The record store

Royan, June 1985

Depeche Mode. Of course, I’ve heard their name before, a quite famous name as far as I know ; but searching in my memory I didn’t hear anything from them before.

Sitting in the front of the car, Colin gives me amused glances.
“ D’you think we’ll have the time to go at the record store in Royan before tonight mum?
– But Colin, aren’t you exhausted enough? You felt asleep in this train…
– I’m perfectly fine now, and it’s for an emergency. I take Epo with me, the 4L still starts well?
– What do you have in mind, you both?
– Never mind mum, Epo and I we’ll join you at the Dumonts’. I’ll take my shower in Capucine’s bathroom ; but can you please prepare my clothes and bring them for me?  Plaid pants, suspenders, black tank top …
– Edouard is going to comment on your outfit again…
– He will be there? One more reason !
– I find you a little ungrateful, my boy, he promised to make things easier for you when you’ll integrate Normale Sup in Paris.
– Who knows what life has in store for us until then? I just want to be “kindly” dressed to blow away your boredom at this party… You can do me this little favor, mum?

And he kisses her tenderly on the cheek. As usual, all her doubts vanish at this time.
I envy my brother for this ability he has to always be original and charming at the same time. I still believe that he devotes a lot of effort on deconstructing his image of good student and kind boy. But when he’s here, time flies at full speed. Like now where we jumped from one car to another; in the old 4L which nevertheless took us to Morocco three years ago. The heat is unbearable in it despite the open windows, however, we’re driving slowly along the sea, which makes the traffic jam more pleasant. All those people who’ve worked hard all winter and spring long yearn for terraces on the seafront; and I seem to hear this song, my song,  through a door next to us.

Shake The Disease will shake up summer nights, sister. You really didn’t hear it before ?
– I would have remembered. It was so special, I mean earlier, like I wasn’t in my body anymore…
– I guess I understand what you feel ; I’ve experienced that before , with music. I’m sure they’re some kind of signs those … ecstasies. We have to feed them , so, shall we go for it?”

Colin hard pulls the handbrake, and just after, we’re walking arm in arm in the crowd ; under the golden sun which blinds and streams over the seafront.
Drums beat heavy on the red walls in the crowded record shop , and seeing Colin arrive, a saler with a geometric brush cut peroxided on top, in a advantageously white tight 501 leaves a couple of customers and joins us.

“ Hey Colin ! It’s been ages… what can I do for you?
– Not for me , dude, for my sister . What have you got for Shake The Disease ?”

The guy barely looks at me, and take Colin to the shelves.
“ Well it’s weird; nothing announces that they will release a 33 rpm this summer… But here’s the 12”maxi-single version.”
He pulls off a large cover, half in black; with a weird picture of a man raising his arms in a thick line of multicolored paint. I didn’t expect this picture that I like now, Colin and the boy are surprised at my reaction.

“ We never have enough of songs we love; maxi 45 rpm are lovely for that… Would you please give us the simple 45 rpm also? To dance with uninitiated friends …
– When you’ll be bored of them, there’s a real New Wave party in Rochefort on Friday night. Will you finally join us, you intellectual?
– I’ll try , David … Are you still playing with your band?
– No, I’ve met more interesting guys… in La Rochelle. Potential was a little limited here, and in terms of girls…
– If you’re interested, I spend the evening at Capucine’s… Parents’ party…

The famous “David” pat him friendly but a little hard on the shoulder.

“ Nice of you , sugar. But I’m not fond of snobbishes…”

Epiphany at 2:00 P.M

La Rochelle-Pontaillac , June 1985

– This one, Colin ? Black again, with a high collar ? Seems weird for a swinsuit …
– Exactly this one , mum. The only one she will accept and which will highlight her!
– I hope so, for the price… But isn’t it a bit too “sophisticated” for a young girl?
– Don’t we have to motivate her for this “pool party”? You better know what you want…

Mum resigns after a big sigh and my brother Colin comes proudly to me, with his laughing eyes under a bunch of messy blond locks.

– What do you think of it ?
Colin’s in his element . He loves chosing clothes for me. In fact, he loves doing it for everyone ; and I don’t have the heart to hurt him.

– Please make a just a smile for your brother, Eponine; and for heaven’s sake leave that long face ! By the way, you’ve put your tee-shirt upside down…
– How can you know it?
– The label right here… Isn’t it your trademark anyway?

I tear the swimsuit from her hands.
I don’t want to show myself at this fucking pool-party by my parents’ posh friends. I don’t want to find myself alone in the stifling fitting room with this 14 years-old skinny and pale body of mine. What promises to be rejoicing for everyone will just be a torture for me.

I feel like entering a sauna, bombarded by the stupid voice of a radio host from the loudspeaker above , and by the music. The music… this time, quite different…
It seems like the voice , a lonely voice comes from the ground as my clothes miserably fall, and in the pace of heavy metallic notes, my shoulders slightly start to move. Then, circular long scrapings replace the voice and curl up in the cramped space which heat just began to vibrate in rhythm. Still falling, lighter notes bend in the flickering light, and I’m surrounded.

My hand , my gesture hang in the cottony hair, I can’t see them clearly anymore. Another voice arose, a deeper voice; coming from the ground , and slowly feeding my breathe. My chest leaves with each sentence , in a suffocating way that covers my eyes with mist.
I don’t understand clearly what he says, this is my first year in English; but I feel something compelling , essential, is just being said. The voice may be firm, it’s tinged with pleading though; and it’s like my whole body becomes this prayer.

There is nothing around me and even inside me anymore, nothing more than this flashing stream between the voice rising from my feet and the sparkling notes raining vertically on me. There is nothing, not even my paltry body, nor my diaphanous reflection in the mirror that I feared, now all is drowned in my listening to the first voice, and its modulated supplication,

Understand me;

These are the only words I know, and as strange as it may sound; they are enough for me to understand. To realize that this plea, sent by those voices in the dampness of emerging summer; it might be my whole life. Because nobody knows me, and I didn’t knew myself completely either, before I heard the two stubborn words in that trembling voice.

Understand me

How it ends , I don’t remember. Maybe because it doesn’t end , even if I am assaulted again by the nasal idiocies of the host.
But what was it, you fucking dumbass, what was it? He doesn’t tell…

“ Does it fit Eponine? You’ve been here for ages !
– Oh, yeah, yeah; it’s alright mum…”

In fact I don’t know. I put it on well but I don’t remember anything. And mum doesn’t notice my trouble at all , just in a hurry to pay because we have to drive back to Pontaillac. More than an hour’s drive from La Rochelle.

I stand nervously in the middle of the store shelves, where high school girls pass, their arms laden with vaporous dresses, when a friendly, a brotherly hand rests on my shoulder.

“ What happens to you, Epo? Why are you shivering like that, and oh … you cried?
– Help me Colin, you always know anything… I mean, about music.. What was it ?
– What the hell are you talking about? Do you … Oh, wait, when you were in the cabin, am I right?
– Please tell me…”

And he looks at me with his surprised big blue eyes.

“ But Depeche Mode, girl, of course ! Where have you been living this month ? ”