True from False

Translated by Maureen Ranson

For Camille

Leave is such a little word . . . A full word. A suitcase burst wide open on an airport carousel.

His hiking boots leave deep footprints in the dirty snow. He lifts up his pack so it doesn’t brush against the wetness and the filth. He holds it by the straps, very tight, so the pack doesn’t slip and go crashing right in there . . . There . . . “Leave there.” That is what he wrote in his message, “I have to leave there.”

Maya, who has known him for years, rereads it several times. “I have to leave there.” Why didn’t he write “here”? It should say, “I have to leave here.” Not “there.” She tells herself he is already somewhere else. Maya likes to analyse words. Especially other people’s words. Her own constantly escape her.

He moves solidly forward in the snow. Solid is the word for the deep footprints left by soles so thick they will come unglued long before they are worn out. He moves forward with assurance; yet, he is not sure he will go back to Maya and start again, the life he had before. Life in common. He would like another one, a life. Uncommon.

He and Maya. Words. They knew how to multiply meanings, propose the least obvious meaning, suggesting it was the best, the truest. As if truth is always hidden, buried deep beneath the surface of things.

He walks looking straight ahead, searching the colourless sky that promises him nothing. Feeling that he prefers the horizon to all the words in the world. He walks, while Maya asks herself whether his message really implies his return. She is not sure. Because, in words, there is true and false. She prefers not to know and, for once, not to untangle true from false.

Leave is a word falling. You catch it in flight, or else you settle for listening to a door slam shut. The silence afterward.

Maureen Ranson (ATIA, LTAC), Calgary, Alberta, has a Master’s degree in French Literature. She edited TransLit Volume 6 (Red Deer Press, 2004) and TransLit Volume 5 (Red Deer Press, 2001), and her short-story translations appear in nine volumes of the anthology. Her published translations are Maurice Dufault, Vice-principal (University of Calgary Press, 2006), a novel by Marguerite-A. Primeau, Scholarly Journals in the New Electronic World (UC Press, 2004), and The Caveman’s Calculator.

Sylvie Massicotte lives near Montreal, Quebec. She has had five short story collections published by Les éditions de L’instant même: Partir de là (2009), On ne regarde pas les gens comme ça (2004), Le cri des coquillages (2000), Voyages et autres déplacements (1995), and L’œil de verre (1993) and seven young-adult novels published by Les éditions de La courte échelle. A number of her stories have been translated into English, Dutch, and Czech.