Porte de Montreuil, or, Montreuil rather, is known for hosting a flea market every weekend.
It’s not your hipster flea market where you find antiques and little gems. It’s more like a place where you go get fleas. The stalls are all crammed up against each other in a sort of organized chaos, tattered clothes and shoes lay in piles for people to scavenge through, men catcall and sell “Marlboros pas cher”…
Anyway, weekends are never relaxing in my neighborhood. There are always big crowds coming to and from the market, the metro is packed with people carrying boxes or large bags. Even indoors, you can clearly hear the rhythmic sound of the hooves from the horses of mounted police patrolling the streets, or the children during their soccer matches across the building in the sports complex.
The morning of Saturday, November 14th, I opened my eyes to utter silence.
When I say that it was time to begin to grieve, I do not mean it in a dramatic way. It’s an essential part of the process. The deafening silence outside my window reminded us of what had happened just a few hours before, the sun shone for a little while, as if mocking us; the soccer field was empty, there was no market, no sound of hooves, no people.
What happened? How could they do this? How are people so twisted, so perverse, so evil, so sordid, so demented? Could this have been prevented? Is it the government trying to start something? Is this part of some crazy conspiracy to sell arms? Why would they target their own citizens? When is it going to happen again? How are we preparing for the next attack? Did they get those guys?
Should we go out and show our defiance? Should I stay home just in case? I’m sure people are out! We debated the question time and time, but hesitation kept us indoors. A report of an “explosion” (which later turned out to be just firecrackers) in a town next to ours made it clear it was the right decision.
At some point, though, we were going to have to go outside. But how to gather the courage?