Before I Leave You

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Summary

Before I Leave You tells the story of Aurélie, a Parisian art photographer who disappears in the Central African Republic, and Helena, a woman with a cello prodigy daughter and a big secret. Helena Aubrie leads an unremarkable life in London with her daughter and husband. Aurélie lives in a remote and dangerous part of the Central African Republic with her idealistic doctor husband. Ten years ago, they met randomly, an encounter that still resonates in both their lives.... Before I Leave You is a novel that considers the delicate and powerful complexities of the human heart. A central theme is the blurring of lines between attraction, and love, and sexuality, and how black and white are painfully inadequate at depicting the intricacies of love. A question raised in the novel’s central themes is: How far should you go for the love you never could forget? And; can you justify walking out on your whole life to find someone unlikely to ever be found, someone you can’t stop loving? The story also touches upon the often-complicated relationships between mothers and daughters, and the legacies these leave. The novel is a reflection on, and a celebration of, the opposites that rule us but needn’t be mutually exclusive; past and present, regret and forgiveness, black and white, man and woman, head and heart, light and darkness.

Genre:
Drama / Romance
Author:
Alexandra Bockfeldt
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
23
Rating:
5.0 3 reviews
Age Rating:
16+

Introduction

You do not know that I am leaving, that when you wake up I will be gone. Where you are, shrouded in deep sleep, everything is peaceful, and I hope it will always be like that for you. That you can be happy, even after this. Before I go I want to sit here for a while, by your side, without touching you; I don’t want to wake you. Actually, of course I do, but I would not be able to leave if you looked into my eyes and asked me not to go. Perhaps that is not what you would have done, had you woken up; perhaps you would have kissed me one last time and stood silently watching from the doorway as my taxi turned around in the icy driveway before driving off. Of course, that would have been much worse.

Before I leave you, alone, I cast a last glance around the room, trying to burn it into my mind; the brown-black timber walls, the chubby snowflakes that have crept towards the top of the windows overnight, the cool moonlight coming in from a small window high up on the wall, throwing a square of light on the floor in front of the fireplace, the last orange embers in the hearth. Before I leave you, I will stir them so you will not wake up cold. I get up and stand motionless a long moment to make sure I did not rouse you, but you continue your deep, calm breath and I take a couple of steps away from the bed. Another couple, and I’ll be out the door. I stand still for several long minutes with my eyes closed, committing the sounds and scents of this room to memory; the occasional low crackle of the fire, your breath, the scent of birch wood burning, of snow-drenched clothes hanging to dry, high above the flames.

I can see you when you wake in my mind’s eye; you sit up in the deep, narrow bed we have shared and realize that you are alone. Perhaps you rub at your eyes in the hope of suddenly seeing me over in the kitchen corner. You will see the burst of fresh flames in the fireplace and know that it isn’t long since I left. But still you are unaware, sheltered in another world- a world where anything is possible; even you and I. I intensely wish you to wake up now so I can look into your eyes one last time, but you do not, so I take another couple of steps towards the door, open it and look out at the taxi growling in the driveway, at the road spiraling down into the valley, at the moon still hanging high on the night sky, and take a deep breath of Hardangervidda’s icy, dry air for the last time.

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