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tell him where his first appointment is. His Renault Clio will take him to his first patient, then to a second. He’ll drown as he does every day in a tide of symptoms and loneliness, sink into the sticky grey city. They’ve had other weekends like this one. They’re interludes which she grants him – far from Paris and from everything else – less and less often. You’d only have to look at them when she walks beside him, never brushing against him or touching him. You’d only have to see them in a restaurant or on any café terrace, and that distance which separates them. You’d only have to look down at them, by some swimming pool, their bodies side by side, the caresses she doesn’t return and which he has given up on. It would be enough to see them anywhere, in Toulouse, Barcelona or Paris, in any city at all, him stumbling on the paving stones and tripping over the kerb, unbalanced, caught out. At times like these she says: ‘God, you’re clumsy!’ Then he’d like to say no. He’d like to say: ‘Before I met you I was an eagle, I was a bird of prey. Before I met you I flew above the streets and didn’t bump into anything. Before I met you I was strong.’ It’s four in the morning and he’s acting like a complete idiot, shut in a hotel bathroom because he can’t sleep. 9

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Underground Time  

Please click here to read an extract from Goncourt Prize Shortlisted Underground Time, by Delphine de Vigan.