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What is expected of beauty

By David FOENKINOS Sofitel Frankfurt Opera

Eva was born on a night so bright that one could have thought it to be midday. This radiance was due to the inordinate amount of stars, as if they had gathered that evening to protest against the cosmos. Eva’s parents could never forget that unprecedented luminosity. They had just given birth to a little girl and the entire world seemed to to be in tune with their harmonious happiness. In away, the night had spawned a star.

But the beauty of that magical event had a consequence: Eve developed a particular relationship with night. She wanted to live nocturnally, persuaded that life was more intense when the other humans were sleeping. Hardly two years old; she already had the rhythm of a feverish party animal. She fought for hours, often sinking into sleep in the early morning. Whoever came to the family abode witnessed fits of tears as soon as the day began fading. The little girl was taken to doctors, psychologists, hypnotists, anyone who had an opinion; but to no avail. She did not want to sleep at night. It was her nature, and it is quite difficult to fight against what we are. No one had made the link between the astral conditions at her birth and this nocturnal obsession.

As a teenager, she went to school, exhausted, with dark circles under her eyes. She was considered goth whereas it was a sweet twilight that ran through her veins. On the positive side, she read and worked during her sleepless nights. She was a strange paradox: first in her class but always seemed asleep during the classes. So, Eva never ceased having a life in a time lag and she remained a mystery in the eyes of others. Her particular personality aroused mad passion in the teen-aged high school boys, but this did not interest her. She wasn’t born a night of intense stellar activity to make sentimental commitments to the first guy who came along. She was waiting for a prince. Contrarily to Sleeping Beauty, she was looking for a man capable of putting her to sleep; she was the Wide-Awake Beauty. Until then, she preferred concentrating on her studies. She obtained her high school diploma with high honors but refused to enter preparatory classes for the highly ranked schools. She was of legal age and intended to lead her life as she chose. Which is to say sleeping all day long. She suffered from this situation, but could not do otherwise. She enrolled in a university as a psychology major, opting for correspondence courses. A paradox as she lived just next door. Living by night is like living on the other side of the earth.

She sometimes went out evenings. Those who didn’t know her past could think her to be frivolous and hysterical partying. Who could have known that she was a victim of her birth night? That starry night was simultaneously her splendor and her curse. Forbidden sleep, she danced the night away. But it always comes, a moment when one feels alone in the crowd. In the middle of the discotheque, Eva sometimes had the impression of being like a semi-colon in an eight-hundred-page novel. She was wrong: Adam saw only her. It was the DJ who played his records without even looking at his turntable, as his eyes were riveted on Eva. He felt he knew her already, as if love at first sight was not a discovery but a reunion with someone who already existed in us. That particular morning, at the end of his set, he went to speak to her. A few hours later, they embraced. A few weeks later, they moved in together. There are stories so obvious that they don’t need many words to tell them. To embellish a little more this coming together, they were told that they were the birth of humanity: Adam and Eva. Their romance seemed predestined or else there was an author behind all this.

Adam played Eva’s favorite tracks, put on songs intended for her, in forms of messages. At the risk of breaking the general rhythm, he loved flooding the dance floor with the long version of the Beatles’ “I Want You”. One evening, without notice, he played “Be My Wife” by David Bowie. Eva listened to the lyrics:

Please be mine

Share my life

Stay with me

Be my wife

She stopped dancing at once. She was the only one able to understand that the man putting on the music had created a silence in her heart, in asking her to marry him. Adam was to perform in a major Frankfort night club a few days later. He proposed to his future wife to join him. They could spend three days in a beautiful hotel, sheltered from the agitated nights. They loved each other and preferred not to visit the city. Their room would be their favourite museum. The motto of their love “do not disturb”. They did go out one evening, nevertheless, for dinner at an Italian restaurant, La Divina. It was a simple place, decorated with photos of Italian actors. Between “The Godfather” and “Palombella Rossa” (“Red Lob”) diners took a tour amongst the classic lines. Just before the dessert, Adam took a little package from his pocket. Eva opened it, her heart racing. It was a magnificent necklace with a double pendant which symbolized their two beings from now on linked to the same chain. It was an object of almost magical beauty. Eva remained hypnotized by the contemplation of the present. Adam was waiting for a reaction but his future wife could not speak. The intensity of her wonder prevented words from exiting her body. She felt like she was swimming in the warm colours of the two stones; one green, the other red. Colours so intense they seemed alive. One would have said a heart was beating inside. Eva ended up stammering that she was at the height of all imaginable happiness. But then the least expected event occurred. She began to feel tired. Was it due to this excess of emotion? It was barely eleven pm., this had never happened to her. Adam was worried:

“Are you okay?”

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