His career was at its peak. Everything was going well. Really, everything was going great. Life was smiling at him. Everything was on track. At last. He had long hoped to become famous. And then one of his songs had suddenly become more famous than the others, making him a star, one of the greatest. His fans loved him, his songs were successful. He was invited to all the fancy parties. He knew all the celebrities who were on the rise at the time. He was constantly receiving gifts, letters, emails from fans. But then, what was wrong? At first glance, nothing. But he felt bad, in a way. He didn’t really know what was bothering him, but he cared enough to have his loved ones start noticing it. 

The pinnacle of a career was normally what every artist wanted. But he didn’t feel that way now that he had reached that point. Had everything become too easy? Too golden? Was he bored, after having wished for it for a long time? Did he finally not want this life anymore? Had he reached the peak of his career, a place envied by many artists, only to tell himself that finally it wasn’t for him? In the end, it was perhaps a weariness that had fallen on him. By the time he got there, he had gotten a little older, and the crazy schedules of an artist’s life were becoming a little difficult to manage. Constantly on the move, lost between time differences, always sleeping in a corner of the bus, he had perhaps lost his way. 
And so, at the height of his career, he decided to take a break to reflect, to refocus on himself, to decide what he really wanted. Because no one else could have known that. 

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The forbidden room

French version : La pièce interdite

It had always been closed, ever since she was a little girl. What was in it, she didn’t know. No one had entered it for years, judging by the dust that covered the carpet in front of the door and the door itself. This room was a real mystery to her. Nobody ever talked about it, it was as if it didn’t exist, as if it had never existed. Yet the door was very real, she was certain of it. She had tried to touch it one day. But her father had almost caught her doing it, and she had never tried again. This room was a huge taboo in the family. No one ever referred to it, but she knew how they all felt about it. There was something wrong with this room. Its aura was wrong.
After her parents died, many years later, she visited her childhood home again. She had been away from it for a long time and now had her family next door, but she remembered the forbidden room and now that she owned the house, she could go and see what was in it without her father catching her. She went upstairs, determined to unravel the secret of the mystery room. She tried all the keys she had, but none of them opened the door. She asked a locksmith to intervene. He had to break the door down because the lock was rusty.
Finally, she was able to get in. There, in the room, she discovered a crib, a mobile, various toys… A complete children’s room, that is. But full of dust. And a newspaper article about the tragic death of a three-year-old boy. She’d had a brother who had died too soon.
This room was frozen in time…

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The stairs

French version : L’escalier

It was a staircase. A simple staircase. Then why was it so special? Probably because hundreds of people came through here. Many lives had been lived there. A lot of people had just passed by, just for a second, before going to work. In all the time this building had been around, there must have been hundreds. Thousands, maybe. Who can tell? Whole families had probably lived there. The children would come down those stairs every time they went to school, or maybe when they went to meet their friends, to get bread or to shop for their mother. Their little feet probably echoed down the stairwell, filling this dreary, sad place with life, which was in great need of it. For what happened to the stairs when no one was getting upstairs because of them? Well, it’s simple, nobody went up, it was a deserted and totally abandoned place, a bit like it is today. An empty staircase. Empty of sound, empty of the laughter of the children going to meet their little friends in the courtyard at the bottom of the stairs. And these steps, so often cleaned to be dirtied again immediately afterwards when the children went back home, their shoes full of mud because they had played in the muddy puddles. But that was all in the past. 

The children hadn’t been running up the stairs for a long time. The place was empty, terribly empty. This staircase had seen children grow over time. First he had heard the cries of a newborn baby. Then the sound of his mother’s footsteps trying to calm him down before he began to disturb the neighbors.The father who was leaving for work and who at that time still had all his hair. Afterwards, he had seen a toddler venturing near him, intrigued by this strange construction going down composed of different levels. But the parents had prevented the child from coming too close, for fear that he would upset his balance and fall. For he hadn’t been able to walk for a very long time, and he was still twitching a little on his little legs. The stairs had been sad, it would have liked to see the child more closely, this little human being. Later he had felt the little steps of the child on him. He was stable enough on his legs that the parents let him go down the stairs. But he was always accompanied by one of his parents. Because they didn’t want him to hurt himself if he fell. So they would come with him, take him to the bottom of the stairs and leave him with his friends. Then they would go back up and pick him up again after an hour or two. 

Later, the stairs had seen the little boy come down the stairs by himself. He was growing up fast. Every morning he would leave. Probably to school. The stairs had heard his mother talking to her neighbour on the landing about her anxieties about her son’s first day at school. The staircase didn’t know what it was all about, but it must have helped the boy grow up, because he was reaching the banister now. He was going down and up with much more ease. Then time passed so quickly that the staircase hardly saw him grow up. Now he was a handsome young man. He hadn’t been back for years. The staircase had not understood what had happened. Overnight, the boy had stopped climbing the stairs to get to his house. And he had come back years later. He was a man now. And then he moved in in his parents’ apartment, who had died in the meantime. And children had started running up the stairs again. But that was a long time ago. Now the stairs were empty and probably always would be: the building was going to be demolished. The stairs would never again hear the footsteps of the children. Never again. He wouldn’t have a family to watch anymore. 
Never again. It was all over. It was over forever. He’d be demolished. 

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In his hands

French version : Entre ses mains

That day, he was wandering around the woods aimlessly. It was a habit of his. He loved to do that. He found that nature was best discovered without having a particular plan in mind, without knowing where you were going. The best way to visit a place was to get lost in it, as someone whose name escaped him had said. It was actually much more fun to discover places a bit randomly, going from one surprise to another. 

So he walked in the wilderness and took his time. Such a walk was worth its weight in gold to him. Some others, who obviously didn’t agree with him, often reproached him for disappearing for long periods of time, sometimes from sunrise to sunset. During the day, he wandered around in the wilderness, marvelling at each new find. That’s how he was. He loved nature and would have lived there full time if he had not had to work for a living. For to spend all day walking around wouldn’t have fed him. And then apparently keeping in touch with other humans was better, someone once told him. He still couldn’t remember who that person was. For him, plants were more important than humans. According to him, they were the most tenacious living beings on the planet, since they had managed to stay on earth longer than some species (aka the dinosaurs). 

So that day, he was walking around as usual when he saw it. Something that stood out well on the green of the leaves and the grass. Something that might not have come from nature. To tell the truth, he wasn’t sure. He bent down to examine the object that had caught his attention. But what was it? He’d never seen anything like it before. At least not in nature. Come to think of it, nowhere else but here. Was it something unique in the world? He took it in his hand, a little hesitant. What if it was a new form of bomb or grenade? What if that thing exploded in his face? In any case, for the moment, none of this had happened, which reassured him a lot. He took a closer look at him. 

It was some kind of glass ball or maybe a crystal ball. A rather fragile material, it seemed, in any case. He turned it in his hand. This object looked very familiar to him, but what? He searched for a moment, but couldn’t find it. How amusing! This object vaguely reminded him of a snow globe. Suddenly he almost dropped it, and caught it in extremis. At that moment, the earth beneath his feet shook. Slightly enough, but enough to make him wonder if an earthquake was coming. The ball slipped out of his hands again and he barely saved her again, but not without shaking. The earth shook much more violently this time. As soon as it calmed down, he started to run, still with the ball in his hand. He wanted to go home to see if it was a real earthquake. 

When he got home, he turned on the television. The journalist announced that the earthquake was happening all over the world and that no one among the eminent scientists knew what was causing such chaos. And then it had been so sudden! No one understood. He looked at the ball again. He shook it slightly. A strange idea had formed without his mind, but it was so crazy that he didn’t dare to think about it. The earth shook again as he did so, and his china cabinet fell to the ground in an abominable clatter of dishes and broken windows. Amazed, he felt dizzy. This object was not just an object! It was in fact a living representation of the planet Earth! It didn’t look like Earth, it WAS Earth. And it was him that caused all those tremors all over the world.

The current tremor made him lose his balance, and he let go of the ball. 

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A new era?

French version : Une nouvelle ère ?

It wasn’t an end. It was the beginning of a story. But what kind of story? Would it be grand, insignificant? He didn’t know. It was far too early to tell. He’d find out later. Much later. When he’d lived through at least one chapter of it. Or maybe we could say he was starting a new chapter in his life. He’d embarked on it without even knowing what he was getting into. It was brave, though a little stupid. Yes, a clever mix of the two. The danger made it risky, the possibility of a new beginning made it positive. Who knew it was so easy to start a new chapter? If he’d known before, he would have done it much sooner. But that was the problem. In making that choice, the future was uncertain. Very uncertain. Mystery could bring excitement, but what it was hiding could also be a great disappointment. 
He played dice with his life, that’s what he did. He was putting himself in the hands of fate. He wanted to start afresh, in a new city, a new country, maybe. It would be a matter of chance. Who was he going to run into? Would it be someone good? He wouldn’t know until he met that person. Would chance do it right? Luck would probably have a lot to do with it. 
He’d really left everything behind. His home, his job, his routine. His family? He wasn’t particularly close to them, so to him, it was like he didn’t have any. He’d go off on his own, with a backpack and a slightly shabby hooded jacket for all his luggage. It was very risky to do that, and he knew it. He wasn’t sure why he was doing it, but he knew he had to do it. 
The sound of a horn violently dragged him from his thoughts. He saw that a car had stopped next to him and that the driver was trying to get his attention. The driver shouted:
– Hey, kid! What are you doing in the middle of the road? You’re causing a traffic jam and I’m going to be late for work! Go play somewhere else and go to school while you’re at it! I hear the bell ringing, hurry up! 
The child, frozen and surprised to have been taken out of his imaginary game so suddenly, ran off to his school, not wanting to be late again. He had already been punished several times for the same reason and was tired of having to copy lines. It wasn’t his fault that his imagination was overflowing! 

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French version : Cinéma

The light’s out. Everything is dark. All you can see is the screen, which, right in the centre of the wall, shines brightly. The night lights on the ceiling were on. Now everything is dark. The room has taken on a different appearance, now that it is no longer lit as it was before. Darkness has invaded the room. But maybe not. Not completely. The screen still provides light, but it wouldn’t be enough to read a book. But anyway, who would want to read a book in a movie theater? Who would be strange enough to read when the movie is about to start? All those people in the theater. They came to see the movie, not to do anything else. It’s like someone going into a library and saying, « No, I came here to watch a movie on my computer. I don’t want to read » when it’s still a place full of books. Or a person might come to the gym and say, « I came here to take a little nap »…

In that case, why move? Why bother coming to this place if it’s not for sport? It’s the same principle with books in cinemas. There would be no point in reading when you’ve paid for a ticket to see a movie. Let’s go back to the theatre. The movie has just started. People are getting a little deeper into their seats. They can find a comfortable position, they know they’re there for at least two hours. So some of them shake a little more in their armchairs before they stop and stare at the glittering screen. The screen is really shiny! You could almost light up a street at night with it! But at the same time, it’s normal that it’s so bright, since it’s so dark, in this room! It could almost be scary.

But that can also be a positive point, because you can concentrate better on the film that is projected on the screen if the room is dark. The walls are probably soundproofed or something like that. Otherwise you would hear the sounds of other films as you walk down the corridor of the cinema. But in the end, these corridors, they’re not used for much purpose. That must be why they put up the upcoming films there. You never pay attention, but one of the films on the walls might be the reason why you come back the next time. Because without realizing it, the poster of that film pleased us and got stuck in our heads. And when we see that same poster several months later, we might want to go and see it, or at least we’ll be familiar with it. In the theatre, the film has just started. We’re at the first lines. They’re fun.

Everybody’s laughing. Well, maybe not. Everyone except for the boy sitting in the back pouting. His friends couldn’t go to the movie with him. He’s all alone and he’s determined to stay in his corner, not to laugh with the others.
The film continues. One of the elderly ladies sitting in the front row seems sad, too. She couldn’t take her little dog with her because pets are not allowed. The film makes her laugh, she gets a bit of a kick out of it. She knows she will find her little companion after the session. The woman sitting in the third row on the left tries to relax. She had been working too hard lately and was almost burnt out. Her friends advised her to take care of herself and rest. So she chose this funny, all-audience film. She laughs heartily when she sees a busy worker coming on the screen.

The old bearded man sitting on the right side laughs too. He has taken his grandson to the cinema to show him what it’s like. The little boy is four years old and has never seen a movie on the big screen. The grandfather is proud and happy to show him this. As for the man sitting in the middle of the room, he is staring at the screen with concentration. He loves to go to the cinema and once he is there, he savours the moment. The film goes on and soon it’s over. The last line is given and the end of the film is shown.

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French version : Inoffensive

She had put it back in the closet this morning. Then why was it back on the couch? It was really strange. How did it get there? How ?!

She questioned the cook, who said she hadn’t moved it, or even seen it. But she had been in that room several times during the day, and it wasn’t there. 

She accompanied her into the living room, and to her surprise, it was no longer there. The cook told her that she was working too hard, she was going a little crazy, completing too many papers all day long. It was certainly not good for her health. 

She apologized to the cook, since they were the only ones living here, there was no way anyone else could have moved it in the meantime. She looked back through the living room door and was horrified by what she saw. 
The doll was there, sitting on the couch as it had been before the stove arrived, leaning against a cushion. She screamed. The cook came to see what was going on, and found the lady she was working for frozen in terror, motionless in the living room, hiding her eyes from her hands. 

She asked her what was happening to her, and she pointed to the sofa with a trembling hand. But the cook saw nothing special. She told her, and the lady opened her eyes again, amazed to see that the doll had disappeared. She took a deep breath, thanking the cook for coming, and then she went up to her room. 

She seriously wondered if she had gone mad. This doll had belonged to her mother, she usually kept it in a closet in the attic. But there it had been on the couch when no one seemed to have taken it down. How could that happen? 
She’s thinking on her way up the stairs. She was going to eat, sleep, and tomorrow it would get better. It was Halloween night, her brain must have been playing tricks on her. 

When she went into her room, she was so scared, she dropped her purse. There, on the bed, sat the doll. She was turned towards it, smiling out of her cloth mouth. 

She had to lean against the door so she wouldn’t faint. Then she decided to pull herself together. It was only a doll, after all. She grabbed it, went up the stairs to the attic and put it into the first cupboard she saw, angry. She certainly wasn’t going to be afraid of a toy. 

The meal went quietly, and she invited the cook to eat there, as she often did because they were the only inhabitants of the house. 

When it was time for bed, she wanted the cook to come and sleep with her in her room, because this story had really frightened her. She offered her one side of the bed, because her bed was huge. The cook agreed because she could see that she was terrified. 

They fell asleep side by side, one being more reassured by the presence of the other. Suddenly the cook woke up. She didn’t really know what had brought her out of her sleep, but she heard a scream when she turned to the owner of the house. She realized that it was hers, for she had just seen the lady of the house dead with the doll on her stomach, looking at her with her sewn smile. No one ever saw the lady or the cook again, and the house soon fell into ruins. When someone finally had the courage to go in, he found no trace of the two women, just a doll sitting on the sofa with a tea set next to it…

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French version : Abîme

Underneath, the water. Above, the sky. On either side, the mountains, huge and intoxicating. The sky reflected in the water. The mountains standing on tiptoes, vainly trying to reach the sky. The water flowing peacefully, looking up at the sky. A whole world in a few parts. And there it was, at the very edge of the ledge, breathing in the surrounding air. And she danced and she laughed and she laughed and she laughed. And she was shouting her head off. And she just lived. In harmony with nature. Just as nature was in osmosis… Water with the sky. The sky with the water. A bond working both ways. Not just one or the other. No. Both. Both. Sky and water. Water and sky. Mountains and sky. And she who lived in the middle. Some clouds near the mountains. White, white as snow. But the snow isn’t there yet. When will it be here? One day, maybe. But not today. The snow will still be waiting. This isn’t the time for that. For now, the clouds float silently over the mountains, mountains so high they could almost reach the sky on tiptoe. Can they? Can they? Have they ever tried? Maybe it’s possible, after all. It is often said that skyscrapers touch the sky. It’s even said quite often. But does that mean it’s true? It doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t always have to be. Could something on earth be big enough to touch the sky? These mountains, perhaps. These mountains, always trying and trying but never succeeding. But are they that high, if they can’t touch the sky, even with their fingertips? Maybe they can’t. Maybe those mountains so high are just too small to reach the sky. 

But they’re still higher than the one dancing on the ledge, aren’t they? Then they’re still quite high. But not high enough. And is she, dancing on the ledge, high enough to touch that sky, which seems so high that no one can really reach it, not even the highest mountains on earth? Probably not alone, she couldn’t. But maybe by climbing up the mountain, by going all the way up, by climbing up the flanks of this immense creation of nature, she will be able to try. Once she gets to the top, she’ll lift a finger to the sky, and maybe she’ll touch it. Maybe she can. But then she would have to try to climb all the way up there, up the side of the mountain. Maybe she’ll go. When she’s done dancing, laughing, and shouting… Someday… Someday. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe a week from now. But what’s a week to nature? It doesn’t care about the weather. And in the meantime, the water goes on its way. It goes further and further, faster and faster down the slope. And it looks at the sky, trying to touch it too. She doesn’t despair. Will she succeed? It is yet the lowest element in this landscape.

But it’s also the most determined. The most determined to touch the sky despite her position in nature. The clouds could also touch the sky. But they’re too busy arguing with the mountain on tiptoe to try to reach the blue vastness. And she’s still dancing, to music carried by the wind. Only she hears it. Her and the mountain, the water and the clouds. The sky is far too high to hear her. But the mountain tells what it has heard, and it can enjoy it too. The music never stops. She twirls, goes down to the water that always wants to reach the sky, its father. The music continues on its way, brushing against the mountain that helps him to reach the sky. The sun is there, too. It has just woken up. The music has brought it out of its dream. It rubs its eyes, still asleep. It wonders why nature is so restless. 

The mountain is trying to reach the sky, the water is looking up at the sky, smiling, promising that it will join it one day, the clouds are dreaming in the middle of it all and she keeps dancing, tirelessly. The sun stretches out and goes back to sleep, reluctant to try to understand what is happening to them. Anyway, it went to bed late the night before, and it’s tired now. And the landscape goes back to what it was before. The mountains grow bigger and bigger in the hope of reaching the blue vastness above them, the clouds float above them, the water flows peacefully as it tries to reach the sky, and it laughs, sputters, dances, screams. The sky sees the water. The water sees the sky. They look at each other.

Then the rain starts to fall. It’s all right. It’s all right. It’s all right. Water can reach the sky. Rainwater floods the mountains, and they’re tired of standing on their toes. She’s still dancing, still screaming, still sputtering, still screaming under this deluge of water that sticks her hair to her cheeks. She is alive, quite simply. And the water continues to flow, feeling the rain falling, happy that the sky has come.

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It’s a rock

French version : C’est un roc

She was alone on that beach. Everyone was gone. They sensed something bad was about to happen. But not her. She’d always been unconscious. Innocent. Maybe even a little foolish around the edges. But only when it suited her.

Still, she should have known by now. She should have felt it. Like all those people who were in such a hurry to get as far away from that beach as possible. This beach, which had once been a place of relaxation, this beach that had been the scene of their summer games. This beach that they had always known like this. It was one of the few things in their lives that did not change. That didn’t want to change. Or didn’t dare to. Which was quite different, because in one case it was courage, and in the other it was cowardice.  Two very different things, separated by a huge gap. 

In any case, the people had fled from this beach that had once seemed wonderful, magical and mysterious to them.  They were fleeing the place where they had spent so many summers as children. They were gone now.  Maybe they didn’t like it so much, this place after all. They hadn’t grown attached to it, despite the years they’d spent there. How could such a…
Can such veneration, such admiration, evaporate like water in the sun? How can a person change his mind like that, so abruptly? Today she was the only one left. Only her. Only her.  The only person on this totally deserted beach. Deserted by all those ungrateful people, because it had allowed them to have a good time, this beach. Very good times, even.  Some of them lived there practically all summer long, on that beach! Or rather they had lived there.  You had to say it in the past tense.  They wouldn’t be coming back anytime soon.  They had run away in a hurry, and they weren’t coming back.

And so there she was, on that beach that had seen so many people pass by, but she was alone. Motionless, lonely, brave, determined, her nose to the wind, her hair in a mess, she was holding on. She stood there while everyone else had run away. She was a rock, she didn’t give up, tossed by the winds, shaken like a salad basket. Tenacious. Fighting against forces far more powerful than herself, a mere human. Fighting, fighting, fighting. She withstood the pressure of the elements.  Facing it.

Facing the giant of nature. There in front of her, advancing furiously at the speed of a galloping horse, stood a huge roaring wave. She spread her arms, closed her eyes and waited for the shock. Nature sweeping over men. A straw in the middle of the storm. The great powers of the elements were at work, who was she to stop them? The collision would not be long in coming. And then it would vibrate in unison with nature…

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By night

French version : By night

Not a sound. No one at the horizon. A perfect time for a little late-night stroll around town. That feeling of freedom being outside at a time when no one’s out. At a time when everyone’s asleep. Everyone? Well, maybe not everyone. Only a privileged few have the honor of contemplating this limitless realm that is the night. A city at night is nothing like a city by day. This difference varies from city to city, but in general, the feeling of being at the centre of the world, of being able to live life to the fullest, that guilty joy of being outside while others sleep is common. 
Those stairs where the children played so much. Those old stairs that have been damaged by time. They look completely different at night. They regain their youth, their beauty of yesteryear. Because at night, all cats are grey. That goes for many other things too. 

The street lamps are lit at night. They are the only visible source of light. If you don’t count the possible small lights coming from apartments or houses that are not yet asleep at this hour. The houses are now unattractive, unsightly and almost frightening masses. By day, they are at the cutting edge of fashion. By night they are gloomy. Night makes them dark and silent, as if they were abandoned. But they are not, because they are full of life during the day. The few passers-by hurry home, for although the walk is pleasant, it is better not to be too long. You never know. Although the night has never (you never know) eaten anyone yet, it is better to avoid staying too much outside after sunset. 
But those who return home cannot enjoy the peace and quiet of places deserted by humans. In the houses, the eyes are closed and will only reopen the next morning. What a pity to have missed the world of the night! 

The footsteps on the cobblestones have stopped, the running on the stairs and the laughter of the children too. Everything is quiet now. The cars are getting scarcer. The gravel is resting after screaming under the feet of passers-by all day long. The lampposts are back in service, they who used to sleep soundly during the day. One drop falls from the sky, then two, then three. Little by little, the ground gets wet. Eventually the rain comes down and a thousand drops splash the sleeping world. Their fall can be heard and resounds in the comfortable silence created by the darkness. All the little noises come out even more in the darkness. 

The rain redoubles, quickly giving way to the storm. In the houses, everyone curls up under their duvet, happy not to be out there in the pouring rain. 

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