Erwan is at home! He’s awaiting the return of Cécile and the children. Emily is 5 months old now. She does not always eat easily. She still sleeps a lot. The doctor was clear:
"This child will take years to recover. You will always have to be very careful."
Xiao Hui left an hour ago now. Morgane is playing in the lounge. She still does not come readily to him. As if he was a stranger. A knock on the door. He gets up, walks across the room, through the small hall and opens. It is Cosmos and Na.
"Hi Cosmos! They are not back yet! I think they will arrive soon!"
They shake hands. Na kisses Erwan.
"Hi Erwan! How do you feel? What did you do today?"
Erwan hesitates. He does not really know what to say. Cosmos sees his embarrassment:
"Ok, you spent the day with a girl in the absence of your spouse and you will not tell me!" he adds jokingly.
"I went into town, walking! Weather was beautiful! Then I came back in the afternoon!"
"Then you saw how people in Beijing have defied the power!"
"Uh, yes, well a little! I didn’t notice anything. I was lost in my thoughts and I did not look at what was happening around me. I went up to Tiananmen. I parked my bike and I continued on foot! Want a drink?"
"Do you have beer?"
"Exceptionally no, but there is some whiskey that Sandra gave me, you'll like it!"
"Erwan, you are transparent! I will never engage you for covert operations. Yes, give me some whiskey. It is Scotch at least?"
Erwan gives himself a countenance.
"Absolutely Scotch, comrade. Will Na drink with us too? "
Cosmos makes a face:
"I do not think so. Since she has been seeing her Qi Gong master, she has followed a monastic diet: no liquor, no more cigarettes, no meat... "
Erwan interrupts. He saw that the word whiskey induced a disapproving face from Na.
"She still fucks at least?"
"Yes, do not worry. The monastic style has not yet stopped her desire! And she is still as authoritarian as before!"
Erwan takes out two glasses and a bottle of Glenlivet. He puts the glasses on the coffee table. He pours the amber liquid into the glasses.
"Slowly, Erwan. I see you're in good hands with ... Rochester."
Morgane approaches slowly. As soon as she sees her, Na takes her in her arms. But the little girl does not want to and takes refuge with her father. Erwan takes her in his arms. She puts her head on his shoulder. Erwan is moved. This is the first time she has done that. It is also the first time in months he has been alone with her. Na is upset. She tries to catch her but the girl refuses and hits Na. Erwan holds Morgane with his left arm and raises his glass. Na leaves them and settles into one of the armchairs in the lounge. She takes out a small book from her bag and immerses herself in reading.
"Cheers Cosmos. She is not agreeable your girlfriend! Buddhism doesn’t suit her."
"Cheers Erwan. She is not worse than yours. But they have other qualities… hidden ones!"
At that moment the door opens and two little devils tumble into the room.
"Too thirsty, too hot!"
They seem overexcited. Cécile arrives shortly after.
"Naughty kids! Never again alone with both of them! Especially your son! He almost fell down countless times. He was thirsty all the time! About your daughter, she kept asking for hamburgers and Coke! That's your influence!"
She has her bad day mood. He tries to answer, but he has no time. Cécile attacks him again:
"Well! It is La dolce vita here, when I am outside! I didn’t know there was whiskey at home."
She takes the bottle and reads the label:
"And a good one! Glenlivet. How much did you pay for this with my money?"
And she looks at Cosmos:
"Yes, with my money because it isn’t with what he earns as a journalist that he can contribute to household expenses!"
"Calm down Cécile! I met Sandra Tremblay. I talked with her a bit and I told her that I planned to visit you. She went back to her apartment and gave me this bottle for you!"
The words of Cosmos seem to increase tenfold Cécile’s anger. On top of that, the children ask for something to drink!
"Well I see you’re telling me a fable."
She turns to her husband:
"Do you think I don’t know you are flirting with that whore, Sandra?"
"Cécile, please! Don’t speak like that in front of children. And about cola and hamburgers, Mona made them taste it during her wedding! It’s nothing to do with me."
"Oh, Mona Huang! Yet another bitch! Beware! I’m not that naive."
Morgane wakes up and starts crying. She reaches out to her mother who takes her from her father‘s arms. Clearly, the die is cast!
Cécile leaves the room and takes refuge in the kitchen with Morgane. She takes lemonade from the fridge and gives two large glasses to Loïc and Lorraine. She calls them, gives them their drinks. Then they all return to the living room. Cécile seems calmer. Her eyes are red. Obviously she’s cried. She settles on the couch with her children.
Cosmos looks pretty embarrassed. He checks the time on his watch.
"It is 7:25.The show starts in Haidian in an hour. It's not too far but we must go through security checks. I think we should go. Loïc and Lorraine, you are ready? We’ll eat when we get there!"
"I’ll bring them back to you later."
Na stands up. Erwan empties his glass.
"Well I must go. The bus to the concert leaves in 10 minutes. See you later."
Cécile observes him with somber eyes. She notices that he has changed clothes since the morning. He’s now wearing black pants, street shoes, and a white shirt. He puts on a jacket.
"I see! Nice clothes to go to concerts."
The answer is quick:
"You didn’t want to come. I don’t know why I would dress improperly! "
Tit for tat, voices are raised again. She gets up:
"Almost gentrified. It's not like a few years ago! When you attended demonstrations with a green army parka!"
He does not answer, just:
He kisses the children, but Morgane turns her head away. He does not insist. That child will never be his. He goes into the room near the entrance. Emilie is half awake. She is on her back and playing with her feet. She smiles at him. How beautiful she is. If she was not there, he would be gone. He leans on the little bed, gives her a kiss and leaves the apartment along with Cosmos, Na and the children.
“How are you getting to Haidian Cosmos?
"We’re taking the bus. Five minutes. We could have gone by bike, but it's easier with the bus!"
They leave the garden and head to the exit of the hotel.
A minibus is waiting.
"I think it's your bus, Erwan."
Indeed, many hotel guests are already inside. Erwan hugs his children, gives Na a kiss and shakes hands with Cosmos. He watches them go. Lorraine turns around and gives him a little wave. Loïc has taken Cosmos’ hand. His sister gives him a blow on the shoulder. He turns and makes a sign to his father. He shouts:
"We'll eat Chinese hamburgers!"
Erwan waves back. He enters the van. Sandra is not there yet! Rochester is already settled with his young wife.
"Hi Erwan, your day was good?"
He blushes a little:
"Yes, not bad! We strolled! I won’t sit next to you, Sandra will arrive soon. I’ll keep her a seat."
Indeed Sandra arrives shortly after. She seems radiant. She has changed her clothes too. She’s wearing a little black dress cut low and a small red bag. She gets into the mini bus. She sees Rochester and his wife in the back, on the left; Erwan in front of them. A place is vacant beside him.
"You're beautiful Sandra, says Rochester. Better, dazzling! People will only see you during the concert."
She smiles and stares at Erwan.
"Can I sit next to you, Mr. Erwan?"
He blushes and smiles.
"Sure, I can refuse nothing to such a pretty woman!"
"Oh, really! There must be so many ladies in your bed!”
He blushes again:
“That isn’t what I meant to say."
She continues to tease him:
"Oh, I'm not so pretty? Erwan you’re making things worse!"
He does not know what to say, which makes Sandra laugh.
She moves beside him and gives him a tender kiss on the lips. The seats are narrow. Rochester looks at them with amusement.
"Erwan, do you have good seats at least?"
He turns around.
"Far enough from the stage. In fact I have four seats, from O6 to O12!"
Rochester scratches his head.
“You are smart. How is it that I have such bad seats?"
Erwan hands him two tickets.
"Here take these two; you will be next to us!"
Rochester takes them.
"OK, in the end, when people have children, they still have advantages. Thank you to your children and Cécile!"
“Better for me not to talk to Cécile about you, whatever comes from Canada irritates her!"
Sandra says nothing but she seems uncomfortable.
Other people enter the bus. A German family who also settle in the back on the right-hand side of the van. They are all dressed in jeans. The kids are tall, in fact teenagers. Few seats remain. Erwan watches the clock. 7:50. It's time to go. 4 seats are vacant. The driver gets up from his seat. He looks upset. He goes round the minibus and is about to close the door when four people come running. Two Japanese couples. They climb into the vehicle and settle on the remaining seats.
Sandra whispers in Erwan’s ear:
"Do you see how they are dressed up those Japanese? Their dresses, they look like sacks of potatoes."
She takes the opportunity to take control of Erwan.
"The guys with their pants badly cut, it isn’t any better!” Erwan retorts, pressing her hand firmly!
The driver slides the rear door and closes it. He passes behind the minibus and goes back to the front. He opens the door, sits on his seat and turns the engine on. The air conditioning begins to purr. An extremely cold air conditioning. Sandra pulls out a headscarf from her bag to cover her hands and throat.
"I’m delicate; with AC I get a sore throat! In fact, do you know where this concert is going on, because I’m following you, trusting you, but I don’t know where we’re going?”
"Uh, same for me!"
"At the Beijing Concert Hall, guys, Beixinhuajie in the Xicheng District. It's not far away, near the Forbidden City, half an hour at most.
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