Anne De Gelas: L’amoureuse

Anne De Gelas is a Belgian artist and photographer. She studied photography at the Ecole Supérieure des Arts de l'image, and since 1994 has been exhibiting work in highly personal shows. Le Caillou Bleu published a book of her work, L'Amoureuse, in 2013. Her most recent series is 'Mère et fils'.

Belgium – An (almost) perfect day – 4th April 2010 Max comes to wake us up quite early, he’s there at the end of the bed, talking loudly the Easter bells have rung T stays in bed he’s cold I take a blanket out of the wardrobe to warm him up, it smells of dust I don’t remember what colour the sky was or the time, or what we had for breakfast as usual, Max talks to me, he tends to ignore his father, who had joined us at the seaside the night before, while Max was asleep Still up at ten-thirty, my face pressed to the window, I scan the seawall Cold, wind – emptiness, the noise of waves breaking I see him muffled up in his thick hooded coat my heart lights up, he smiles, I make childish little noise as I stand there I’m in love Max knows that T won’t leap out of bed like I do we were cold last night, we slept entwined, almost one on top of the other, in the join where the twin beds were pushed together seeking each other’s warmth when T gets up, Max and I put away the Lego, he has his breakfast… he’s pulled the inside out of his roll that soft bread that he calls “stodge” to make me laugh I forgot to bring his little coffee machine… he doesn’t like coffee from the percolator he drinks his coffee next to us I say it’s a fine day, already  calm, he looks at the sea I don’t remember looking at the sea, I see him next to us he doesn’t pay much attention to what we’re doing, doesn’t take part in any way “HE LOOKS AT US” he savours us Max shows him his presents, the books too … they don’t say much to each other, they have their own special way of communicating in a private place where I have never been their relationship is made up of silences too they touch a lot of course we then take time to get dressed Max isn’t in a hurry to go out … they read one of the new books “my invisible friend”, I think … it’s cold, we walk on the beach … huddled together T forgot his hat the wind is freezing, they collect shells … the two of them I watch them – Max runs on – we walk arm in arm Max wants to stop by the breakwater and search the tide pools for angels’ wings … perhaps watch some crabs … too bitterly cold, going back to the seawall he wants to play on the climbing frame T and I look for somewhere sheltered, but there’s nowhere we sit on a bench, fully exposed to the cold wind I’m sheltered by T’s body, protected from the wind I remember the little kisses, birdlike pecks we go into the shop selling children’s clothing choose some sandals – Max doesn’t want to stay, he’s terrible … joyful we stop to get something for lunch – something special stop to show T a t-shirt I found for Max he likes it, I’ll buy it … the shop’s shut … for lunch? Sunday? I bought it at Boon’s I’m undecided between two sorts of olive preserve the Lucques, the gold medal ones or the little black ones from Provence! green for Max, little black ones for T I take both, I don’t want to disappoint him aware that it matters to him what I choose, he tests me ‘me or our son’ he buys sea salt … some herbs, I think … he’s going to make a salad for my mother, she loves his delicious salads we go back holding hands all the way an unhurried aperitif ? T cooks, I love … watching him so concentrated completely taken up with giving us pleasure has he used the new pepper mill I bought with him in mind ? Mother says he did, he was pleased with it did I hug him enough at table he announces happily that he can stay till Thursday he loves his new job, he’s full of ideas he says that people come to the wine bar just for him because they appreciate him, it’s important for him to be appreciated people love him if he stays it’s going to cost me more money, I’m a bit worried about that … we’re broke he loves spending, eating well, something special each day I love to please him, can’t resist his enthusiasm above all I think of the calm that will spread over his face clouded with worry the frown line will disappear he always relaxes as soon as he gets to the seaside and tans easily, Max has inherited his complexion … fine weather is forecast T lies down to rest after lunch, as he always does by the sea, he feels a bit cold – I cover him up Max settles down beside him with his new toys T loves listening to his son immersed in his imaginary world right beside him I leave them there happy to think of them together in their own perfect bubble Max will later say that his father didn’t feel well that he meant to tell us but that when he saw his toys in the living room he was distracted T often suffers from bouts of sickness we walked down to the beach, leaving him to rest did I kiss him before I went out yes, of course, as always on his eyelids his fragile eyelids, tinged with mauve I often said ‘the first thing I fell in love with was your eyelids’ I pulled up the blanket too, he was cold I must have said too ‘I love you, my darling’ softly, deeply into the turmoil always emotional on the beach, Max chooses to build his castle too far from the sea it’s a long way down to the water the tide comes in fast I looked up between the spades and saw you appear from between two beach huts I see you still in your thick black cardigan with the pointed hood I love the way you look – more than I can say you’re handsome, stylish, a man of integrity the man I love the man I’ve waited for all my life you come nearer between the two images there is a whiteness the whiteness of your walk the white foam on the water that ripples over your path to the sandcastle I take your face between my hands, I still feel your lips on mine That sweet, mutual movement of union you say ‘I’m cold’ I answer ‘go straight home and get a coat’ I turn round to pick up my spade out of the corner of my eye I see your dark shape falling I turn you over in the sand your face buried in the soft sand they said ‘diagnosis of the vital signs is very bad’ I spent the night telling you I loved you kissing you crying looking at you and smiling still happy to be at your side impossible to comprehend death ever.  

L’Amoureuse by Anne De Gelas and published by Le Caillou Bleu is a book about loss. It’s moving and heartfelt but also has a determination and hardness about it; the determination to confront unexpected and tragic loss, to be angry about it, to hate it, to accept it, to build it into one’s life story and be able to move on to a place where the pain and anger is tinged with affection and love.” – Colin Pantall 

  Written and Photographed by: Anne De Gelas  Published by: Le Caillou Bleu

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