THE ADVOCATE 691
VOL. 77 PART 5 SEPTEMBER 2019
put his hands on my shoulders, leaned in, and spoke only to me. “Your
mother would’ve been so proud, Jenny girl. She would’ve loved it out here.”
Blair returned and handed me a pen.
I have arranged to stay with Aur’s younger sister in Paris. Léonie: she is
one of those people who looks chic and gets by in an expensive city without
having a steady job. A breezy, bubbly bohemian. I have always liked her.
On my previous trips to France, Léonie had tried with some success to
make me feel like I belonged in their attractive, modern family. On her trips
to Canada, she would let go of her work of holding everyone together. We
would smoke and drink on the balcony overlooking the Upper Harbour. Aur
would scold us. He had adopted a clean, West Coast lifestyle since our move
from Montréal in 2009.
I grin for what feels like the first time in weeks when I see Léonie waiting
for me outside customs. Dirty blonde hair rumpled just so, no makeup other
than bright red lipstick. She notices me. Her face lights up and she claps her
hands together. “Jen! Jen, you’re here!” Right away I catch her French lilt.
She pronounces Jen with a soft “J”. We hug when I get past the barrier. She
busies herself with my bag and getting us to the door and the shuttle, chattering
all the way. I tell her we have to stop at a tabac as soon as possible.
When we reach the parkade, we pause in silence as Léonie fumbles for
her keys. Her brow is knit in concentration. The expression brings a shadow
to her face. For the first time, I suspect that her vivaciousness is an act that
is wearing on her, that it masks a mature sadness she finds harder and
harder to ignore.
I take a breath. “Lili, I need to talk to him.” Léonie pauses the search for
her keys but keeps her gaze downcast. She nods. “I hate to drag you into all
this,” I add, shaking my head.
She looks up as she pulls the keys out of her purse. Léonie is warm and
lively again. “Jen, Jen, arrête. I understand, okay? You do not have to say
anything. It’s … I don’t know, it’s life, yeah?”
In 2015, once the dust had settled after my affair, Aur and I went to a
friend’s New Year’s Eve party on a boat in the harbour. A clear, cold night.
The guests were beautiful. My dress was exquisite. I remember staring
when I noticed myself in the bathroom mirror. I looked gorgeous. How
could I appear so radiant now, so alive? It felt wrong.
Aur did something out of character at the party: he got drunk. He didn’t
make a fool of himself, though. Politeness is one of Aur’s most persistent