Living With The French ~ A Novelette ~ Chapter Eight

VIII

A French Easter Bunny

Sunday 11th April 1993

The cat woke me up last night. It was jumping up and down on my bed. I didn’t get much sleep, so I stayed in bed until 11:30. Then, realising it’s Easter Sunday, I jumped out of bed with joy! I washed and dressed myself neatly, as I was expecting many chocky eggs.

“Bonjour,” said Mme. Chasseigne, “Comment vas tu?”
“Bonjour!” I replied, “Trés bien merci.”

Then Mattieu came along and presented to me a tiny little Easter egg. I opened it from the silver foil and tasted it… it was delicious! So small yet delicious!

“Merci!” I said, and Mattieu scuttled off back to his room.

As I journeyed towards the kitchen, I noticed through the gap in the door, where it was ajar, a very big shadow coming from the table and across the floor. I slowly pushed the door open and walked in.

I then received the biggest shock of the holiday! Placed very neatly on the table was the most ENORMOUS Easter egg you would ever see in all your days! It was so huge that I even measured it = 2 feet by 1 foot! I could do nothing but stare.

I opened my mouth to say something to Arnaud’s mum, but my jaw just ended up hanging there in space, not quite sure if I was dreaming. So after somewhat covertly slapping myself around the face to wake myself up, I asked as POLITELY as I could… when, exactly… we were eating it.

“Tôt ou tard,” she replied.

Sooner or later? But why not now? It’s so big and beautiful! Oh! I just want to dig my teeth into it!

But, I realised that the egg had to be for someone, and after some quietly humble and cautiously reserved enquiring, I discovered that we were, in fact, meant to all share it. Ah well, I can’t argue with a good spirit I suppose.

I did however expect many, many arguments between us all about who has the next piece, the bigger piece, or who has how many pieces… but, as it happened, there were no arguments at all, and, strange as it may seem, everybody else kept OFFERING me pieces!

I have to say their hospitality in this respect was exceptional. All praise towards them. Although, the thought had crossed my mind that they may be trying to poison me… but no! Of course not, that would be ridiculous! As it turned out, they were just being so kind and generously French, that you would think you were on another planet!

The day moved on and after breakfast, Pascal, one of Arnaud’s friends, knocked at the front door to ask if we wanted to play football. Arnaud and I agreed, and so did Arnaud’s older brother, Lido. So the teams were to be Lido, Arnaud, Pascal and me against four more of Arnaud’s other friends.

After a short walk down the quiet local road, we came to a kind of urban intersection where a very long grassy island filtered traffic in a roundabout way. Not that there was much traffic out here and not that there was much grass either. The heat had practically turned it to straw.

The island was certainly big enough though and soon enough the game commenced. It was very hot and very dusty. But our spirits were collectively charged with the passion for a Sunny holiday competition.

We played for a very long time. A very long time. In fact the Sun had moved a substantial distance by the time we neared the final goal. The birds were quietly chirping from their observation branches and would occasionaly visit to share the friendship of the Sun.

And it was friendship. I didn’t know any of these other friends, only really Arnaud and his brother, Lido. Yet we all enjoyed each other’s time and company as like distant relatives at a family gathering.

As the final goal of the game neared its making, I had grown tired from all the running around in the hot dust and as the Sun streamed down just a little more on this curious little island, that goal sure enough was made.

As it happened, the game was a draw at the end, but without any regrets. All of us enjoyed the match to the fullest and made a memory worth holding on to.

We all even had a late lunch together and stuffed ourselves with Easter egg. Then at 6pm Arnaud’s friends went home – all except Pascal, Arnaud’s best friend. Who by the way, has an extremely sexy sister.

After Pascal’s sister had gone home, Pascal offered Arnaud and me a game of Basketball. Tired but refuelled from all the food, I had to accept. Basketball is one of my most favourite games.

Even though it was late in the afternoon, the Sun still shone brightly and seemed to be taking a very long time to go down, almost as if it had stopped in time and space, especially for us.

So with no time to lose we all cycled over to a special place I had been once before. Max Linder, Arnaud’s school. Since it was the holidays nobody was about and so we cycled around to the sport courts in the school grasslands nearby.

We arrived at the Basketball court and got started straight away as three independent teams, man for man. The friendly grace of the Sun moving near and timeless across the warm plane meant we could and did play for a very long time. The air was heavy but sweet, the ground hard but kind and my forehead was sweating like nothing I own had ever sweated before.

And we played on. We played on until only the Sun would decide when it was time.

The three of us really enjoyed each other’s company, always finding an adequate moment to chat about something or other as we played. In fact, even though I’d only just met Pascal, I felt like I had known him all my life – as a brother.

In fact I felt the same way about France, and the longer I was there the more I felt I fitted in completely… that France is where I belong. The food, the countryside and most of allthe people.

Now, for the first time since arriving, it seemed all my experiences so far were beginning to turn full circle and embrace me from all directions.

And the Sun still shone. We had played from 6pm to 9.30pm and had become extremely tired and sweaty. We agreed it was time to call it a day well made and then we all went home.

When we arrived back at Arnaud’s house I was so tired that I felt I would have a shower, then bed. So I said “Bon nuit” to Pascal and Arnaud who were still chatting outside the house.

Then Pascal made me laugh.

“Why… er… where are you going?” Pascal asked.
“J’ai besoin de couché,” I replied.
“Why?” he asked.

Now, I know the French can be somewhat ‘laid back’ but really?!

Nevertheless he didn’t mind that I was retiring for the evening. So we shook hands like two gentlemen, humbly appreciative of the good spirit of life exchanged, and said goodbye.

At 10pm I went to bed. The cat was sitting at the end of my bed, keeping my toes lovely and warm.

“Good night kittykat,” I said.
“Puurrr, Puurrr,” it replied.

I closed my eyes and, as the familiar scent of French timberwork warmly cuddled my nose, I snuggled up to my new foreign dreams.

A truly brilliant day, I thought.

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