During the night, still a long time before dawn, while the walkers are going along the beach, she asks him a question she’s been wanting to ask him for several nights.
‘What you meant was that paying for time spent in this room was paying for time lost, wasted. Wasted by the woman?’
At first he can’t remember, then he does.
‘Wasted by the man, too. Time that he had no further use for.’
She asks him what he’s talking about.
He says, ‘Like you, about our affair, about the room.’
‘The room is no use now either,’ he says. ‘Everything in it has stopped.’
He must be on the wrong track. He can’t ever have thought it would be of any use. What use could it have been?
She says, ‘You said the room was to keep people here, with you.’
He says that applied to young male prostitutes, but not to this case.
He has stopped trying to understand. So has she.
She says, ‘It was also so that they had to go, had to leave you, when the time was up.’
‘Perhaps. But I was wrong, I didn’t want anything.’
She looks at him a long while, her gaze taking him and keeping him shut up inside her till it hurts. He knows it’s happening. And also that it’s nothing to do with him.
She says, ‘Perhaps you’ve never wanted anything.’
Suddenly he’s interested. He asks, ‘Do you think so?’
‘Yes. Not ever.’
He’s the sort of man who doesn’t notice whether something is said by himself or by the other person, doesn’t notice who answers questions, even if they are put by himself.
‘It’s possible. Never wanted anything.’
He waits, thinks, says, ‘Perhaps that’s what the matter is. I never wanted anything, ever.’
Suddenly she laughs. ‘We could leave together if you like. I don’t want anything anymore either.’
He laughs too, but with a sort of uncertainty, of apprehension, as if he had just escaped from some danger, or from some piece of good fortune he hadn’t asked for.
– Marguerite Duras, Blue Eyes, Black Hair (tr. B. Bray)