“Against God,” an excerpt in translation

Québec Reads
Jan 18 · 3 min read

by Patrick Senécal

Quattro Books, 2012

…you turn to look at your neighbour’s house, a quiet house, a normal house, you walk to the bathroom, stop, return to the living room and urinate in a corner, you sit back down and you do nothing, a quivering in your eye, a stirring inside your head, the slow shifting of quicksand, then people walk by, children return home from school, you don’t get up to look out the window, you lie down on the couch, you curl into a ball, you close your eyes, you hide them with your fists and you weep, you weep in a silence that buries all living sound, seventy-five minutes, you get up, put on your coat and boots, make your way to the closest restaurant, a thirty-minute walk or so, but once there, you don’t dare go inside, and I think I know why, you used to come here with Judith and the children, once a fortnight, you keep on going, you stop at the next restaurant, a chic Italian eatery you’ve only been to once or twice before, you step into an elegant dining room, more than a dozen customers including a married couple, vague acquaintances in fact, both wave with a smile, clearly still in the dark, you stare at them, expressionless, not responding to their greeting, they frown at your stony silence, mutter to each other then ignore you, you eat exceedingly slowly, then do nothing, not even once you’ve finished, not even when the bill is brought to you, total inertia, the waitress returns to ask if you’re all right, you say yes and don’t move, twenty minutes, vaguely you notice the curious glances the couple sends your way, the waitress returns, polite, makes it clear you must go, other customers are waiting, you can plainly see the many empty tables but you don’t insist, you get up, you pay and you step outside, it’s dark and cold out, you don’t do up your coat, you take the longest route home, impossible detours, ninety minutes instead of forty, you’re frozen to the bone when you finally step inside, lock the door, roam through the house, stop to stare at your twenty-six sports DVDs purchased over the past three years, then you give up on choosing one, just turn on the big 50-inch TV that you bought yourself two months ago, lie down on the couch and, remote in hand, you listen to the news, the economic crisis, a look back at Haiti’s earthquake, the rape and murder of a young woman, the main suspect an escaped prisoner from Donnacona who’s been on the loose for a number of years, but when your story comes up, you change the channel, then switch from one channel to the next, never stopping for more than thirty seconds on any given show, then around midnight you come across a channel showing nothing, all done, all dark, you drop the remote, cross your hands between your cheek and the armrest of the couch and stare at the black screen, you fall into the screen, you close your eyes and dream of that darkness, that emptiness, and the nothingness turns out to be the worst possible nightmare…

Translation by Susan Ouriou and Christelle Morelli

Québec Reads

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