Jaana-Kristiina Alakoski

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The four hands are lying in a row, motionless.

The space between A…’s left hand and Franck’s right hand is approximately two inches. The shrill cry of some nocturnal carnivore, sharp and short, echoes again toward the bottom of the valley, at an unspecified distance.

A… has gone to get the glasses, the soda water, and the cognac herself. She sets a tray with the two bottles and three big glasses down on the table. Having uncorked the cognac she turns toward Franck and looks at him, while she begins making his drink.

Now the shadow of the column — the column which supports the southwest corner of the roof — divides the corresponding corner of the veranda into two equal parts. This veranda is a wide, covered gallery surrounding the house on three sides. Since its width is the same for the central portion as for the sides, the line of shadow cast by the column extends precisely to the corner of the house; but it stops there, for only the veranda flagstones are reached by the sun, which is still too high in the sky.
The wooden walls of the house — that is, its front and west gable-end — are still protected from the sun by the roof (common to the house proper and the terrace). So at this moment the shadow of the outer edge of the roof coincides exactly with the right angle formed by the terrace and the two vertical surfaces of the corner of the house.

Now A... has come into the bedroom by the inside door opening onto the central hallway. She does not look at the wide open window through which — from the door —  she would see this corner of the terrace.
Now she has turned back toward the door to close it behind her. She still has on the light-colored, close-fitting dress with the high collar that she was wearing at lunch when Christiane reminded her again that loose-fitting clothes make the heat easier to bear. But A... merely smiled: she never suffered from the heat, she had known much worse climates than this — in Africa, for instance — and had always felt fine there. Besides, she doesn’t feel the cold either. Wherever she is, she keeps quite comfortable.