A short story by Margaret Papillon
Translated from the french by Yasmine Léger
According to God…
It was past midnight when Claca left the Andrieux’s family home. She turned over and over between her fingers the check that Archibald Andrieux had finally signed for her after hours and hours of pleading.
She was exhausted, but happy! She heaved a sigh of relief. She had finally obtained something from Archibald, a man who was renowned for being the stingiest of the country.
Three thousand dollars! That is how much she was able to get to save the life of her beloved husband, Selondieu Dalegrand, from the claws of the Dictator François Duvalier’s henchmen.
Since Selondieu confessed being hounded down by the makoutes who wanted to kill him under the guise of communism, Claca was terrified! According to everyone, such accusations would undoubtedly lead to death.
Two men, armed to the teeth, looking threatening and dressed up in deep-blue, came by twice and asked to see the man of the house.
She begged her brother Julien to hide Selondieu in his house for a few days. She also burned the book, «The Capital» by Karl Marx that her husband had brought home on a hot day of July and that he would religiously read every night like a bible. The gospel according to Saint… Selon!
Bullets had smashed the house shutters early morning one day, predicting troubles. Claca’s anguish grew stronger, invading slowly her head, her body, her heart and her soul until she was completely overcome by it.
She had to humiliate herself to get these three thousand dollars. She was once engaged to Archibald Andrieux but left him for Selondieu only two months before the wedding. As life irony will have it, Archibald was the only one who could lend her enough money to keep her husband safe. So, she put all pride aside and muster enough courage to leave her home in order to beg for her man.
She had no idea how she was going to reimburse that money to Archibald. She promised that Selondieu would repay Archibald as soon as he would find a job in the Dominican Republic. All he needed for now was being able to afford adequate lodging. With enough to feed himself, he would be able to throw himself wholeheartedly into the trade of bare necessities products, since her job as a typist at the Taxation Office would not be enough to reimburse their creditor such a big amount even over a long period of time.
In life, you do what ever you can with what you have at your disposal. She loved her Selon so much!
Selondieu had been living on foreign soils for the past two months. It was strange that he barely called; but it’s been four weeks that there was no word from him. “Ah! It must be difficult for him to adapt to a new life” Claca thought sadly, so sorry that her poor husband was in such a deplorable situation.
Aware that she had to everything possible to save a human life, being cramped at her mother’s where she had to sleep on a makeshift uncomfortable mattress on the floor at the foot of her sister’s bed, did not matter to Claca. Those uneasy moments were nothing compared to what her husband was going through against his will. According to God –the true one –, paradise belongs to those who give of themselves unconditionally. Amen!
So, Claca endured her misfortune patiently. No one was more important on this earth than Selondieu, the future father of the offsprings she always dreamed of.
Time flew at the speed of lightning!
Then, one day, her anxiety reached its peak, to the point of impeding her breathing movement…. Two months without any news was alarming. Every day, she cursed the fact that the money borrowed from Archibald was not enough. It was her ex fiancé’s fault for being so stingy. Had he lent her a little more money, she would have been able to install a telephone line which would have prevented her from waiting longingly and in agony for a call from her husband. “Poor Selondieu”! The nearest ‘phone booth’ must be so far away!
Claca had to travel to make sure that beloved Selon was fine.
Every single penny from her last paycheck was used toward this travel. Well! What is the use of money if it could only be used to pay bills and savings? When money was not playing hard to get, it was acting important when in fact, it was NOTHING! No matter how much we have, it is never be enough. Simply a vanishing element that consistently slips through your fingers...