Simone realized that it was at that same time of year, with the forsythia in bloom, that Claude had first brought her here, to his house in the T. The bush was not yet so high that it took up the whole window, but already blackbirds had built a nest among the yellow blooms screening the neighbors' rough-cast wall. The male was there, clinging to the fence, eyeing her through the gaps in the mesh. Simone could see it jerking its head toward her. She had made a move to close the window but froze at the sound of the bell for fear of missing the child's voice. But it was still only Jovana, the mother, answering Claude's terse sentences. They were in the hall, right behind the study door, and Simone stood with her back to it, as though it was not enough to have shut it to show her obedience to the privacy demanded. Jovana might have changed her mind, in which case this plan, which had been so long coming to fruition, then rushed into, in a kind of salutary terror, would have been nothing but pointless torment for everyone. And Claude would have nothing left to salvage before the unimaginable idea of approaching death. Simone hardly dared think that this was what they should hope.
The blackbird had begun to claw at the fence in anxious anticipation of taking flight. Then it would vanish into the top of the plum trees across the lawn beside the long remote box of balconies and ocher tiles, which Simone had always known to be there but which it still pained Claude to think he had allowed built. Like a wall of cages, the block loomed out over the white-and-yellow expanse of the garden, causing her, too, a pang of bitterness on this particular day--this relentless day, she could not help thinking.
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