Everybody has gone home, except for Aunt Maude who would sleep in her bed, because she lives in the city and she is old. Mathilde would have to sleep with her sister tonight. She doesn't really like Aunt Maude; she makes weird noises with her nose when she is upset. She thinks Aunt Maude sounds exactly like a pig being butchered. She knows they make that sound because she likes to watch her brother kill one of their pigs every year and pretend to be scared. Because then, her mother would put her rough hands on her eyes and say:
"Don't be such a baby."
But Mathilde knows her mother doesn't like to watch either, her mother doesn't like death. Her mother doesn't like that her husband is dead, even though he has been gone for 10 years now.
They found his plane a week ago. She doesn't really know who "they" is, but she likes to picture a young couple, on their honeymoon. They would have gone scuba diving, she has read about it in one of her brother's magazines, and that's when they would have seen it. Right there, in a field of sea weed, her father's plane, still intact after all those years.
She knows she had been expected to say something witty, something eloquent; she is both these things, most of the time. But today is one of those days; a day when you can't be either of those things. Today, she feels inadequate and incoherent; she is both these things, sometimes. Today, she has a good reason to feel that way. Today she is wearing heels and tights and a dress. She can't possibly feel intelligent while wearing a dress.
That particular dress is made of black coarse wool: too hot for the temperature. It has been her mother's once and it is too small at the chest; she couldn't help blushing every time her cousin's eyes lingered on her for too long.
"I won't wear it." She told her mother.
"Don't argue, Mathilde. Not today."
"I can choose my own clothes!" She whined pathetically.
She even tried a bit of crying. It didn't work and the slap she received in exchange still stung. Now that she thinks about it, she feels stupid, and ashamed. How old is she to cry over a dress? Now that she thinks about it, she should probably be crying over her father's death.
She hadn't prepared anything. She didn't have anything to say. No nice memories; she barely remembers him, no great advise he has given her; he didn't like to talk to her. Nothing. All Mathilde remembers is the day he left for camp, she was only six years old, she hadn't really understood. Unlike all the other girls at her school, he didn't give her anything. Sophie's father gave her his pocket watch. Mathilde had nothing to remember, no hug, not even a pat on the head. He climbed on the big green truck, with all of her friends' fathers. He just left, and now he wasn't coming back.
She wouldn't have the chance to make memories. She wouldn't have the chance to find out if he was a good father. She wouldn't have the chance to ask for his pocket watch. She wouldn't have the chance to know if she could have loved him, if he had loved her. That makes her want to cry.