Sunday, December 30, 2012

Excerpt: Rites by Sophie Coulombeau



When I was seventeen, my English teacher - who was about to leave the school for a new job - beckoned me over in the pub.  He was half-cut and overexcited, and he wore the blunderbuss shine of a man poised upon the precipice of liberation.  

Day, he said, flecks of spit around his lips, May as well ask it before I go. Did you do it?

Did I do what, Sir? said I, although I knew immediately what he meant.

Well, did you do it?  You know! The thing.  The thing, back in the day.

I looked at him.  His eyes flickered back and forth, and he stilled a little, and a sort of intensity settled over the group in the pub.  I'd never liked him, you see, this man.  A buck-toothed weasel with a womanly bottom and an offensively matey facade.  He always struck me, for one thing, as one of those who can only get their kicks from the periphery.  Proud-player of intestine-splattering computer games, who'd never been in a fight.
...
I looked at him, and I saw that he wanted me to have done it; I saw him projecting himself into my youthful place and thinking of the thrill, the titillation, the exquisite wrongdoing of it. 

 I said, No, of course I didn't.  I said that at the time, didn't I? 

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