"...But perhaps for them it was something else." This was what he thought, listening stretched out on his bed while, like some sort of sticky slaver, their thought filtered into him, lined him internally. There was nothing to be done. To avoid it was impossible. Everywhere, in countless forms, "deception" ("The sun is deceptive today," the concierge said, "it's deceptive and you risk catching your death. That was how my poor husband... and yet he liked to take care of himself...") everywhere, in the guise of life itself, it caught hold of you as you went by, when you hurried past the concierge's door, when you answered the telephone, lunched with the family, invited your friends, spoke a word to anybody, whoever it might be.
You had to answer them and encourage them gently, and above all, above everything, not make them feel, not make them feel a single second, that you think you're different. Be submissive, be submissive, be retiring: "Yes, yes, yes, yes, that's true, that's certainly true," that's what you should say to them warmly, affectionately, otherwise a rending, an uprooting, something unexpected, something violent would happen, something that had never happened before, and which would be frightful.
It seemed to him that then, in a sudden surge of action, of power, with immense strength, he would shake them like old soiled rags, would wring them, tear them, destroy them completely."
Underneath this heat there was a great void, silence, everything seemed in suspense: the only thing to be heard, aggressive, strident, was the creaking of a chair being dragged across the tiles, the slamming of a door. In this heat, in this silence, it was a sudden coldness, a rending.
At times the shrill notes of locusts in a meadow petrified by the sun and as though dead, induce this sensation of cold, of solitude, of abandonment in a hostile universe in which something anguishing is impending.
In the silence, penetrating the length of the old bluestriped wallpaper in the hall, the length of the paint, she heard the little click of the key in the front door. She heard the study door close.
She remained there hunched up, waiting, doing nothing.
She did not move. And about her the entire house, the street, seemed to encourage her, seemed to consider this motionlessness natural.
It appeared certain, when you opened the door and saw the stairway filled with relentless, impersonal, colorless calm, a stairway that did not seem to have retained the slightest trace of the persons who had walked in on it, not the slightest memory of their presence, when you stood behind the dining room window and looked at the house fronts, the shops, the old women and little children walking along the street, it seemed certain that, for as long as possible, she would have to wait, remain motionless like that, do nothing, not move, that the highest degree of comprehension, real intelligence, was that, to undertake nothing, keep still as possible, do nothing."