Phantasy in D
By Mark Head.
It was Spring.
And since it was not raining in Normandie at the time, Andre Limoné and his family of
one wife, one mistress (the au pair), and four young children decided to go to the
beach for a picnic.
Once at the beach, this happy menagerie of suntan worshippers settled down onto
towels spread out over rock-smoothness. Sand, being scarce in this particular area,
supplied just enough comfort for the scantily clad and the rocks took up the rest of
Everyone being uncomfortably settled, the children exercised their unrest by getting
undressed into naked swimwear and ran off laughing into the shallows.
André looked at his wife. She nodded significantly and a packet of matches emerged
from her handbag.
Having enjoyed a Gauloise liberally flavoured with Beaujolais, André and his wife
decided to drift away into the sandless dunes. The au pair, about to become Madame
Trésbitchy, though André did not know it yet and would later be sorely pressed for
confort by her permanent absence for a husband of one of her dreams, lay gently
reclining in the afternoon sunshine grinding her fine teeth like a grand jury passing
judgement as she watched them disappear.
A certain length of time later André was closely observed emerging from the sandless
dunes tightening his trouser suspenders, followed closely by his wife, who was also
observed putting herself together, and guiltily nice they both looked at it too.
On arrival back at the beach camping spot, the pair sat down onto their respective
The au pair, whose name was Desiré even though she was English, smiled sweetly
at André when his eyes eventually met hers, her idle fingers clawing the fine sand
about her very thoughtfully indeed. Desiré arched an eyebrow at Madame Limoné,
who equally archly arrowed her return, and said
“Café madame…………aprés cigarette?”
The climate being somewhat warmed by this remark, a tension of agreement was
reached after some hesitation and the three adults calmly remained agitatedly seated
enjoying the tea and coffee and cucumber sandwiches that Desiré had made earlier. The Limoné’s mutual smiles of cross cultural appreciation helped the mini meal go down;
Madame Limoné thought of sea cucumber, a dish that she particularly liked, while her
husband thought of bêche-de-mer, a dish that he particularly liked. Desiré, who did
not particularly care for cucumber of any persuasion, disposed of her sandwiches in
the fine sand about her and buried them deep.
“Madame Limoné…………” Desiré began. “Would you….”
“Call moi Jillet, Desiré cherie. You once more move aupitain then I…….” Her poor
English emphasised more than adequately what her supple fingers said in delicate
gesture beyond range of speech and hearing.
“I do not understand……. Jillet” Desiré said, deliberately awkward in pronunciation of her name.
Jillet held out her hand in admonition, but Desiré, deliberately mistaking this gesture
for what it was, took Jillet’s housework worn hand in hers, and after looking at it for a
moment, smiled, released her grasp and then gazed down at both her palms
together, slowly massaging her fingertips in thin disguised comparison.
Jillet snatched her hand away as politely as a hot temperament would allow.
Moments later a teapot appeared and suddenly yelps of emotional appreciation were
heard emanating from a by now fully recumbent André Limoné.
Some hot tea had been spilt very accidentally over his only covered portion.
He was now wearing a swimming costume.
Feminine hands mutually soothed the burnt portion while sounds of “Tsk tsk what a
terrible thing to happen” tusked its way about in the undergrowth of motherly and
Finally, Andre, realizing retreat was necessary to avoid further embarrassment, said
that he wished to expose his tea burnt anatomy to the cooling mercy of the seven
seas, and walked unsteadily away towards the water’s edge after bidding a subdued adieu to the two ladies. Once at the water’s edge, André paused, his imagination recounting the probable conversation following his not untimely departure. The two women, engaged in animated discussion with much hand gesticulation, momentarily glanced up when they heard Andre splashdive into the sea.
Later, and floating fully out of range of feminine ire, Andre considered his situation,
and being unable by virtue of weakness to come to any decision, decided that the
only course to take was that of least resistance.
His wife, of course, knew this only too well.
It was not only André’s delicate marital statement that required thought either. Neither
woman realised that as chief automobile streamline designer for an innovative car
manufacturer, his position of authority was constantly being threatened by the shape
of things to come.
André floated towards the shoreline. When his feet touched bottom he half swam, half
waded to the shore.
Walking along the beach, he suddenly found himself standing by a pool. The rocky
outcrop alongside it looked invitingly flat to park upon. André sat down, and after
carefully manoeuvring his posterior to avoid the gillette edges of limpet shells, idly
studied the clear waters while his toes bulldozed the sandy bottom of the pool.
Two wide apart eyes began following the to and fro movements of his toes with
attentive indifference. Unknowingly, André moved his toes closer to where the stalked
eyes lurked underneath a small rock ledge.
The eyes vanished.
A moment later two crabbed pincers made a darting appearance and left stinging
remarks on his left big toe. André’s feet left the water in a splashing hurry.
Territorial boundaries re-established, André left his feet out of the situation they had
been in and watched to see what would happen next. After a while the stalked eyes
reappeared, and finally the rest of the crustacean. Beautifully armoured in strong yet
fragile lines, the long legs of the sand crab walked its saucerish shape sideways, the
headlights of its eyes moving from one side to the other in search of the way to go.
It could see around corners.
On the earth, yet not on earth. Floating, yet solid on the ground, and then it was he
thought of floating power.
Deemodelle, his youngest daughter, suddenly appeared in the corner of his reverie.
Without thinking he picked her up in his arms.
“What are you doing papa?” she asked, settling herself comfortably on his knees.
“Eh? What did you say?”
“What are you doing?”
“I’m designing a motor car.” he said, pointing a finger downwards to the pool.
“Car? There’s no car there!”
Doubtfully, Deemodelle looked down, following the line of sight of his extended
forefinger and afer a minute or so of intense peering, finally saw the crab.
“There is no car there. Only a crab!”
“See the way it moves” Andre said. “Look!”
“It’s got eyes on stalks! Motor car eyes don’t have that!”
“Deemodelle, the motor car that I will build will have eyes that see around corners and
it will float along the ground like that crab does under the water. I will name it after
you. How would you like that, eh?”
André kissed his daughter and then overbalanced, for all his other children had just
run up to him to claim all of his attention.
On arrival back at the picnic site with the children, André , who had been carrying
Deemodelle, carefully put her down; and cautiouslyy looking at Jillet and Desiré,
regretfully entered into polite adult conversation once again.
Jillet handed him a cup of deliberately oversweetened tea. With a smile.
Desiré, in the meantime, packed neatly away with her attitude in one place and few possessions in a large beach carry all right tight beside her, distanced herself away from the group and seemed indifferent and ready to leave at any time.
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