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he thinks about it, Lila’s behaviour shows her lack of enthusiasm better than all her words, her way of being there without being there, her walk-on part, except for once or twice perhaps when he thought for a night that something more than the obscure need she had for him was possible. Wasn’t that what she said to him, that night or some other? ‘I need you. Can you understand that, Thibault, without thinking it’s about subservience or dependence?’ She had taken hold of his arm and repeated: ‘I need you.’ Now she thanks him for being there. While she waits for something better. She’s not afraid of losing him, of deceiving him, of displeasing him. She’s not afraid of anything. She couldn’t care less. And there’s nothing he can do about that. He has to leave her. It has to stop. He’s old enough to know that what’s done is done. Lila just isn’t programmed to fall in love with him. These things are written inside people like data in a computer. Lila doesn’t recognise him in the computing sense of the term, just as some computers can’t read a document or open certain disks. It’s not in her specifications, her set-up. 11

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Underground Time  

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