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M – Part Sixteen



Back at my desk, I can let myself be tempted by a quick surf on Gabriel’s Facebook page. Here, it is nice because the office uses high speed internet, unlike the what-ever-barely-connecting-me-to-the-web-line I have at home. I go from one album to the next, keeping just enough attention to the oustide world to close the window at the slightest sign of an invasion of my cubicule by any female co-worker. I need any teasing, or spot light attention, and it is crystal clear that any of those who crossed his path would recognize Gabriel in a split of a second.

I love his Europe vacations albums… He clearly still travels regularly, because the last pictures seem pretty (indeed!) recent. The sceneries are breath taking and varied…

I can’t make up my mind to open the file tagged “South”. It is completely silly, but since I spend all my vacations in Cuba (for two weeks, twice a year, since… Pfeww, long enough to call my little getaway my “chalet”), it feels like I am afraid to recognize spots I know. Afraid to know we’ve been to the same places. To know we’ve walked on the same beaches, that we dove in the same turquoise waves, that we might have slept in the same bed… No! I don’t even want to know it. Anyway, his other trips and adventures are well enough documented for me to fantasize a whole life by his side with the rest of the files, the Caribbean album is off limit. Ok, for now…

Fanny shows up again a little later, followed by Caroline and Sebastien who want to say goodbye before my holyday departure. I learn that Daniel has sworn to bitterly make me regret my flavored coffee. Sebastien even shows me a video he shot in the men’s restroom with his cellphone after the tasting. I think my wasabi/rag water ratio was a bit intense, and I crack up when I see Daniel’s scarlet face running out of the toilet stall to rush to the faucet to drink a huge gulp of fresh water.
I most certainly had the same complexion when Gabriel translated my nice effort to speak some Swedish, so I would call it even… Even Steven!

I put away the few knickknacks I have to bring home in my bag, and kiss goodbye my three co-workers. Fanny makes sure the road is clear and that I can leave the building without coming across Daniel. (I can imagine the “Journal de Montréal” front page; “Murdered the night before her vacation, the killer didn’t appreciate his coffee!”)

Free at last! Ok, I still have a day of prepping ahead, but I know that the day after tomorrow, I’ll be far from all worries. I’ll finally be able to forget about my everyday life and only think about the sea, the warm sand beneath my feet, my long walks in the dawn’s light… About the good food, the evenings spent with friends (when you visit the same resort year after year after year after year, you end up having vacation friends that you meet from time to time, overseas, without necessarily keeping in touch the rest of the year). About reading light summery novels in a hammock, photography sessions in my favorite spots of the island…. Ouah! Can’t wait for Friday!

Back home, I have a little bit of trouble preparing my suitcase, between Fiou jumping in it every time I turn my back to go look for some items in another room, and my endless researches through the apartment. Besides, I really have to find my good old flip-flops (I really don’t want to have to get used to a brand new pair this week). And I have to make sure everything is ready for Maude when she comes over.

Maude is a new co-worker in our department. Good fortune allowed her to move in the apartment adjoining mine, therefore making us neighbours. And life sometimes working magic, we quickly became good friends. To top it all, Maude likes felines as much if not more than me, and insists on coming to my place to visit my babies every day when I leave the country.

This evening, she comes over for her pre-babysitting meeting. Not that I really need to explain anything to her before my departure. Our, well, her routine is pretty settled. Now, it is more like a tradition that we perpetuate. She always comes the night before I take off and we talk over a glass of wine before the official handing over of the apartment keys and the goodbye hugs.

“Ding dong!”

Speaking of the devil…

Maude is waiting downstairs waiting for me to unlock the door, and climbs her way upstairs. She has a bottle of white wine under an arm, and a bottle of red under the other, greets Fiou that literally jumps on her, and Mireille hiding behind my calves timidly, before turning my way.

– So… Ready to leave?

Maude know all too well that I only leave tomorrow night, but I find it wiser to give myself a day to recuperate before flying to paradise. Last year, I found it too intense to get up at 3 o’clock in the morning to get to the airport, still suffering from my hangover. Because it is a fact, even if we tell ourselves we’ll just exchange keys and goodbyes, we both know we are uncontrollable. Maude, Maryse and a good bottle, that’s a mix that goes a long way. Yes sir! I go to the kitchen to get the glasses and the corkscrew, and when I get back to the living room, Maude is already comfortably installed with Fiou on her lap, ready to chitchat her life away.




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