LA COUCHE DU DIABLE

Red tights covering the body and head and a long black open cape: his costume exudes evil. A face emerging from beneath the hood, with raised eyebrows slanting upwards from the top of the nose to the highest points of the temple: Satan grimaces. Just as a Death’s skull no longer frightens us, this outdated image passed down to us over the ages no longer represents the proclivity to sin. It is said that he who profits from crime is guilty of it. But can an innocent person admit guilt ? And yet…

When the vase perched on the mantelpiece fell, the muffled sound of glass hitting the carpet made the mother come running. The child still had the offending doily in his hands when she came. She carefully laid the vase out flat on her two scooped hands as if it were a sacred offering to the gods. She began muttering a seemingly endless monologue :

– I can’t believe it ; I can’t believe it! 

Her voice was hollow. Did she even know she was speaking? Perhaps she was addressing the crack that had emerged in her life.

– I can’t believe it…

But it was just a vase. Never in living memory had a single stalk or stem of a bouquet bloomed in its waters.

– Look what you’ve done!

She glared pointedly at the fingers that clutched the edges of the doily. For a four or five-year old, each thing has a soul.

– And what’s this ? she said, gesturing at the lace.

– It was hanging down over the edge of the mantlepiece. It wasn’t me ; it was my hand! It’s the vase that fell…

She went silent but the child never forgot the stinging reproach. He was filled with remorse. Here lies the lair of the devil ; he lies asleep on burning embers.

Serge Lutens

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