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The heart-shaped locket

The Sacred Heart

By Natalie Martin Published 3 years ago 9 min read
My Dystopia

(Music playing through my headphones)

Jeux sans frontières

Jeux sans frontières

I chuckled to myself, thinking about all the times I sang those words incorrectly. Those pithy lyrics transcending time. I proceeded my ascent up the now defunct nuclear reactor to serve as night watchman, trying desperately to reign in the myriad of feelings washing over me. Powerful and vivid as the day it happened. The day the face of humanity spun on its head and changed forever.

The Golféchois, the residents of our little commune in Golfech, Southwestern France, were a close-knit community. Each with their idiosyncrasies, which made it so peculiarly attractive to anyone who passed through. Many tourists would stay for a night or two, even if they didn't initially intend to. Many cyclists, following the Voie Vert Cycle path from Moissac to the east and western border of Lot-et-Garonne would stop to buy the delectable saucisse that hung in front the butchery window. The Golfech nuclear reactors stood proudly on the banks of the Barguelonne river. The Golfèchois revelled in the attention and welcomed 'l'ignorant' as they affectionately called outsiders.

After the Great Pestilence claimed the lives of Lèna and her brother Raphaël, my neighbours and long term friends,I was the only one left standing on our street. The étrangère, who still felt odd and out of place. The Great Pestilence changed life as we knew it. Standing on a walkway built at the centre of the reactor observing the sunset from this vantage point, like low hanging fruit in the sky throwing ominous shadows on the Bargeulonne, as I took up my position for the night, I experienced an indescribable pang deep in my solar plexus for my beloved Golfèchois. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath in. The smell of magret de canard on the bbq wafting through the air. The sound of dishes clanging and laughter. All that gone in an instant. Tears stinging my eyes. The future that was predicted now a reality, bleak and unforgiving. Rations slowly disappearing, medical supplies running low.

Maybe it was hunger pangs, maybe it was the grief, but in the distance I could make out a silhouette approaching. As it grew taller and taller I could barely see the face of a young man, obscured by the darkness of the grass and trees. He looked to be carrying his rifle and a rucksack.

Arrête!! I shouted.

He put his hands up in the air and shouted back: Parlez-vous Anglais? Do you speak English? I am American.

Yes, of course. I shouted back. Stay where you are! I pointed my rifle at him. Who are you Americain and what do you want?

My name is Jeremy and I'm looking for Roxanna.

Roxanna! I had not heard that name in many years!

There is no Roxanna here, I shouted back. Just keep moving.

No Roaxnna!?? He said clearly surprised. Shit! he swore under his breath.

We say merde here I said amused. Why are you looking for Roxanna?

She has something that belonged to my father, Frédéric.

I froze.


Yes, did you know him?

I lowered my rifle. Wait where you are! I'm coming down.

When I finally climbed down, I could see his face much more clearly in the light of my torch.

He was about 6'2, ruggedly handsome with an air of unwavering confidence.

He stuck his hand out and I immediately shook it.

I know Roxanna I said a little out of breath.

I thought you said there was no Roxanna here.

I lied I said simply.

So before I take you to her, what is this thing that she has that belonged to your father? I asked

I'd prefer that stay between Roxanna and I, he retorted.

Okay, follow me.

I walked ahead of him, down the path along the river, then under a tunnel that led to a dimly lit stairwell, up the dimly lit stairwell and through a door that led to the other side of the reactors. Once on the other side, I unlocked a huge steel door that was double bolted and had to be kicked twice on the bottom for it to open.

Geez, you'd think it was Fort Knox or something.

I laughed, you Americains are so dramatic, it's obligatory to take such measures, especially in the times we live in.

Yes, it's obligatory he laughed, as he mocked my French accent.

Once out on the other side, just across the tree lined lane was a big farmhouse. It belonged to a Christian missionary who had died before the Great Pestilence hit and I had taken over his place as my own.

Once inside, I switched the lights on.

Impressive Jeremy said. You have electricity.

Yes, I have a generator. It makes life easier. Sit down I said.

I poured Bordeaux into a tin mug and set it front of him.


Your French is good!

He laughed, throwing his head back. Non. C'est terrible.

I put a plate of cheese, sauscisse and bread in front of him.

He ate hungrily.

I'm sure it's been days since you've eaten.

He nodded gratefully.

So Jeremy, you are looking for Roxanna. What do you know about her?

Not much he said, spreading his hands out, I know that she was my father's protégé for a while and that he trusted her. Before he died, he sent me a letter telling me that he left something of great importance with her. He said she would know what it was when she found it. It's very important that I find it.

Very cryptic! I said. Well Jeremy, I am Roxanna, but I am known as Anna now.

What!? You are?

I knew your father very well, yes, and he did trust me, but I do not know of this cryptic thing you speak of.

What Jeremy didn't know was that his father was more than a mentor to me. We had a torrid love affair. He was 22 years older than me when we met at the Sorbonne, he was a professor of Metaphysics & Philosophy and I was his student. We fell in love almost immediately.

I'll never forget the day we met. I replay it over and over in my mind. He was tall with flecks of silver in his hair, he had deep brown eyes that stared into your soul. He had a kind, gentle manner about him and long beautiful fingers and big hands that warmed you from the inside when he held your hands in his. He was the most beautiful man I had ever seen.

The first night we spent together was explosive, sexually. He was experienced, a man of the world and I was still an inexperienced virgin. We were addicted to each other and met almost every night to be with each other. Mostly for the passionate love-making, but also for the deep connection we shared. Intellectually. Spiritually. He was mesmerising. Our love affair lasted until he died. I was broken and didn't look at another man the way I did him, until now. Jeremy was the spitting image of his father. I was staring at him. He shifted in his chair uncomfortably.

I caught myself, and apologised. I'm sorry, you look so much like him!

Jeremy nodded.

Look whatever this thing that you're looking for is, I'm going to have to go through the boxes in the cellar where I keep his belongings. Maybe we can look through it together, you can spend the night if you want. There is a guest bedroom and a washroom for you to clean up.

He smiled thankfully and nodded. I led him to the guest room and then retired to my bedroom upstairs, completely overwhelmed.

Laying down on my bed, just thinking about Frédéric again, all those old feelings resurfacing. My body shook just thinking about him as I longed to feel his hands on me again. It had been a long time since I had been with anyone, and I wondered about the man downstairs. If he had someone back home he cared about. I closed my eyes and fell fast asleep until a dull thud woke me up. It was light outside when I opened my eyes. After my morning ritual I pulled out a chartreuse coloured dress hanging in my closet. Frédéric used to love that dress. He said he loved the way it accentuated my curves. I laughed at the thought of that naughty twinkle in his eyes. The admiring way he'd look at me.

Walking down the stairs I could get the smell of toast and coffee wafting from the kitchen.

Jeremy turned around as I walked in and stopped for a little while. Wow! he said openly admiring me. Sorry for waking you, I'm afraid I'm a noisy clutz making a mess.

Clutz? I repeated. That sounds funny! It's okay, you are at home here, do as you like.

Sitting down with Jeremy for a cup of coffee felt familiar. Conversation flowed, he was charming and funny and he made me laugh. We got lost in each other for a little while. He was observing me very closely and I him. It was amazing, it was like being with Frédéric all over again. Those familiar feelings. It felt good, but I had to catch myself. Apart from the fact that Jeremy looked and sounded exactly like the man I once loved. I knew nothing about him. My mind was telling me to proceed with caution. Okay, so we can go down to the cellar. Hopefully we will find what we are looking for. The cellar was dusty and cold. We pulled out the boxes one at a time and started rifling through them systematically, crouching down on the cold tiled floor. I could feel the weight of Jeremy's stare boring into me. We stole looks until we were on our feet again, the sexual tension that had being building up became too much to bear. He pinned me up against the wall and kissed me very deeply and passionately, I moaned and pulled him closer. I longed for him, but as things started to intensify, I saw a glowing violet light eminate from one of the boxes. I broke free from the kiss and ran towards the box. There lying inside was a beautiful miniature replica of the Sacré-Cœur bathed in a violet glow. I lifted it out the box and the top fell open spilling out a beautiful heart shaped locket. When I saw it I knew immediately what it meant. I knew what I had to do to bring equilibrium back to the earth. I looked at Jeremy and said: have you ever been to Paris? And that's where our story began.....

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