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(Hervé Suys)

Just when she was about to give birth to her third child, she considered this moment as the right time to make a confession. She wanted to tell the truth to her husband, the alleged father of all three children. At first, he thought that his wife was gulping and exhausted with the pain of labour, but gradually the grip with which he held her hand became less firm. As many drops of sweat dripped on his forehead as on hers. Even before the first cry of the new born - a third boy - the man withdrew slowly and almost silently. His disappearance was only noticed by the mother, who sighed deeply, relieved that a heavy burden had fallen from her shoulders. She then resumed the panting and rhythmic pressing associated with the creation of new life.
Meanwhile, the man walked through the corridors to the hospital's gift shop. His disappointment was big when it turned out that they were selling neither tobacco nor alcohol, because he now felt a need for both. He didn't even look behind him when he walked out through a revolving door. With stinging eyes, he stared at the clouds for a moment and then took a big step towards City Centre. He stopped at the first bar he encountered on his route. He pushed open the door, took a seat at a table, and immediately ordered two large glasses of beer. That's how I found him, staring gloomily at the bottom of his empty glasses. Due to my profession, I regularly stay in such establishments. I offered the man a fresh pint. He accepted, invited me to join him and made me part of his recent suffering.

At first he became friends with her brother, whom he had met during the home matches of his favourite football team, Black-and-Blue. Their friendship went beyond the game, and soon they went round to each-others houses.

The first time he saw her, she sat raised knees in the corner of a black leather armchair, reading a book he had finished two weeks before. At first she only glanced up when he greeted her with politeness, but a conversation soon developed. She became fascinated by his literary knowledge. He went home that day whistling, writing her name in thin air with great swinging movements. The following days he also wrote that name in graceful letters on every corner of every piece of paper within reach. He drove to the beach and braved the last winter prick to draw her name in the sand with his bare feet – first with his right foot, which was easy, then a little more challenging with his left. They married in the same spring the football team became champion again after eleven long years, oh-irony, on the field of arch-rival Purple-and-White.

Their love for each other was great and within a short period of time she gave birth to two boys. The first was named after a legendary but not forgotten goalkeeper of Black-and-Blue, the second that of the then striker. Everything seemingly went harmoniously in the family: the man promoted twice in a short time, the woman seemed to be able to agree with her role as a caring mother. The children were angels that were admitted to the local football team as soon as their age allowed it. Secretly the father hoped to one day see his sons wearing the shirt of his beloved club, but turned a blind eye to their poor game insight and lack of technique. After eight years, the woman announced almost casually and in the presence of the boys that she was pregnant again. The man appeared to be pleasantly surprised, the woman smiled briefly from a single corner of her mouth and cleared the table. That evening in bed the man did the math and recalled days and weeks, but did not find a reassuring solution.

In the following weeks and months, the man could not catch her on a single sign of misconduct or concealed mockery. The morning on which she was to give birth to a third boy, she had just kindly but icy asked him to put the suitcase in the car. Although he knew from previous times that the preparations had been carried out to perfection and the only thing that was expected of him was to bring the expectant mother safely to childbirth, he found it hard to concentrate: the car came to a halt twice because he shifted to the wrong gear, he drove past the hospital entrance once and in the elevator he pressed the wrong button. None of this, however, could spoil her seemingly good mood. She went with everything.

An hour and a half later, she was lying with a baby in her arms listening to his soft breath, while the man sitting here beside me is drinking beer, has not even seen the child and is wondering how it should continue after her confession ... her confession that she does not want to name the child after the defence midfielder of Black-and-White because she has actually silently been a supporter of Purple-and-White for a long time.


Author Notes: illustration by Vince Delhaye

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27 Jun, 2019
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