Juste une fable n° 9


 dreamscapes (betrayals) n° 4



Mary Shaw



            here there is an element of betrayal that lurks in the back of my mind. it begins in a sprawling communal place. my father’s mansion has many rooms. in one of them is carla. she is lying on her bed and moaning, just because of the changing tides. before, it seems we were roommates, but now she’s moving out, as the rearranging of my stuff has been too heavy, too cumbersome, with all sorts of men coming in and out – nailing cabinets high on the walls, distributing decorative stones. carla says she needs her own space. and i am glad to visit her there, though she’s lying down long and thin on her white metal bed in a cleared out room and won’t stop complaining about blood.

            in other rooms, there are musicians playing. the largest seems to have quite the collection of guitars, but somewhere, lost among them, lying in its case, is my own precious mandolin, which i know i need to get back to, sometime before i die. i’m not in a hurry for that confrontation. so i move in and out of the halls and talk to people, look at both the women and the men. the women i see are superficial, outlet-type girls, college girls, but not the brainy type. they are talking about their visits, their adventures, and i’m astonished to discover that they’ve actually gone on trips to strip malls and think this is part of their education. i notice that they aren’t very pretty, though they are young, tan, and smooth. so i lose interest, begin wandering in the halls, and there i cross many men, one woman too, who really grab my attention.

            the woman is dark-haired and fair-skinned with freckles. she has pointed breasts and heavy forearms and only seems interested in sex. i move away from her as soon as i get this, and look for something less threatening – mystery, and a feeling of possibility and loss. i become that wayward child once again, winding in and out of spaces where adults are always seeking out each other and never minding (invisible) me. i feel wistful and desirous. several men look full of power and interesting to me, artists and musicians trying to plug into the same thing i am, but they’re all going about it in different ways. one is looking for a tall, blond woman, determined to get to his secret through her. i’m upset that i can’t distract him, want to follow him. and i do… a ways… but then i lose him. he is out of sight.

            as i am focusing on this loss, i notice, from the corner of my eye, another man who is very fixed on me. he is part of a small group, who wants me to go into the room with the guitars. so i listen and peer in for a while through the windows, to see what might be happening in that space. once again my attention settles there on a man who doesn’t see me, one who is playing beautifully, and paying no attention to anyone. so it isn’t the man who invites me, but the other, who really draws me into the room, though i feel i can enter only because there is someone following me too, expecting that from me something can happen. i sit alone cagily in a corner (where i can keep track of every angle) and listen, just listen, till the glowing star leaves and it (what, the mystery?) is free for all. then i move slowly to pick up my mandolin.

            the wood has disintegrated into layers near the head where the pegs are, and the strings are loose, so loose they have completely unraveled, frayed into strands of long, thick, women’s hair. i see that to fix them, i will need to spend a while with the dark woman, who i’d left some time ago. i do that, repair my instrument by pulling her hair very taught, smoothing and winding it in strands around the pegs, so as to regather and tighten all the strings. but i don’t feel like practicing. i wish rather to go home, to head back to childhood where everything is chaotic and erotic, and my mind is set on selling itself, thinking that is where the current is.


 Mary Shaw est professeure de littérature française des dix-neuvième et vingtième siècles à l'Université de Rutgers (New Jersey).  Outre ses travaux universitaires, elle a publié deux livres pour enfants ainsi qu'un recueil de poésie intitulé Album Without Pictures (2008).  


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