But sometimes our attention is divided, and we say that we want one thing, but we choose something altogether different. Alain can either write something meaningful or he can tend to his own perennial garden. Except we’re not really talking about gardening.
The story’s title offers a set of equal and distinct spaces between key words. The kind of space that might, in another writer’s hands, be occupied by a comma (or an ellipsis, or some other punctuation entirely). The title is rooted in a time predating Mathilde’s marriages, in the past, but it also—and-equally—represents the present and (by implication) the future.
But its significance is offered from Mathilde’s perspective, so there is a brief mention of her husband-to-be, but the women with whom Theo was intimate before Mathilde occupy the bulk of this passage:
“When Mathilde was in love with Theo and jealous of women she had never met, she used to go to an Indian shop, in Montparnasse, where first Emma, then Julita had bought their flat sandals and white embroidered shifts and long gauzy skirts, black and pink and indigo.”