In the café

I paid. Madeleine took away my saucer. My glass crushes a puddle of beer, with a bubble floating in it, against the marble top. The bench is broken just where I am sitting, and to avoid slipping I am forced to press the soles of my shoes hard against the floor; it is cold. On the right, they are playing cards on a woollen cloth. I didn’t see them when I came in; I simply sensed that there was a warm packet, half on the bench, half on the table at the back, with some pairs of arms waving about. Since then, Madeleine has brought them cards, the cloth, and the chips in a wooden bowl. There are three or four of them, I don’t know how many, I haven’t the courage to look at them. There’s a spring inside me that’s broken: I can move my eyes but not my head. The head is all soft and elastic, as if it had just been balanced on my neck; if I turn it, it will fall off. All the same, I can hear a short breath and now and then, out of the corner of my eye, I can see a reddish flash covered with white hairs. It is a hand.

— Sartre, Nausea (trans. R. Baldick)

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