“T’es beau”. I turned my head and looked at her. Around 30-35, long, messy hair, flowery dress, leather boots. “T’es beau” she repeated, staring at me straight in the eye. My heart started racing in my chest, I was just standing there, looking at her, unable to smile or move or speak. She reached in her pocket, took out a cigarette, put it to her lips, lit it. Staring at me. No words. “A demain” she said after an eternity; she turned and walked away moving her hips dancingly.
I could not think of anything else for the whole day at school. I messed up the math test. My friends lips were moving, I didn’t hear a world. Nausea and stomach cramps. Flashes coming and going. My palms were sweating, my heart kept pounding when I tried to imagine how she smelled. What was her name? Marie, Héloïse, Anne?
Two days later, I fell asleep in her double bed. I knew now how she smelled, how she tasted, how her sweat glowed. A haze of touches, moments and heartbeats. “Embrasses-moi”. I was sure I was dreaming. Her hands going through my body, her breath getting faster. Her body bare, her eyes wild. I could not believe my luck. Erica, no name could be fiercer.
The week after, she came for me three days in a row. Missing classes, gaining scratches, black circles below my eyes. Eating strawberry jam out of the vase, drinking cheap wine, trying my first cigarettes. Going through her books, her clothes, her photos. Newspapers piled up on the table, getting dusty. Two dying plants in their pots. A huge red couch, the colour worn by the sun. No curtains. No TV. A brand new, messy, dusty, sunny, colourful world, I was slowly submerging into.
— to be continued —
Erica’s Strawberry Vanilla Jam
makes about 750ml of jam
- 1 kg strawberries (ripe but firm)
- 2 tablespoons water
- juice from 1 lemon (around 60 ml)
- 400 grams brown raw sugar/ or normal sugar (around 1 + 3/4 cups)
- 1 vanilla bean, seeds and cell, cut in 4 pieces
1.Wash the strawberries and cut off their stems. Let the fruits whole, if too large cut in half. Heat a heavy bottomed pot (or a wok) in medium high. Pour in the strawberries with the 2 table spoons of water. Stir softly, for around 5 minutes, until the fruits are slightly softened.
2. Add the sugar, the lemon juice and the vanilla bean (seeds and cell pieces). Stir well until sugar desolves. Increase the heat to high and bring to simmer. Once it simmers, bring the heat down to medium. Stir occassionally, letting it cook for another 30 minutes. Remove foam with a spoon.
3. 30-35 minutes after the jam first simmered, you will have the jam consistency pictured, a syropy beautiful jam. For a thicker result, cook for around 40-45 minutes. Once ready, divide in sterilised jars, putting one piece of the vanilla bean in each jar. Store in the fridge. Eat a whole jar for breakfast and run to buy more strawberries, before the season is over!
Notes: The more the time passes, the more the vanilla bean will infuse the strawberry jam. Be adventurous and try the loose syropy version, you will never look back. Remember that once the jam cools it will become thicker. I have decreased the sugar in 5 different versions of the jam and found that this ratio of fruit, sugar and lemon juice gave the best result. Try it or expirement too! 🙂