Claude-Lucien Cauët

When I Was Little

I was smaller, before. That’s what I was told, and I believe it willingly. But small in what way? To answer, it would be enough to know where I came from. Yes, all right: my mother. I know that all the same! And yet? There, I think I am asking questions that don’t suit my age. Small as a fly, look, I was able to go out through her nose, easy; small as a lizard, through her mouth. Can we exit through the ears? A grain of sand, then, small, small. And towards the belly? It’s not made for that anyway! Or ? I feel like I’m on a slippery slope, inexplicably drawn down like a Helter Skelter; and the more I go down, the more I shrink; I know it because the trees and houses around me are getting bigger and bigger.

I was seven years old. I landed softly on a lawn whose grass blades were as high as the Eiffel Tower, with rocks like rocks in the forest of Fontainebleau. An ant, about the size of mammoth of old, spotted and approached me. Fear of fear, I cowered, and my body, sensitive to my distress, has shrunk again. Everything seemed now so excessive that I could no longer see any object, plant or animal. I thought I was safe because I was invisible and I should have stopped at this point. But I was compacted, rolled into a ball, so the process went on, and I finally found myself blind, because I had become smaller than the light.

Do you understand that? The grains of light hit me, jostled me, played billiards with my body, and it was not a good way to enlighten or enlighten me; but there was nothing left to tell. My eyes avoided these balls of fire by closing their eyelids onto absolute blackness. I obviously did not perceive any sound, the vibration of an atom would have crushed me; no smell, for a fragrant molecule would have measured a hundred noses, a thousand noses; no speaking of taste, since, with regards to my palate, there was no hope of finding anything remotely fitting its height. As for the last of my senses, that of Doubting Thomas, it was no longer usable; everything I could touch would have struck me on the spot.

Yet, I said to myself in my confusion, it’s still the world, the bedrock of the world, its base, its foundation. And it has nothing in common with the one in which I lived, it is even hostile to life, or rather, has a mortal indifference to life. What is this mystery?

Even if I managed to escape the incessant bombardment of the various particles, the frenetic round of electrons, and other fatal perils, I had nothing with which to feed myself and nothing to breathe. In any case, I was going to explode into a vacuum in a fraction of a picosecond.

A voice echoed: “But in the danger grows / That which also saves.” And I grew brighter and smaller, so that I occupied only one atom of space for an atom of time. I could not go further: there is a limit to shrinking. Nowhere and eternity. I was not risking anything, since nothing could happen. I could not die. The trouble is that I could not think either.

You assume that something has rescued me from this situation, if not I would not be telling you about it. Well, guess what? It is not God, of course; at this level, postulating his existence is even more stupid than it is on our normal level. No, it’s language, you imagine to yourself. Certainly, I could not put one word in front of the other logically, but there came in my head blocks of words given all at once. I do not remember all of them, but perhaps the last one, the one which pulled me out of this bad way, see, it was, I believe:

that everything dies if we are forgotten
relegated from the trip
ugly idiots who stink
my beautiful ladies my beautiful gentlemen
they shoot you and bog you
but you will not leave without them

Do not ask me how the event happened, how the words forced the reality of the world, I remember nothing but having suddenly found myself in adulthood, in a city on my scale, among a crowd where my size was not remarked upon. What happiness! I cried for joy.