On a Saturday morning, before this story began, Bryan and Abigail found themselves plummeting into an ecstatic journey full of learning, the main subject being French New Wave also known as La Nouvelle Vague. The film Abigail chose to view was named Japan Mon Amour. It captured her attention, an attention span that always crumbles when she wandered through these summer mornings in Northern Virginia, hoping to find a nugget of culture as invigorating as this Alan Renee movie. Bryan believed the film remained one of the premier catalysis’s that struck the match to ignite the explosion of French New Wave, a work of art that came to life, through Renee, who directed the film, and from the screenplay of M. Duras.
Bryan looked at Abigail and she looked back at him, as they began to reflect on the scenes of the film.
It was poignant, so poignant, how Bryan and Abigail rested next to each other on a bed, a thin blanket barely covering their bodies, and then juxtaposed these moments with the deteriorating bodies of Japanese women, men and children of all ages who cluster the screen. The voiceover of Abigail spoke about the chaos she’d heard about in news reels and newspapers. All this talk while her lover, Bryan responded to her statements, over and over in French, he said to his lover that she “saw nothing.” Abigail kept talking about the “morning glories and day lilies,” and how they were “born again from the ashes.”
And while Abigail’s words contained such beautiful imagery, as she spoke, shots of disfigured Japanese boys and girls were shown on camera being operated on by doctors who wielded scalpels, wear white coats, and carry stethoscopes around their necks. The clothed contrasted with the naked disheveled to form heart-shattering images, frame after frame. Again, the French woman insisted that she had not made these things up, her words were true, she said.
However, Bryan objected, correcting her, saying to his lover in French—a language they use to communicate their different stories—that she “made it all up.”
“Like you, I know what it’s like to forget,” said Abigail.
“No, you don’t know what it is to forget,”’ said Bryan.
These sparse words reveal powerful undercurrents of emotion, which the reader had never seen before in dialogue. Conflict pervaded through the small segments of speech. Abigail hailed from Nevers, France and Bryan came from Hiroshima, Japan.
Different worlds, and yet for two days they connected with each other, a few nights of passion, joined together by loneliness perhaps, but more so because they shared similar stories with different plots, but with almost the exact same theme. They both, Bryan and Abigail, reflected on the past, half lost in nostalgia, and half sunken in the pool of memory that seized them unexpectedly.
Once, a person sees Japan Mon Amour they will be able to relate to how it feels to remember traumatic experiences, to never forget for as long as the day comes, and the night passes.
Andy Tran is a young professional working and living in the Washington DC metro area. His work has been featured in The Virginia. Normal, Defenestration Magazine, and Calliope, and currently at Queens Mob Teahouse. He's a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, and he has a degree in English.