Excerpt In Translation


by Vickie Gendreau

translated by Aimee Wall

BookThug, 2016


To Martine, my mother, I bequeath:
this monologue recited by a five-year-old girl,
my flowered bikini
and one hundred fennec foxes.


Hubert Aquin does his washing in the water of Vickie’s tears. Her tears are clear, she hasn’t worn makeup in ages. She’s my daughter. I took care of my sick mother, my grandmother at the end of her life, and now my daughter. I’m a natural caretaker. All of these women had blue-green eyes, except Vickie. She has brown eyes, like her father. A fun way to wring out the tears that collect on washcloths is to give them a punch. Try it, it’s relaxing. Five year old Vickie appears to me, wearing the same dress as the one in the photo on the fridge. She hands me a bikini. Her voice is twenty-three years old. The bikini is eighteen.


I take down my hair. I pick flowers to put in my hair, but then I change my mind. I don’t look pretty with flowers in my hair. I’m not that kind of girl, and besides I have flowers on my bikini. Maman, you said that I look like a butterfly in my dress. I got a butterfly tattoo just above my pelvis when I was twenty-one. The bathing suit hides some of it.

Maman, I slept with a man for money. With a few men for money, with five, to be exact. Maman, I took down my hair. Maman, I eat hard knocks for breakfast. Maman, I drank every day for six years. Last Wednesday, I had six Moosehead to start. I had two shots of calvados to finish. I was moaning in a booth, I barely remember it.

Intermission of Jameson. Maman, I bought a discounted vibrator on Boxing Day. The part that stimulates the clitoris is a rabbit. Remember how I loved rabbits when I was little? Maman, I can reach all the buttons on the vending machine now, but I don’t button up all of mine. Maman, my vibrator is in the top drawer of my dresser, underneath the papers, don’t be startled. I’m dead, don’t feel bad, you have to clean up, I understand.


Hubert Aquin makes himself a tea. Marie Uguay puts on her tutu. François Villon, a tuxedo. I don’t know who these people are but my daughter says they’re important writers. I get them dressed. They’re coming with me, I’m going tanning. I don’t have any tattoos, but it’s almost the same thing. The bikini looks as good on me as it did on her. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. One night, I turned off the lights and called her into the kitchen. I turned on the lights and shouted: I’m a unicorn. I was holding a highlighter to my forehead. It was so cute she fell over.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Translation by Aimee Wall
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