by Elizabeth Gibson

This is a guide to Cabestany which is near Perpignan in France. Everybody is saying there is nothing here and it is rubbish. Jacques says it is boring. But I like it here. The first place you can go is the circle in the centre where they used to have markets. Well, actually they might have them still, I have not been for a long time, I think four years and a half. There is not anyone to go with me and I do not feel like going on my own, though I could. But they had cheese and soaps and games like trapping a duck on a baton, and you could get churros from a machine. They were so delicious. I miss them. Papa and I always would get them. I recommend them to you if they are still there.

The second place to go is the cinema. I do not think it is really a cinema. It has only one room. Marc has looked at my essay and said it is not and have I not seen a real cinema. WELL OBVIOUSLY NOT MARC. It is okay for you. You have a sister and a brother and… people. Anyway, I went there with the school once and we saw a film with Astérix. It was good but everyone seemed to find it more funny than me. Maybe I did not understand all the jokes. And I went with Maman once, I think… it would have been a long, long time ago but I think it happened. I think we saw something sad. Something not like Astérix. Nobody laughed. I think we cuddled. It must have been ages ago if we did. Anyway, the cinema is a good place to go and I do not think it is too expensive so I recommend it.

The third place is the bakery which is quite near the cinema and is in the middle of a big circle of road like a castle in a moat. See, there is a good word, Marc. (The English of Marc is so bad. So I am getting my own back. Haha!) I walk there sometimes, it is twenty-two minutes from my house. I have to cross a lot of roads but I take care. We used to get pizza there and bring it to our house. They know me there and they smile at me and they always seem to look at each other in a sad way. I smile and try to laugh so they know I am fine. I normally have a chocolatine which is something special from our region and it is like a croissant with chocolate. I always go at night so they are a bit hard. But I like them. I sit outside where there are some tables. Often there are people who smoke which reminds me of Maman. I try to breathe it in without being too clear because they might think I am crazy like they used to at school until I did an exam to show I am not.

The final place is just a road that starts at the bakery and goes into the country. If you walk for eleven minutes you reach a place that is all black and silent and you are all alone. It feels like you are the only person in the world. There are people who say that Perpignan is the centre of the universe but I think that place where I stand in the road out of Cabestany is the actual centre. There are hardly any cars and no lights. The stars are so clear and white. Sometimes they scare me. I do not know why. Maybe it is because they are always there and always the same and I cannot influence them or change them. But I love them too. I cannot stop that. Sometimes my heart has a great pain and I think I might fall over and die and probably nobody would know until the next day when the light would come. I would almost like that. If I could choose where to die it would be there, I think.

So there is Cabestany, a small but exciting village in the south-west of France. I hope you have enjoyed my guide!

Jacques has read some of this and says I am lucky to be able to go places on my own. I suppose maybe that is correct. I wish I could not though. I wish somebody would maybe come and find me. I could choose a friend with whom I can share the stars. Jacques, Marc, Emma? No. None of them will be allowed to walk on their own at night. I will have to keep doing it on my own. Maybe that is better, anyway. Nobody can hear me. Because here is a SECRET: I sing, sometimes. I sing. It feels so nice. That is why I do not fall over dead on the dark road. And I hope the stars listen to me. Sometimes I think I hear them applaud.

THIS IS MARC. CÉCILE CANNOT SING SHE LIES.

You have never heard me Marc. Can you sing?

I DO NOT KNOW I HAVE NOT NEVER HAD NEED TO.

Well then. I must need to sing.

MAYBE.

Yes.

Elizabeth Gibson is a Masters student at the University of Manchester and a Digital Reporter for Manchester Literature Festival. She is a member of The Writing Squad and her work has appeared in The Cadaverine, London Journal of FictionFar Off Places, Octavius, Severine and Ink, Sweat and Tears. She won second prize in The Poetry Society’s 2016 Timothy Corsellis Prize. She  blogs at http://elizabethgibsonwriter.blogspot.co.uk and tweets at @Grizonne.