Lid of Louise’s box

Lid of Louise’s box

Would you like to open it?

When I was a little girl growing up in Paris in the early 1980s, an old woman who lived a few floors up from my apartment died alone. Her name was Louise Brunet. She had no remaining relatives to come fetch her belongings, so the landlord had to clear them all out. He let the other tenants in the building scavenge through her stuff and take home silverware, jewelry, whatever they wanted. My mother salvaged a small box filled with mementos: old love letters from WWI, mesh church gloves, dried flowers, a rosary—many objects worth nothing but memories. This box is the sepulchre of Louise Brunet’s heart. The story behind the objects is lost; the objects are now the story.

As I have carried this strange box through life and across the world, I have always intended to make a book out of it. This book now exists; you hold it in your hands. The Louise Brunet depicted within it is a fiction; the real Louise Brunet is irretrievable. Still, she gave me the stars. I merely drew the constellations.

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