Stefan Valeriu left early in the morning and didn't come back until late at night, after dinner. He wandered through several neighboring villages, smoked a lot and talked, very earnestly, about the harvest and the weather with some peasants he met. 'Perhaps it's not nice of me to be running away,' it crossed his mind several times on the way, but the mysteriously shut windows of Renée Ray encouraged his escapade, from afar. 'It's better, much better this way.'As for this Odette, maybe it wouldn't hurt to take her by the ear and tell her that her joke from yesterday evening was the prank of a peevish child, which he didn't enjoy at all. Returning to the guest house, he is very happy that it's late, that the refectory is empty and that everybody went to sleep. A dim light at the Rays' windows; darkness at Odette Mignon. 'All the better!...'However, he should have said goodbye to her. Tomorrow, before daybreak, she will be gone and, obviously, he will not see her again. 'She was nice sometimes…'And, climbing to his room, he laughs, realizing that, with this "she was", he already put an end to this episode of the beautiful girl, a little eccentric, with dark blue eyes. He goes flat out and he feels that every step he makes brings him closer to an unprecedented bliss: taking off his boots, stretching out his bare arms, falling on the cold bed linen. Six more steps, two more steps, none left. He leans heavily on the door handle, pushes, opens, comes in – everything with the slow voluptuousness of a wanderer who reached his destination – and turns on the switch of the lamp. "Good evening, Odette."Why hasn't he startled? It would have been logical, natural, necessary for him to startle. At least this much: to startle. He finds her, at this hour, in his room, in his bed, naked, calm, familiar and, instead of what should have been an immense amazement, instead what should have been a noisy outburst, he found nothing else to say than:"Good evening, Odette.""Good evening, Stefan."He draws near, kisses her on both cheeks, strokes her round knees and then, he takes off his rucksack. "I'm really tired, you know. I've wandered about a lot today. Have you been waiting long?""Yes. For almost two hours.""And didn't you get bored?""No. I turned off the light, got undressed and lay on the bed. There's a nice view to the woods from here."He kept undressing, indolently, showing no anticipation. "Anything new in the guest house?""Nothing. Mrs. Ray didn't come out today either, Mr. Ray asked of you. In the evening, I said goodbye to everyone and went to lock the suitcases. I only left out my dress for the journey and look how you sat on it.""I'm sorry. Shall I turn off the light?"He stopped, also naked, in front of the bed, calm, with no anxiety, no shyness, a friend with her naked body, as if he had known it for a long time."Yes, turn it off."They hug silently, she loses herself in his arms, and he covers her from head to ankles, glad that this delicate, and at the same robust, body doesn't shiver and is not in a hurry. He feels her calm breasts, hears the rhythmic heartbeat, listens to her tranquil breath. The girl's thighs open up like two wings, docile, but with certain firmness in their movement. It's a compliant, attentive body, which follows his confidently, responding to his flexibilities, precisely, as when touching piano keys. They do not look for each other in the dark, they do not lose each other, they do not talk: everything is harmonious, like the continuous growth of two stalks. And Odette's scream, a single scream, of pain, of triumph, of freedom, frightens neither her nor him, clear as it is, sharp, acute, walking out of the open window towards the woods, losing itself through the trees, in order to wake up a squirrel or to meet in the air with the faraway scream of a wild cat, just as free. "Are you crying, Odette?"No, she's not crying. She's just warmer and her injured body leans more against his, just as firm and determined, but with heavier shoulders and the overwhelmed hands on the pillow."Are you sleepy, Odette?"No, she's not sleepy. She has never been more awake, she has never been less dizzy, she has never realized better what's going on. Look, this is your hand, this is your knee, this is your rough mouth, this is my ear that you are kissing without giving me the thrills, this is your wide shoulder blade, too wide, here is your wrist and there, look, is the dawn that comes… Soon, from Serrier, one will hear the noise of an automobile approaching. She will have to leave, in answer to the horn that called her downstairs, on the road. Why isn't she crying, why isn't she asking him to keep her here, why isn't she squeezing him ardently, why does she lie beside him evenly and why does she love him as for an eternity, not for an hour?Odette Mignon is on the threshold, in the same white dress, with the same blue beret from the first day, ready to leave, her carpetbag in her hand."Goodbye, Stefan."She stopped on the threshold."Odette?""Yes?""Tell me now, why didn't you open the door last night?"She thinks of it a little."I don't know Stefan, I honestly don't know!"
by Mihail Sebastian (1907-1945)