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Metamorphosis

For two days, I multiplied the round trips to the hut at the bottom of the garden. I walked tirelessly and focused all my attention on my motionless foot and my leg which had to obey. I realized my progress. Of course, I didn’t jog but my steps were surer. I stumbled a little but mostly, I didn’t fall again.

On Sunday morning, the whole family prepared to go to the Mass. Upstairs, the boys were looking for their shirts, pants and their mother answered their questions from the kitchen where she was tidying the breakfast dishes. I was in the downstairs bedroom getting dressed alone. I didn’t want Florence to help me as she had done before. I had to prepare by myself to visit my God I owe my breathe in this beautiful day of the end of May.

When everyone was ready, I told them:

“It’s very sunny. It’ll be a shame not to enjoy the sun. We’re going to go by foot.”

“You DON’T think about it.” Florence replied. “It’s almost five hundred meters from here!”

“I practiced and I’m ready to do it!” I answered smiling.

The four boys got down, their mother followed. I saw they were all anxious because I never walked across the portal since I was back. I wished my first trip outside would be to go to church. It had a symbolical meaning for me. It was like a tribute.

They were all here, in front of the door and didn’t miss one of my moves. The portal could be reached thanks to a twenty-meter, inclined path. Constantin opened it because he liked to be in the middle of the family agitation. I didn’t take the stick and like a skydiver who was ready to jump into the empty space, I adjusted my step with determination. I succeeded in the first stage of the operation which consisted in going out of the house in this part of the garden I didn’t explore yet. Nicolas was conscious of his role of big brother and came next to me – just in case. Florence walked on the other side. We arrived to the doorway, then to the pavement. I walked very slowly, like a great disabled person. I was so terribly embarrassed to have eye-contact with passers-by. I didn’t have to think about it and completely focused, as I made a live solo broadcast on television despite the total panic. If only they knew how difficult it was!

We walked slowly towards the church and everything went well. I dreaded a little the distance – barely five hundred meters but a real marathon for me! We met our neighbors, parishioners, they were happy to see me standing. I was congratulated because I had made so much progress in only one week. I needed several pauses because I started hurting everywhere in my left side. This pain, I offered it to Jesus. Like him, I carried my cross in order to join God. Because I was tired, I was waking more hesitatingly. Florence gave me her arm and held me when I stumbled. Nicolas, Alexandre and Raphael were ready to intervene. I arrived to the church completely exhausted. I couldn’t wait for the fresh shadow and a chair!

Friends from “Saint Martin Choir” kissed and congratulated me. I announced the rehearsals were about to start again soon. Nobody really believed me bit I did know I will keep my word. The vicar – my friend – Dominique Henry came closer and recommended me not to go too fast. My parents arrived. My father was so happy to see me like this. My mother kissed me, her eyes were wet.

During the Mass, I stayed seated in order to limit the tiredness, make me the most discreet I could and pray at the bottom of my heart. At noon, I had planned to invite everyone to the restaurant but I changed my mind. I was so exhausted I couldn’t walk anymore. I was in pain everywhere. A damned migraine burst into my head. Florence asked to my dad to bring me in car. When I was home, Nicolas and Raphael had to support me in order to go to the bedroom. I lay down in my bed, my head was spinning around.

I felt in my sensible side a kind of unbearable heaviness. I was full of cramps. It was as if blades gashed my leg. A sharp pain in my low back dragged me out of a face every time I wanted to move. Breathing hurt me. But I didn’t tell anything to Florence or the boys. I forced to smile telling them everything was right, I was a little tired but it was normal after making an effort. I knew how weak I was, how my heart raced at the least effort. My fight was far away from being over. But I did know very soon I will be ready to give my classes back, go back to my activities and the rehearsals of my choirs.

The table was set in the living room. When I stood up and went to climb the stairs – what I did many times the previous days – I told I couldn’t do it. I had so many troubles to stand up and walk until the first step. I gathered my forces but pains like stabs in my muscles stopped me. And always this awful headache, the dizziness and the impression of spinning around in a bowl as a big fish looking for a way to escape from its invisible cage.

Nicolas understood:

“You made a lot of efforts today.”

Raphael added:

“I’m gonna stay next to you so you don’t have an accident.”

My two elder sons’ presence made my mind up.

I could never forget that laborious climbing. I stopped at every step in order to keep my balance. I made a face because the pain was so intense: my kidneys ached, my head was on fire, the feeling my healthy leg was becoming as heavy and stiff as the other. I almost fell several times. Even Alexandre looked after me and held me from the top of the stairs. The look I gave them was the one of a martyr and I felt bad about it. Why so much suffering? Why had I to impose me this ordeal? I was the kind of person who only liked to spread happiness. I thought about Bach’s music which was a hymn to God. “Jesus, may my bliss remain”. Notes marched in my head like sparks. I eventually arrived in the living room where I fell on my chair in front of Florence and the boys’ overjoyed looks. Nicolas stayed apart, he knew how I had suffered and didn’t share the general enthusiasm. We sat at the table; I was not hungry. I didn’t want to speak, I looked in the emptiness in front of me. The words of my sons and Florence formed a kind of far away brouhaha. I was in a sort of fog. After lunch, I sat in the coach. I would like to rest in my bed but I’d rather minimize my pathetic situation. Florence watched TV next to me, which annoyed me. I wasn’t free to make faces, lie down in order to relieve my back andmy left shoulder which I had the impression nails were dug into. Downstairs, Raphael played the cello. I listened to but I could not notice the wrong notes he did on purpose so as me to correct him. When he got upstairs, I asked him for one more month before we played Beethoven’s sonata again. He smiled incredulously.

I was unable to get downstairs alone after dinner. Nicolas and Raphael were out for thr night. Alexandre helped instead whereas Constantin advised him. I hid them my pains. Once I was in my room, I laid down in my bed, all dressed. I was settled properly on my back which hurt less, I could hear my heart beating a little less softly, regularly. My head was still burning but it was usual now. I didn’t even notice it now.

Finally I tried to undress but Florence had to help me. It took a little while because I was a big, clumsy man who could not be manipulated easily. We laughed about it.

“I did know it was a bad idea to go to the Mass by foot.”

She was right. However, I was sure it had been necessary. Being in touch with the outside world was so important for someone like me who came back from the dead. I took up with life again, with the daily life of my neighborhood, I got back to the top slowly.

Awful night, filled with the usual nightmares, but also so more there. Noise was escorted by images and I saw blurrily man walking towards the gallows. I could still hear the screams of the dying people. But where was I? I passed this traumatism to Nicolas who, when he was little, hung his figurines to his bed bars. Men wearing dark uniforms rose their guns in front of me. They spoke a language I understood but it was not French. Then I saw two figures who were beaten and forced to walk, pushed with the top of the Tommy guns by a hooden commando unit. Would they be my father and my mother ? And why will the French Army involve?

When I woke up, I was convinced I was not in France, walking people were sentenced to death. By the communist government? By the KGB? Prisoners were spoken Russian. It fitted with the revelations of the young Gypsy, of my mother-in-law’s tarots, of the ones coming to me following my meetings with Veronique and Danya, the revelations I got thanks to the numerous therapy sessions after my strokes with the neuropsychatrists, the reflexologists and my kinesiologist. Retrospectively, and with all the possible approaches, I knew – after all – the gathered revelations, even those you got with no formal proof had to be seriously considered.