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Pilgrimage to the Source

By David FOENKINOS Sofitel Berlin Gendarmenmarkt


The room is like a cocoon. It’s so calm. Silence is the ultimate luxury. It’s been raining outside for several hours. Alice has been in the shower for about as long (she lounges in it, standing up, as if it were a vertical bath). Through the glass, I signal to her, but she doesn’t see me. It’s definitely a room for lovers: We are never really out of sight of each other, the bathroom is a glass-walled enclosure, so the shower of the woman you love becomes a show. If only Alice would look at me a bit, but no, still not even a glance. I decide that from now on we shouldn’t leave the room: It’s ridiculous to visit a city, however beautiful, when you’re in a beautiful room with a beautiful woman. Alice is my Brandenburg
Gate. Alice is my Checkpoint Charlie. Alice is my Reichstag. Alice is my Victory Column. I’m listing the sights of the city that I don’t want to visit, all the while scooping up her underwear that’s been strewn on the floor, as has mine: Although it might appear to be the aftermath of a wild sex scene, in fact it’s just that we’re messy.
I pick up one of her panties and start sniffing it like a mad man, like a maniac, like an idiot, like a man in love. Now it’s her turn to look at me through the glass without me noticing. Quietly, as if her body had become soap, she slips out of the bathroom and is then standing before me.
Startled, I look up without knowing whether I should feel ashamed or heroic. Until Alice makes it clear.
“You’re a psychopath.”
“You heard me. You’re a psychopath.”
“Because I smell your panties?”
“Not only that. Also because of the way you spy on me when I’m taking a shower.”
“I thought you didn’t see me.”
“I was pretending. Do you know any woman who doesn’t know when she’s being looked at?’’
“And I can tell that you’re watching me at night, too.”
“I want to get the most out of being with you. I want to save up images for the rest of the year. I’m getting my fill of you.”
“How elegant.”
“Alice, I’m fed up.”
“With what?”

“Why don’t you leave your husband?”
“I love him.”
“No, you don’t love him.”
“Yes, I do love him. And with you, I have my vacation from love.”
“There is no such thing as a vacation from love. If you love someone, you don’t take a vacation. You don’t love him. You can’t love a dentist. No one can love a dentist. And anyway, people become dentists because no one loves them.”
“Nonsense. Dentistry is a beautiful profession. It’s clear that you’ve never had a tooth orgasm.”
“A what?”
“Forget it.”
“O.K., you’re right, I’ll forget it. I’m going to pack my bag and leave. You can stay here alone on your vacation from love.”

She remained silent, and I started to pack my things, but in a way that was far too exaggerated to be real. After awhile, she interrupted me:
“Cut the drama and let’s go have dinner.”
“O.K. my love,’’ I said, like a child whose punishment had just been removed.


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