I was 3 years old when my mother and my sister and I, and a friend of my mother with her children, lived in France. It was the first time my mother had left my father. We lived in France for maybe 4 months. Every day the sun was sizzling our skin. We never saw a cloud.
I hated France.
I hated the apartment with walls of stone, white as chalk. I hated the bedstead I had to sleep in, while the Atlantic Ocean was howling day and night.
Our faces looked moderated but beautifully tinted. The sand of the beach was hot as a heater and our feet had blisters; our lips had cracks and our shoulders were loosing skin, like snakes lose their skin.
We were snakes in the blaze of France.
My mother was crying every day. She walked up and down the shore of the beach, looking for shells, sobbing. That unbearable summer she collected thousands of shells and dead crabs and pieces of twisted wood. When she walked up and down the shore I followed her like a little crippled shadow. She never looked around. It was like she didn't notice I followed her for 4 months. I can still see her black back; I can still hear her screaming her sorrow over the water.
The Ocean was aggressive and dangerous, and large salty tongues of water were thrown into the sky and dragged back into the mouth of the Ocean and the voice of the sea was thundering non-stop.
I wasn’t allowed to go into the sea alone. I decided to go into the sea alone. Bulging waves opened their jaws and swallowed me in a second. I was transported to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean and I looked around me. France was gone and fear could not get to the bottom of the sea. The water was cool as a breeze and I saw the clean sand and some animals that crawled there, and I didn’t feel any consternation before I lost consciousness.
I woke up at the beach, surrounded by legs of shouting adults. The sun burned my salty face and blinded my eyes. I had to throw up water and shells and crabs and light and hatred.
I knew I had nearly died but I longed to go back to the silence under the surface of that French hell. I started to cry, saying I wanted to go back to the bottom of the sea. I hated the adults that stopped me. I hated my mother for crying I almost died.
I just hated France.
Sometimes I still long for the bottom of the sea. Drowning is living in France to me.