Thursday, 17 December 2009

The day I saw the truth

I parked my car in the village and took the path along the stream. It was not difficult to find the house. Just as they had told me, it was a ten minute's walk. I stood still in front of the door and looked around. The sunshine on the grass was bringing out a dozen shades of green, the air was chill, and I was too tired.

During my drive from Marseilles to Brig, I had remained oblivious to the Swiss landscape. My mind had been too busy rehearsing what I was going to tell Elise, the precise words, the exact intonation.

How long had I known Elise, her husband, her parents, and her friends? Ten? Fifteen years? Elise's sudden departure had taken all of them by surprise, but not me. I had been sort of awaiting it. I had long sensed her hunger, her wish for change.

Elise opened the door before I had gathered the courage to knock. In the Swiss mountains, her smile had grown warmer, wider. She listened to me patiently, like a friend who knows you too well. I gave her twenty reasons to return home, to her husband, to her former life.

We drank coffee, as Elise told me about her new life. She told me about the shop she had started in Brig and about her expansion projects. She had also met someone, she added, but it was still too soon to say.

I finished my coffee in silence. I knew that further arguments would be no use, but I was unsure about the reasons for my defeat. She kissed me softly and waved me goodbye from the doorway.

Why had she left? For what had she exchanged her former life? The answer dawned on me as I was half-way to the village. I turned around, stood still, and listened. I heard a bird's cry above. Elise's reason was not the mountains, I realized. It was the freedom.


[Image by David under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under]