Wednesday, February 07, 2007

GBA(s)FC Entry #36

by Nathalie Boisard-Beudin

How beautiful is Magdalena on this picture…

He picks it up, his hands trembling slightly. His sister. He whispers softly “Lella...”

His voice has a catch, as is some hurt animal is hiding in his throat, growling in pain, slowly agonizing over that last “a”.

Seventy years later, the pain is still there, lacerating a corner of his heart.

His eyes slowly fill with tears.

Lella is oblivious to all this.

She looks over her right shoulder, to the view outside the picture frame, slightly detached and smiling.

She knows that she’s pretty: she sports a brand new dress and the photographer is teasing her gently, the old flirt. She’s fifteen.

She’ll never get any older.

In the 1930’s, at the sanatorium of Nereto, on the Abruzzi hills, tuberculosis still kills hundreds of persons each year.

It will eventually claim one of her sister and her father too, but she does not know that yet. As she does not know that, in exactly 10 years’ time, somewhere beyond the Alps, a young French writer will pen his most poetic story around that disease, making water lilies bloom in the chest of his heroine.

A very graceful, even lyrical – if painful – death awaits Madgalena, but on that day, the 17th December 1936, she smiles.

She has all her life ahead of her.

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