‘Anima’ – relating a legend filled with soul

It was a November evening. After three years of war, a tired soldier returned on leave to his native land, after a long walk. He let his steps guide him to the centre of the illuminated village, where people were dancing to the sound of an accordion.
He walked to the bar, made out of of a board placed on two trestles, and ordered an absinthe.
While savouring it, he noticed a girl at the other end of the dance floor. She stood motionless under the dim light of a street lamp, she was beautiful and she looked sad.
After a long moment their eyes met. He gave a faint smile, which she returned immediately.
Then, taking his courage in both hands, he passed through the crowd to join her. Timidly, they spoke.
Her name was Marie, his name was Thomas … then he invited her to dance.
While he now held her in his arms, the night carried away his fatigue and the war. She became his refuge and gave birth to feelings he had forgotten.
Dumé Photographies 3They danced huddled against each other, when suddenly he experienced a strange sensation, that made him increasingly uneasy. His cheek, leaning against Marie’s, conveyed an unusual coldness. She had cold hands, and from her eyes tears flowed. He dared not ask the reason of this sadness and without a word, tenderly, he covered her shoulders with his jacket, that he he had taken off.
On the square, some latecomers were taking a nightcap. The festivities were over and he offered to take her home. At first she refused, but he insisted and on the moonlit road, they went through the village up to her house.
On the doorstep, he said he wanted to see her again, but she replied that this was impossible; it was useless to insist, it was a waste of time. She tried to return his jacket but he begged her to keep it, and promised to pick it up the next day. With a last wave of the hand, Marie disappeared.
Thomas, despairing and anxious, waited until the following day which seemed very long to him. When it was a reasonable hour, he returned to the other end of village, and rang feverishly at the door of the house behind which Marie had disappeared. An old lady all dressed in black opened it; “as she looks like Marie!” he thought. He apologised to the old lady and told her he wanted to see Marie, because he had lent her his jacket the previous evening at the ball of the village, and wanted to collect it.
The old lady looked surprised him, begged him to enter, led him into the room where she invited him to sit down. She asked him to describe Marie; he made such a precise description she extended her hand trembling to a frame containing a discoloured photograph.
He immediately recognised the girl he had hugged the night before. “It’s Marie, said the old lady holding back her sobs, she was my daughter but she died – it will soon be thirteen years!”.
Thomas was shaken by this sudden revelation A mixture of incomprehension and anger knotted his stomach. No, it was impossible, he had not just been dreaming.
Suddenly he remembered the feeling of discomfort, this impression of coldness when he laid his cheek against Marie’s; and an indefinable fear overwhelmed him. Before his dismay, the old lady gently took his hand: “Come, she said, we will go and see Marie.”
When they arrived at the cemetery, there was a neatly folded jacket on Marie’s tomb.
Source: Contes et légendes de Corse Corsica Mea
Photo credit: Dumè photographie

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