Speaking French

admndaretwrtWriters at Home and in Isolation

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I try to be gentle with myself. I peel fruit slowly and place it on blue and white china just to see the colours contrast. I will myself to take small bites of little things. I tell myself I will eat like a French girl; read books by French women, learn French.

       I have the chance to finish cups of tea, so I read my tea leaves. I stargaze, navel-gaze, looking for a future fortune, looking for a memory of me. Each hour is a dripping Dali clock. My reflection is a kaleidoscope of Picasso faces. My energy is the clattering bone china of grief.

       I practice rainy day activities through relentless heatwaves. I hang shadow boxes full of Monarchs, Gatekeepers, Common Blues; add pins to maps that show past visits and planned routes. I cross-stitch scenes of the natural world that thrives outside my window; cornflowers blooming out of pavement cracks. I leaf through foreign dictionaries; sit with the frustration of learning verbs: I have done/I am doing/I will do/I would do. I make notes in margins. I start a journal, write in a precise hand.

       My quarantine diary becomes a list of ambitions, future tense intentions: I will cultivate a capsule wardrobe, dress like a Parisian. I will put on earrings, a matching necklace, gilded accents. I will be comfortably aureate. I will be the kind of person who dances at a party. I will be the kind of person who goes to parties; moves without a measure of the eyes upon me.

       I will go back to the cities and just wander, sole-wearing and soul-weary. I will go to Paris for a weekend, buy macarons placed in shiny boxes tied with red ribbon. I will visit the Le Jardin des Papillons, go to the Louvre, read Proust. Speak French.



Zoe is a stay-at-home parent of five, living in Wincanton but originally from Burnham-on-Sea. Zoe has recently had a story longlisted in the Frome Festival Short Story Competition and will begin studying Creative Writing at Oxford University this October.

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