Making Love by Jean-Philippe Toussaint

‘Pick it up’, she said. I didn’t say anything. ‘Pick it up,’ she repeated. I stared her smack in the eye, with my nastiest look, smack in the eye. I didn’t move. We’d stopped on the side walk, on either side of the umbrella upside down on the snow; people were walking by us and wondering what was going on, glaring briefly at us and continuing on their way, sometimes turning around for one last look at us. I didn’t move. I felt a tingling at my temples, I wanted to hit her. We were standing motionless a few yards from the entrance of a café, where melting snow was dripping slowly from the cloth awning. People sitting at the table inside the tiny place saw us through the window, I felt them watching, I felt them watching us. Neither Marie nor I moved. It was impossible, in any case, for either of us ever to pick up that umbrella. I managed to get a grip on myself, and turning around, I set out again in silence. Marie followed me, and we went off along the avenue, leaving behind us that transparent umbrella open on the side walk, upside down, abandoned in the snow.

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