The End of a blue dreamBy Jean-Marie ROUART Le Médina Essaouira Hotel Thalassa Sea & Spa
Sometimes the mind gets into such a fever of excitement as to drive you to all kinds of insanities. Getting married, for example. If such a thing as soul chemists existed, they could reveal to us the formula of this sudden ebullience, which particles enter into its composition, which atomic theory it obeys. Whatever the case may be, Eve was caught up in the throes of that feeling which is commonly called, for lack of a better word, love, and which suddenly makes you feel like you have reached the apex of yourself. Hence the temptation to jump into the void. Eve had already had a life. That is, she had idolized her father, a quirky orchestra conductor who sometimes treated her with the most passionate affection, and, at other times, had nothing to offer her but a cold indifference that was all the more enigmatic as it was utterly unmotivated. She had gotten used to it, or so she thought, even if, deep down, she remained puzzled by this mysterious volatility of feelings. And so she looked for men who, contrary to her father, reassured her by their seemingly stable sentimental dispositions. Now, such men are hard to find. Women, indeed, quickly realize that men who are neither promiscuous nor fickle-hearted are usually men inhabited by quite tepid feelings, if any at all, and whose hearts are agitated by nothing but wind, a gentle, conventional breeze that mostly stems from their anxiety to be alone. They are wont to pick up women out of mere gregariousness, and what they call love is but the instinctual feeling of a satisfied proprietor. Thus was the irritating question of sex once for all settled by the stew of marriage, and thus was the fire that causes so much havoc and damage between men and women contained—permanently, if possible.
Eve, after having experienced much hope and as much disillusion, had finally found the man who corresponded to everything she wished for. He was a handsome, spontaneous, congenial, and athletic 35-year old fellow who seemed to be in perfect control of his life. He always remained calm and self-possessed in front of the hardships of existence, and was in all respects what is called a well-balanced man. There were no dark spots in his lineage—no madmen in his family, no divorcees, not even a single artist. He had founded and ran an investment funds, and he was a refined collector of contemporary art and design. He was actually prouder—a weakness that made him all the more human—of his collection, that he hoped one day to see exhibited at the Centre Pompidou, than he was of all the money he made. And he made a lot. Eve and Roger had met at an art auction sales in Paris. She knew this shrewd connoisseur by reputation, and she had complimented him on his choices. A slight movement of satisfaction had briefly bloomed on his cheeks, and he had immediately fallen for her. Which goes to show what a simple man he was, how uncomplicated his sentimental clockwork, and how positive his mood. That very night, they had had dinner on the terrace of “Les Tables de la Fontaine,” a restaurant in the 7th arrondissement, and Eve had had a hunch, during this dinner, inspired as she was by that infamous feminine instinct that will turn out to be wrong more often than not, that she had at long last found that rare bird: a real man, embracing life with a virile and familiar confidence, and looking for a wife that he would love forever rather than living in the delusions of trouble and dream, like all those inconsequential boys she had met so far.
Three days later, they spent the night together in Roger’s huge, minimally decorated apartment, on the Avenue Saint-Martin, in the middle of those art installations he liked so much. One of them majestically stood in the vast open bedroom that led to the bathroom and the restroom. This installation, created by a young Swiss designer, was made of tubular bells that, when activated by water, put a piston in motion, which in turn set off a strange beeping sound accompanied by a red light. The whole thing looked like some kind of juke-box. Of course, Eve had the surprise, right in the middle of their lovemaking, to hear this artistic contraption suddenly start. The circumstances did not really favor cool and rational judgments; Eve, who desperately wanted to fall in love and, for this very reason, actually already had, interpreted that artistic manifestation as one more quality to add to the credit of her lover: fantasy. She started to fancy herself—this was happening in September—as a June bride. She thought about the dress she would order and wondered about the maids of honor she would choose. She had second thoughts about Edwige, an old classmate from Merimount, whom she liked very much but who, she had been told, had said unpleasant things about her.
When an affair starts under such auspicious scenes, it demands a setting as grand as the promises it bears. A trip. Isn’t that the way one fulfills each other’s dreams? Roger, always the gentleman, asked her where she wanted to go. She did not hesitate for one second: Mogador. He nodded; he was actually enthusiastic, which was a good sign. To Mogador, then. Mogador was the place to Eve had always dreamt of going to with the man of her life. And so, one month later, there they were, in the blue city surrounded by fortifications and whipped by the waves of the ocean that was pummeled by the powerful, refreshing trade wind.
It cast a despotic hold on the city, ceaselessly making a show of its possessive and ear-splitting presence. When it simmered down, the city was overwhelmed by a potent stench of fish and bittern; it smelled like the very innards of the ocean, its darkest and wildest depths. Sometimes, the wind would change course; then came from the south the sweet scents of jasmine.
The lovers were greeted by a slight vexation when they arrived at the hotel. The yen had plummeted at the Tokyo stock exchange, causing the pound sterling to reach its warning level and casting dark shadows over the dow jones. At least that was what Eve understood from the explanations given to her by Roger in his financial mumbo-jumbo. The consequence of it all was that he was called by duty. He would have to spend some time typing away on the hotel’s computer keyboard and listening to the hysterical messages left by his clients on his voicemail. Both excited to have to live through a financial storm and upset by his ruined tourism projects, he gave her the three guidebooks he had taken with him and told her they would meet for dinner. Eve had the whole day to herself. She was free. She walked through the blue city, daydreaming and determined to find carpets to buy. When she came back to the hotel at the end of the day, it was dark outside; one of those peculiar African dark nights, more
obscure and dense than our clear European nights. She met Roger in his room. The stock exchanges had closed; the storm had cooled down. He was surprised to see her coming back so late and empty-armed. She hadn’t bought anything. Roger looked at her suspiciously: he claimed to know women quite well, and for him, a woman who didn’t go crazy shopping and didn’t come back from a walk carrying tons of bags was some kind of freak. He curtly demanded an explanation. Eve barely heard him, as if he spoke through some fog. She was absent. He
repeated his question in a more pressing tone.
“Oh, nothing interesting,” she said.
And she entrenched herself into silence, which upset her companion. After trying one more time—he would even have accepted a plausible lie by way of an explanation—, his manly pride severely wounded, he stormed out of the room. Eve remained lost in her thoughts, standing by the big night-dark window. A few lights were dancing on the waterfront. The masts of the boats clicked and tinkled away. Although her moody companion had left her high and dry, Eve did not feel alone: she had a secret.
They met for dinner in a local restaurant by the pier. The lugubrious lamb tagine between their two plates did nothing to dispel the gloomy atmosphere. Roger was icily polite. Eve was elsewhere; only her body moved, in a mechanical way. She did her best to be as docile as possible, so as to pacify her companion’s grumpiness. They strolled along the waterfront in
silence, then walked back to the hotel. In the room, Roger tried once more to learn about Eve’s day, with a syrupy voice that he imagined to be the paragon of diplomacy:
“Come now, won’t you tell me what you did?”
Eve answered by a tense smile and ran to the bathroom to avoid any further conversation.
When she came back and joined him in the king-size bed, she knew, not without resignation, what the rest of the night would be made of. And she was right, of course. Roger wasn’t going to give up the sexual retribution he had expected from this whole trip to Mogador. And so, they had sex. Or rather, he raped her in the most banal and common way, as probably happens in a hundred thousand bedrooms around the world where husbands and lovers grant themselves the right to sleep with a woman whenever they please, without bothering to ask for permission. While he was bustling about on top of her, Eve thought about that installation by the Swiss artist in his Parisian apartment; that strange gurgling sound in the pipes, the red light that went on and off, and the bell that kept ringing.