In an apartment on the second floor overlooking the seacoast, Emilie Simon is singing her Desert song as the ceiling fan hummed along. There is one pink lamp, casting on the floor a singular shadow. A woman curls up in the corner of her bed. Her nest of hair is resting on the belly of her pillow. A book, L’Étranger by French philosopher Albert Camus, lays open to pg. 113.
The phone buzzed on Friday while she was wearing her favorite two-piece dress, blanc et noir. She was squatting on the kitchen floor, next to a pair of pumps, peeling a bag of red onions. When the layers of onion came off their plump round bodies the stinging sensation always drove her on the verge of tears, but she never cried. She blinked twice, hard, and placed the phone between her left cheek and shoulder with ease. Years of work as a secretary in a high-end fashion boutique have made it an easy thing to do.
“Hey! It’s me.”
Upon hearing his voice, she picked up a raw onion, examined it in her hand, and took a bite. A drop of onion juice trickled down the curve of the vegetable and onto her arm as the instant burning shot up her nose and left her with a bitter foulness in her mouth. She paused, and then said:
“I didn’t expect you back in town so soon.”