I am 7 years old and I am in love with Bernard.
It is 5.30 p.m., Mrs. Valmary, our teacher, has left the room to accompany the class to the school gate where parents are waiting for their children.
There are 5 of us sitting behind our desks. We’ve been ordered to sit quietly. We are punished and I am responsible for the 4 boys who of course go silly as soon as our teacher goes out of the door.
When she comes back 5 minutes later, she asks me if everyone has been good. I tell her only Bernard was good. What a lie! But he can go straight home while the others have to stay a few minutes longer.
The following year I will find myself in another class with another teacher and I will not see Bernard again for a long time. I will be forced to write with my right hand. It’s very complicated for me and it takes time. So when I can, I cheat. I turn my notebook as soon as she turns her back. It’s so much easier with the left hand. I don’t like this teacher.
I am 15 years old. At the farm it’s the beginning of summer and Bernard is here. He rode his bike up the hill and he’s sweating. He carries a cardboard box with a hen in it. We don’t need an introduction. He talks to me about his hen that he cherishes. She lives with him in his bedroom which seems extraordinary to me, I who can’t even have have a cat. I think how lucky he is.
He is going on holiday and looking for someone to look after his hen. Mom has just come out of the house; we talk a bit and we decide to put his hen with the other hens. Bernard leaves.
4 weeks later, he is back to pick up his darling. We look for his hen but we can’t find her. She’s not in the chicken pen. Where is this hen? Dad who’s there asks, honey, haven’t we eaten one lately? Ah! said mum puzzled, you’re right, she thinks for a second, I went to the chicken coop to choose one and I didn’t have to go far, that one was in front of me and it didn’t move….
When I am 18 our paths cross again. He looks so great. He has become a shepherd and it suits him. His sandy hair is all tangled, he no longer combs it. He doesn’t cut it anymore either. His blue eyes are still sparkling. We would have liked to, but he has his girlfriend and I’m with Michel.
Last year I heard that he lives a few kilometres from here. Really? I smiled and grabbed the phone. His mother had left town and had a yurt built in the middle of a garden in a small village not far from here, where she lived as a recluse and was considered an eccentric. It is true that his parents had always been different from other parents. Both sports teachers and unconventional, they had been adored by their teenage students. Bernard moved in the yurt after his mother’s passing.
Except that it is not Bernard but his brother who now lives in the yurt with his two children … Bernard lives in Sweden and has been there for decades…