Chapter 1

Hm.  Once upon a time …

No, no, no ! Since two centuries, all the stories begin by “once upon a time”. Mine will start by something else.  Moreover, it’s not precisely about my story, it’s as well  about theirs. Then, imagine the sire Perrault’s gnashing of teeth, if beyond the grave, he was reading the first words of my diary, I quote : once upon a time, twice upon a time, ten times, twenty times, thirty times upon a time !  It’s likely that the old academician, hundred eighty four years old today, slip on as quickly as possible  his wig and his lace jabot  to  come to pull my ears. And honestly, what would I do with a ghost in the  lighthouse? A grumbler spectre escaped from Saint Benoit’s cemetery in Paris, for expunge this affront to his immortal quotation : Once upon a time.     

If Madam Lechêne was reading these first three lines, she would certainly say : “My poor Elisabeth, put some order there! It’s necessary to structure your  story. It wouldn’t make sense to invite readers in a shaggy-dog storie.” 

    Portrait of Madam Lechêne

Madam Lechêne is my governess, and she has this personal way to know everything about everything. From aquatic plants names to birds ones. From the names of the constellations, in ancient Greek, please; to those delicious food that she cooks on the cast iron stove, in the lighthouse’s small kitchen. When I write : “this personal way to know everything about everything” I’m carefully weighing my words because I suspect her to have abused of my child naivety by inventing a lot of silly definitions to describe things nearest to us. Prank at which she was forced to stop when I was able to read the old books put under the spiral staircase leading up to the lighthouse’s lantern. 

Three days ago, Madam Lechêne left me alone in the tower to collect clams on the rocks. Since then, she never came back. Maybe she has been taken by an old fisherman or a  loneliest captain in his drifting ghost ship. She might but I doubt it. My governess was too ugly for someone wanting to take her in the shade of its boat sails. Her hands were too dry, too calloused, and her shin was so rough that it could be possible to blaze matches on it. Her long nose, as for it, and her perfect bun, gave her a strange  courtesan look. Her eye yet, her eye which took the Ocean’s color when the clouds move towards the north, concealed a thousand beauties which could have moved a man , if her deformed skeleton had not given her such a frightening figure.

As I write to you, I am in my governess’s room. And maybe this is here that my story should begin. In this mysterious decor that I was not allowed to visit since my parents locked me up in the lighthouse. In the middle of the ocean, far away from Britain’s coasts.


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