often disarming and sometimes excessive in her willingness to question
account of the loss of her parents is profoundly moving, and her refusal to
diverts her pain through displacement activity, obsessively researching
then penetrate her. She almost smiles.
Sophie has slipped into a phase of sleep that means he can allow himself a brief
from his vigilance. This time, in the excitement of the moment, the joy of being
he was a little heavy-handed with
minutes later he is driving back along the autoroute, taking care to observe the
The moment she stepped through the door, Sophie was shaken to the core. She
to know Frantz well, but seeing what is in the cellar it is like tumbling
some of the images and study one or two properly before deleting them. He
In the first, Auverney is walking in his garden. Frantz kept this one because
face is clearly visible. For a man of sixty, he is in fine fettle. Square-jawed
never know. Frantz folds his arms, stares at the rain streaking the darkness and
himself for a long wait.
When she was a child, she found nights when there was a storm exhilarating.
the windows wide and inhales the cool air that chil
Mme Sarah Berg was first admitted to a psychiatric unit in September 1982
Pasteur). Her case notes for the period have not been forwarded. From what we
gathered, the admission was made on the instructions of her attending physician
props himself up on one elbow.
You really should get undressed, she says, bustling about.
She plumps the pillows, smoothes the sheets. Frantz gets up and slowly
seems completely worn out. She smiles: You look dead on your feet. Before
hangs up in front of the vent in the airing cupboard. She makes herself a cup of
(unlike coffee, it leaves no odour) and while she waits for it to infuse she
arms, her legs, does a few press-ups to get her blood flowing and gradua
apartment and the way he closed the fridge door, she could tell he was excited,
he who is
usually so calm. She sensed his presence in the doorway. Then he came to the
down and stroked her hair. Despite the fact that it was late, he did not come
plate, checks that Frantz has not moved and then stirs the sleeping tablet into the
Frantz tastes it, looks up at her. The silence makes her uncomfortable.
Its nice, he says, eventually.
He eats the pasta, pauses for a second, then tastes th
identity cards, offering safety advice, emergency numbers for every situation.
gendarme Jondrette looks at Sophie with good-natured detachment. He would
like to have
a wife like this. Sickly. It must make a husband feel useful. His gaze shifts from
Nothing savage, she fell to her knees just long enough for me to take the few
steps to the
table and pick up the kitchen knife. She looked surprised, and terrified,
understandable, it was a lot for her to take in. Dont toss and turn like th
were, at the time, considered effective. The state of the patient upon admission
intensive treatment as the only efficacious preventive. As a result of the
treatment, it was not until July 1987 that it became possible to engage directl
given him? Perhaps she made a mistake. He reaches out, grasps her wrist firmly.
back in the chair. He continues to stare at her, to grip her hard, he has not said a
Then he says, Are you there? She swallows hard. Yes, she whispers. Then,
hear only her heart beating, her temples pounding. She creeps down the steps.
The glow is
coming from one of the cellars to her right. At the far end of the passageway, a
ajar. She does not need to go any further, in fact it would be dangerous
The gendarmes came round.
Sophie did not think of this. The gendarmes. Her face immediately betrays her
Frantz knows how much the real Sophie has to fear from the police. Play his
The clinic had to contact them, obviously, he says, so
her, his whole body seems overcome by fatigue. By the time Sophie has put her
he is asleep.
 By February 1974, Sarah is pregnant again. Given the profound depression
suffered during this period, the pregnancy seems fraught with symbolism
For several days now, thanks to an explosive cocktail of vitamin C, caffeine and
glucuronamide, Sophie has managed to sleep for only a few short hours. Frantz
soundly. Sophie watches him. The man has a determined face and, even in sl
leaves the apartment, carrying a large green rubbish bag.
This is the end. Her movements now are calm, precise, determined. One phase
of her life
is coming to its conclusion. For the last time she looks at the photographs, then
one by one
she rips them
reassures her. She lays her cheek against him and stares at the ground. She can
She relaxes each of her muscles, one by one, and her body gradually melts in
arms. He lifts her up. He carries her into the bedroom and lays her down. She
the sofa where Sophie has left the blanket. He does not say anything. He simply
Would you like something to eat? she says. Do you want me to call a
He shakes his head but she is not sure whether this refers to eating or to the
woods, as close as he dares in other words. A few minutes later, two welcome
greet him when he sees the Auverney house in darkness and hears the first
splatter on the ground. He sets his sports bag at his feet, quickly peels off his
down and fall onto the oilcloth. For two days.
Awkwardly he wipes away his tears, then says, Im sick. His voice is
Maybe its flu? Sophie says.
A foolish thing to say, his tears would hardly be a symptom of flu. But it is so
Paradoxically, it is her own son, her (unwitting) victim, who becomes her
killer, since it is his very existence that acts as the trigger to his mothers death.
Twenty hours later, Frantz wakes up. His eyes are puffy. He has cried a lot in
long, slow breaths and allow his arms to hang limply by his sides.
The boxes are extremely heavy. Each is sealed with a length of packing tape.
turns over the one he is interested in. The bottom is simply glued together. The
blade of a
scans the interior which he has previously seen only through his binoculars: a
table with a low-hanging ceiling lamp, at the far end of the room a hi-fi is set
shelving unit that holds an impressive number of C.D.s. Frantz drags the pi
obscured. But what little he can see roots him to the spot. Frantz sits,
dumbfounded, as he
tries to process the significance of what is on the screen. He is looking at the
case files of
His mothers medical file is in one of those boxes.
table. She replaces the rest in the plastic bag and stows it back in the chute.
Then, as a
precaution, she takes a few steps towards the bedroom. Frantz is still asleep,
quietly. Sophie opens the fridge, takes out the four-pack of Frantzs probioti
Sophie is plastered all over the walls, except for the wall on the right which has
three images. Ten, twenty, thirty prints of the same three images, framed, colour,
white, sepia, retouched, three pictures of the same woman. Sarah Berg
the last moments before an operation when the anaesthetist asks you to count to
On that particular occasion, her strategy failed, but she has a sophisticated
in the right circumstances, all goes well. She has found a way to keep the
distance, a flash of lightning rips across the sky illuminating for a fleeting
At 2.05, Frantz leaves his post, walks slowly along the side of the building and
frame of a small window at head height through which, by t
I believe my wife is supposed to sign something? Frantzs voice interrupts this
oblique conversation and brings them back to earth. Jondrette snorts.
Yes. Right here.
He turns the form around for Sophie. She looks for a pen. Jondrette hands her a
When she is certain that he is asleep, Sophie goes down to the cellar and fetches
notepad containing his diary. She lights a cigarette, sets the book on the kitchen
begins to read. From the first words, everything is there, almost exactly
marked by two suicide attempts, symptoms of a refusal to accept the pregnancy
on the part
of a young woman who sees her unborn child and she is convinced it is a boy
intruder, as unrelated to her, a being she increasingly considers to be wicked,
are still a few minutes remaining of the time she has allowed herself. Just before
leaves, she opens a ruled notepad and begins to read:
May 3, 2000
Ive just seen her for the first time. Her name is Sophie. She was coming out of
apartment block. I