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  • A Scene Played on the Stage of MemoryA One-act Play
  • Charlotte Delbo (bio) and
    Translated from French by Cynthia Haft

characters

FRANCINE, 25 years oldPAUL, 27 years old

FRANCINE (Alone)I told himoh! how beautiful you areHe was beautiful in death at each second ever more clearly outlined.

It is true that death makes one beautiful.Have you noticedhow the dead arethese dayshow young and muscularthe cadavers are this year.Deathrejuvenates every daythis yearA boy barely nineteen the other day.I know there is nothing like itto make a living man more beautifulto bring back the face of childhood.He was beautiful in deatheach second more beautifuldeath was going to place itself upon himto jilt his smile [End Page 11] his eyeshis hearthis heart furiously beatingfuriously living.All the more horrible that he was beautifulall the more horrible that they areyounger and more beautifulalllying side by sidebeautiful for eternityand fraternalside by sidewhen men are reaped like cornthe corn in its season grain ripeman in his seasonin the summer of revoltwhen they lay down the men like ears of cornface opposite steelchest openchest bursting open heart gapingthose who chose.

That was what made him so beautifulto have chosenchosen his life, chosen his deathand to have looked straight ahead.

setting:

PAUL'S cell at the prison of the Santé, the 23rd of May 1942, just before daybreak. The scene is acted very precisely: nothing is vague in FRANCINE'S memory. The door of the cell is open, a soldier is standing guard. Noise of boots: noise of approaching steps. FRANCINE is surrounded by two German soldiers. She stops on the threshold. PAUL, standing up, leaning against the wall, straightens up as FRANCINE approaches. FRANCINE takes a step toward PAUL and stops. The two soldiers who accompanied her disappear. The one who is standing outside the door of the cell does not budge, his back to the audience. The noise of the boots moves further and further away down the corridor. [End Page 12]

PAUL (Still immobile)

Francine…

FRANCINE

Paul

PAUL

Francine

FRANCINE

Paul

PAUL

I waited for you without believing. It's you …

FRANCINE (Taking a step toward him)

Yes, Paul. Me.

PAUL

I was waiting for you. Without believing it could be true. I dreamed so much of you that I'm not sure yet.

FRANCINE

It's me, Paul.

He takes a step toward her, hesitatingly, as if he did not dare to approach her, as if he did not dare to touch her.

Paul.

PAUL

Oh Francine…

He finally moves toward her. She has her arms outstretched toward him; he takes her arms under the elbows and looks at her.

I did recognize your walk. Is it really you? [End Page 13]

FRANCINE

Yes, Paul. It's me. Francine. Your Francine.

PAUL

You're here.

A smile of happiness lights upon his face; he holds her a bit away from the ends of his arms to see her.

FRANCINE

Paul? What? … What is …

PAUL (Softly, lowering his head a little)

They told us we were hostages.

FRANCINE (As soon as she can talk)

When?

PAUL

Yesterday, in the evening.

FRANCINE

When?

PAUL

This morning. It's for this morning, soon.

FRANCINE

Oh Paul.

PAUL

Francine, you knew, didn't you? You knew from the first day, since we were caught?

FRANCINE

Yes, Paul. One thinks one knows. This morning … soon …

PAUL

They told me you were in the same prison. [End Page 14]

FRANCINE

Yes, since the beginning.

PAUL

Where are you?

FRANCINE

I couldn't explain it. The corridors turn and twist. They're very long.—I see you …

PAUL

Last night, they asked us if we had a last wish. We asked to say goodbye to you. They promised. They said they would grant us that because we were courageous soldiers. What a tribute … (He smiles almost mockingly)

None of us dared to believe it. But I hoped. I hoped all night. I awaited daybreak and I dreaded...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2330-0485
Print ISSN
0025-4878
Pages
pp. 11-28
Launched on MUSE
2018-03-23
Open Access
No
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