Chapter 3: First Part / Chapter 3

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 87

In truth, when Nicole received the first blow from Francesco, she may have cried, but decided that everything was going as usual. She tried to justify Francesco because her own mother was caring, but most of all she remembered her as a police character. Margeaux often repeated before Nicko:
“When the Germans occupied France in the forties, Nicko, do you know what they said to our people?”
“What mom?”
“Go work, French pig! Here’s a shovel, here’s a trench, dig trenches, freak!”
Gratte never perceived this appeal as a personal one. All the same, we are talking about very remote events, before she was even born; about the German occupiers, who considered the French, and many other nations to be their slaves, thinking that they all should become so. Nicole knew about offensive images in almost all European languages. If you added up, then it turns out that in France—a dog, in Germany—a pig, in Italy—an animal in general.
Margeaux didn’t usually resort to physical punishment, but she was a strict woman. Several times she put her out of the door of the flat for about seven minutes due to some not very significant faults, which she does not even remember. Margeaux hid paper money and coins just because Nicko could tear them up or throw them somewhere.
She knows from childhood that money is valuable; she was not going to do anything bad with it. But as soon as she approached at least some coins, just to see tails and eagles, Margeaux immediately hid it.
When Nicko grew up, France had not yet converted to the euro. At that time there were francs equivalent to one dollar in the sense of a single coin. In one franc, one hundred cents or ten centimes (unlike dollars, in France the equivalent of ten cents had a different name). When she grew up and finished the last course of the university in 2002, the Francs completely ceased to exist and were replaced by euros. The request of the European Union; it was needed because France is in list countries that are of members of the European Union and it was very important that they shared the same currency.
Why Margeaux didn’t show Nicole the money remains a mystery. Most likely, in her childhood Margeaux tore them and destroyed from time to time, and now she believed that all children were the same. You might think that Nicko was undernourished, didn’t receive food, medical care, didn’t go to school, but no. The eldest daughter, Gratte, was getting everything. But it seemed that her mother didn’t know how to love, didn’t take care. The children were well fed, relatively satisfied, went to school.
At the same time—Margeaux constantly says that it’s hot in the flat, constantly opens windows, constantly prohibits being in a particular room there are ‘opened windows’. All right, so to ban standing on a chair with an open window or to touch a hot stove is quite logical.
Why can’t Nicko go where she wants? Margeaux didn’t put any lattices. The daughter didn’t go there simply because “It’s impossible to go there”. Even if no open window was visible, her mom will still come up with a million options, why she should not go there.
Responding to questions from her daughter, why it is possible in some rooms, but not in some other, Margeaux recalled:
“Once in my childhood, I lived in a village with my father’s grandmother. A needle was inserted in her old sewing machine. I tried to repeat what I saw a million times with my grandmother. I sat down on the bed in front of the sewing machine, put my finger in my hand, turned the handle and cut myself.”
This explanation was quite logical, but Nicko never understood how the prohibition to go to a certain room, even if there is no window is opened, is interconnected?
It’s necessary to lie down on a specific sofa, while others she was should not touch. Sometimes her mom made exceptions: it happened that the sun was setting in the backyard, or the sun was rising, and then it was appropriate. But it was impossible to approach the sofas whenever she wants to. She could look out the window at some sunset. These sunsets were absolutely no different from previous ones, were at the same time beautiful in its aesthetics, and dull in repetition and monotony.
Similarly, the mother hid knives and needles, but she didn’t prohibit the use of a vinyl player or a TV remote control. Nicole often hung out in front of the same TV, from the first or third school class she was interested in all sorts of political debates. It’s so marvelling for her age.
Have you ever thought where perfectionism and idealism scooped? Nicole understood that she was not proud of her childhood. If she had good memories, there were very few of them. They sounded like this: here my mother puts me out of the door for some barely understandable faults. And my mother once again scolds me after eating and she offers her daughter to put her second trousers on previous trousers. Nicko could not say that she will be hot: it’s meaningless. After all, she has two states: either Nicko will do as her mother wants, or she will wait for Nicole to understand that this needs to be done.
She has positive memories. She still can feel how she eats white fish: her favourite, by the way. She noticed that mother—Margeaux—often forbids this, but grandmother, Bernarda, on the contrary, is her good version. Since the family was not very rich, Margaux often sought to save money, cutting back on everything.
They managed to buy one or two kilograms of candy, but at the same time, mother would put Nicko only three, maximum four, candies. Bernarda sometimes offered Nicko six or nine in her absence. Why save it? It can be said, from time to time the grandmother added something that was so lacking from her mother.
Do you really think that, because of all the above, Nicole will not yet justify her husband? In fact, women who live with tyrants not avoid them—they are not always masochists. They are not always fools. They are the same victims as these tyrants. Some people say that life does not have the right to choose.
* * *
Learning that Nicole was in the cellar, Francesco repeated this several times. Then Nicko began to secretly go to the attic, Fran’s need to control grew so much that he began to check the latest phone numbers Nicko called. Realizing that Nicole never called him once, he even deprived Nicko of her cell phone and began to take it to work.
She absolutely has no idea why she couldn’t call her mother while living in his home on Route de Pourville. Nicole tried to get through to her husband, but he was not in the mood for the conversations she wanted: “It would be better to say something funny, but that’s all again politics, culture, and your past family and childhood again.”
Bernarda, her grandmother, was prone to apocalyptic comments:
“Listen, Nicko, once, my grandmother once told me: ‘the whole world will light up, and people will see a volcanic flame instead of the sky, and everything will become hot. They will expire, and then everything will go out’.” Nicole didn’t know why, but her mother didn’t want to listen to her apocalyptic comments: “Mom, stop it now. Unpleasant to hear at the table.”
Nicko herself, if her opinion did mean anything to mom, would say that it would be better to discuss religion than to listen to their verbal flow of profanity.
About six years old, Nicko heard the first obscene expressions. This was not even from her father, but from her stepfather, who gave her a younger sister. He got drunk once the day, he came home and started talking in his sleep. Nicole repeated this for a while; it seemed funny to her children’s head.
And it’s interesting that Margeaux didn’t react to this. Well, the child swears and swears, it’s just at their home. Her mom swore not less. She didn’t even hide it. Margeaux said to Nicko various things. “Why did you spill it on yourself? This is some kind of shit.” “Learn to eat better. You’re remaining trash too much.”
She didn’t like any crumbs at all. It’s advisable to eat so that they aren’t on the table, and most of all the character of the mother resembled choleric.
As a child, Nicko often wanted to understand who was right in these conflicts. Her stepfather has his own version. Her mother has another version. Often she came to the conclusion that all conflicts occur not so much due to her stepfather, but due to of the “police” nature of her mother. She began millions of conflicts almost from scratch. The second time the update of  Nicko’s French obscene dictionary occurred due to falling into a poison control hospital at eleven years old.
When she lay in the ward with adolescents older than herself for several years, as a rule (there were almost no direct peers of hers), Nicko was surprised how almost anything could be expressed using a small set of obscene words. Pain, aggression, resentment, hatred. There was some thirteen-year girl, black, like the Afro-Americans. Her name was Carla. She didn’t say her last name.
Perhaps she comes from India or the Arab region. From her stories, flavoured with the French profanities almost every word, Nicole understood little at that time. But later she decided that she apparently had been raped by her father or stepfather. Nicole’s stepfather was not so good; however, he didn’t resort to the sexual abuse of his step-daughter. Carla often argued for Nicole in front of the rest of the hospital room’s inhabitants. Nicole understood that she was not evil despite her communication’s style. She just uses society’s language where she is living.
Carla understood that Nicole was learning German, and Carla herself, not a foreigner, was hardly fluent in French and wished her good luck. When Gratte studied, she tried not to do something Carla would regret, although Carla had no idea where Nicole was, how she lived. They have never met. Nicko was moderately religious, without fanaticism.
Nicole was only eleven years old when she had this experience. Further, no criticism of profanity, not one type of religiosity could convince her of the correctness of what she saw with her own eyes. For most, Carla was some dysfunctional French immigrant with a dubious future; no one, including teachers, saw any prospects. Nicko saw a strong character in Carla. And no matter what language she speaks. Nicko retained the religiosity of Bernarda. (Nicole was once baptized immediately after her birth as a Catholic, and it’s possible that such a decision was made before her birth.) It still does not affect the type of spoken language.
Bernarda, by the way, also cursed, but a lick of work. Although Nicole thinks that in many ways she made her conclusions after meeting Carla, and would have come to them, even if she had not known Bernarda as her maternal grandmother.
She tried to tell this story several times. But she understood, suddenly, only her mother, Margaux. Not at that time when she was a child, and “perhaps someone said to her” (after ten years, children can already have their own point of view). At that time she grew up and mom at least began to perceive her as a person, albeit with her own character.
Nicole believed: it’s better to swear and admit it than swear and not admit. People who don’t swear practically do not exist.
On the other hand, she had the far greater condemnation of people who swear at everyone. They don’t take into account the context of the situation, seek to show all their emotions at all, and even consider themselves so-called Catholics and Christians. It’s clear that some people cannot keep control over their emotions in certain situations, but why always go on about emotions?
For example, she knew one person at a forum from the Netherlands under the nickname Nimph, with whom she spoke in French. He considers himself a Catholic and a Christian, and he is an amateur of swearing and trolling through the Internet. On weekdays, he trolls and swears, and on Sunday he goes to confession—quite a Christian.
Gratte considered such people to be crap. They distort Catholicism, Christianity as such, and the role of the swearing in religion. Many people are beginning to believe that swearing and religion are incompatible. The most of all among real Catholics are only hypocrites who don’t notice obvious things.
The task of religion, in her opinion, is to make people honest with themselves, not to deceive themselves, but also to admit their failures. It would be absolutely foolish to practice any religion just so that it will forgive anyone any trolling. How does this position differ from atheism? Formal religiosity practising, is not it?
Perfectionism is a big topic; that the same perfectionism causes suicide as well as it can lead to perfection. No one knows how the same character feature can lead people to opposite sides. Nicole Gratte’s perfectionism led her to make her better, not absolute, but through a rather cruel variety of mistakes.

Submitted: May 13, 2019

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