what satisfied him most: “Another timely regulatory intervention” he was telling himself, as he sat back in the bar round the corner from the office that Friday evening at the invitation of his new boss Guy Lecomte. Lecomte was only a few years older than George, but one who had risen quickly after his “posting in Cabinet” in the European Regulatory Authority. Lecomte, noted George, liked to use more combative language to describe the week’s actions. Even Friday night drinks had started to feel more like a military operations debrief. “We are really just the Fire Service, les pompiers vous savez, of the ERA” George could overhear Lecomte saying to an impressionable young functionary, new to the department. “Another flambée des marches financiers, another quick dowse from the regulatory hose and, hey presto, problem put out, job done, we can hang up our extinguishers and go home.”

By the time his train had reached La Hulpe station, George, somewhat weary after his hectic week, had managed to put Lecomte’s boorish words behind him. “Not so much the fire, as the medical service of the ERA” George had mused, reflecting on the feverish way in which his Director General had barked down the phone just three days before: “George, for God’s sake, can’t you find a remedy to this little problem, before it spreads any further?” Little had George known, as he set off from the station up the hill to his house nestled in the La Hulpe woods, what was awaiting him at dinner that night.

George always had to be careful not to spend too long cooling off in the bar on Fridays, especially the evenings when he was entertaining guests. His wife, Patricia, would have already prepared the table and laid out her special range of appetising salads. Next to the barbecue, she would have left the meat, seasoned in that charming, fresh style that was all hers. “Only thing to do now,” George was merrily saying to himself, his journey nearly done, “will be to slip into something more comfortable, and light the briquettes.”

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Posted in Corona stories, Mark, Observing Brussels | Leave a comment

Ute et le confinement

« Je ne sais pas s’il y a un lien entre la pandémie et la libido mais le fait est que depuis le début du confinement, je ne pense plus au sexe », a déclaré Ute à une amie lors d’une de leurs séances interminables sur Zoom.
– Tant mieux, a réagi son amie. De toute façon, ton but n’est pas de céder à tes pulsions les plus basses. À ce que je sache, tu veux fonder une famille. Continue reading

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Del futuro

Photo by Raquel

Después de entrar en el bar, se apoyó en un taburete. Se puso en un lugar que era visible para todos, y a la vez confortable para él, y casual y estratégicamente se había situado al lado de un caballero con el que había coincidido en la entrada del antro. Se llamaba Guy. Lo había visto después de observar cómo, misteriosamente, se alejaba aquella joven dama rubia con el cabello rizado. Dama que calculó tendría unos 35 años de edad, y le llamó la atención su semblante contrariado.

Guy, empezó con buen ánimo la conversación.
—¿Ha visto usted, señor? No hay gran cosa aquí. No hay muchas mujeres apetecibles a la vista. La cuestión es esa: ya no hay mujeres como las de antes. Como con las que podías ligar en un pasado —dijo Guy mirando directamente a los ojos a su interlocutor.
—¿Como las de antes? ¿Cómo las de un pasado, quiere usted decir? —preguntó él.
—Sí, como las de antes, hombre, ya me entiende. ¿Usted de dónde viene? —dijo Guy con interés por recibir una respuesta banal.
—¿Que de dónde vengo? —Hizo una pausa antes de continuar nuestro protagonista.
—Vengo del futuro, querido amigo —respondió él.

En ese momento, el camarero del clandestino bar interrumpió la conversación. Continue reading

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Nadie sabe lo que puede un cuerpo

Photo by Jonathan Eden-Drummond

Una frente bombé, lisa, infantil o de persona muy joven, apoyándose contra la mía, rodando sobre ella de lado a lado como una caricia. Una frente suave, morena, y una cara que se separa de la mía para que pueda verla. Es un niño negro que no conozco. Un niño cuyos rasgos se desdibujan apenas intento retenerlos o procuro desentrañar su identidad en medio de las imágenes borrosas del sueño. Luego, sobre su frente, se posa una pieza de plástico duro perfectamente moldeada para adaptarse a ella, algo así como una armadura o máscara hecha de Lego. Y enseguida otras piezas que van cubriendo el rostro hasta que ya no lo veo. Es todo lo que queda del sueño cuando después de largos minutos tratando en vano de recuperarlo, decido levantarme. Y entonces reaparece el placentero contacto con la frente. Continue reading

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The Kid

IMG_0877N°476, not far to go now. Diane was walking fast along the avenue de la Couronne, a grey artery running between the neighbourhoods of Ixelles and Etterbeek in Brussels. She was not a city girl. She had a house in the countryside but knew this neighbourhood quite well as she had been commuting to work here almost every day for the last 10 years. She was a doctor in the Hôpital d’Ixelles that was situated just a few streets away from the avenue de la Couronne. She had been here a lot lately; too much these last two months actually. She was so tired. She couldn’t remember the last time she had had a full night of sleep.

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