Description du projet

Auteur petites histoires

Blue moon you knew just what I was there for,
You heard me saying a prayer for,
Someone I really could care for…

As Jack entered the small store, he was welcomed by the velvety voice of Billie Holiday. It immediately
gave him a soothing sensation as it triggered memories of his long-gone grandma Bettie. That piece was
one of her favourites and she played it dozens of times when he was visiting her as a child in Burlington
in the Green Mountain State of Vermont. Both that land and his grandmother owned a special place in
his heart. His American Mum had studied in Oxford and settled in England after falling in love then
with his British Dad. He would usually spend two to three weeks in the US during summertime. He grew
up listening to the Frank Sinatra’s, Louis Armstrong’s, and Ella Fitzgerald’s melodies, and, of course,
Billie Holiday’s too.

The music seemed to emanate from the back of the shop.

And then there suddenly appeared before me
The only one my arms will ever hold
I heard somebody whisper, ‘Please adore me.’
And when I looked, the moon had turned to gold…

The Jazz tune was a pleasant companion as Jack’s eyes explored his surroundings. The shop name ‘Un je
ne sais quoi’ had intrigued him. Golden letters on a navy-blue background, and a large white drawn daisy
after the words. No other description. The shop window contained an old-fashioned armchair in a baby
blue flowery pattern. An embroidered cushion featuring a sleeping ginger cat had been arranged on it. In
front of the seat, a mahogany coffee table covered with a pile of books, and fresh wildflowers in a
round-shaped vase. A mid-century floor lamp with a golden fringed shade and a vintage carpet finished
the scene. A typical comfy sitting room where your imagination could easily picture a granny knitting or

It was the first time in two years Jack had taken some real holidays. And he had decided to go to France.
More specifically to the small town of Séné in the Gulf of Morbihan in the south of Brittany. His friends
Kate and Max had recommended that area they visited the previous year. He had found a studio
apartment to rent for a week on AirBnB. Five minutes’ walk from the beach. First time by himself. First
time since Julie had passed away in that tragic accident. Jack had turned down several trips offers from
his friends and relatives. He wanted – needed – to spend time alone trying to reconnect with himself. He
had lost himself in his pain, piling hours in the office to numb it. Three months earlier, he had finally
accepted to see a psychotherapist. Diana Stevenson was attentive, easy to talk to, and not afraid to ask
provocative questions. He liked her. She had encouraged him to go away for a few days outside his usual
environment. ‘You need to create a space where you allow yourself to breathe. And strangely we
sometimes find solace in unfamiliar places.’ Trust your intuition, be more spontaneous was one of the
last pieces of advice she also offered before his journey from London by train.

As he wandered in the almost deserted streets of Séné on this cloudy morning of April, the shop
stopped him in his tracks, and he decided to follow that spontaneity streak in walking in.

At first glance, Un je ne sais quoi was a bookstore. Overcrowded shelves of volumes of all sizes. But it was
more than that. There were second-hand random objects and small pieces of furniture scattered around.
As Jack examined a tiny carved desk, he suddenly faced two green eyes. A large ginger cat was tucked in
the drawer, left ajar, and gazed at the tall man in his late 40s who had disturbed his siesta.

‘Oh hello, you,’ he whispered before scratching the head of the feline.

The human received a loud purring as a response. Then, as the fur ball reckoned this guest was inoffensive,
he turned around to adjust his body in his hiding place and closed his eyes.

Jack walked towards the source of the music, which seemed to originate from behind the counter.


The voice startled him. On his left-hand side, slightly above him, a petite lady stood at the top of a
ladder. Her round friendly face was framed with wild white neck-length curls. She wore some mint-
coloured dungarees over a flowery blouse, an unusual outfit for someone from her age. He guessed she
must have been over 60. Behind her glasses, two cheerful striking emerald eyes gazed at him.

‘Bonjour. Mon français n’est pas… très bien,’ he fumbled.
‘Oh, don’t worry, I speak English,’ she replied before stepping down the ladder with agility.

Next to his six-foot-two, she was even shorter than he originally thought. Maybe just above 5 feet.

‘Elizabeth Lamotte,’ she said extending a hand. ‘Everyone calls me Ellie. My husband was French, but I
was born and bred in Kent. I’ve been living here for almost 30 years now.’
‘Jack Dulcey.’ Her hand was so tiny in his. ‘Nice to meet you.’
‘Welcome to my humble shop, my Aladdin’s cave.’ She punctuated her words with an ample gesture
showing their surroundings.
‘I was intrigued by your window, I must say, didn’t know what to expect.’
‘Thank you, I take that as a compliment. I like to unsettle my guests at first, but what I cherish above all is
to find the object or book they needed without them knowing they needed it.’

Ellie smiled mischievously.
‘Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate? Hmmm, don’t say it…’

She disappeared in the back before Jack was able to answer. Definitely a colourful character, he thought. She
suddenly turned around, headed to an old turntable on the side of the counter and changed the record
before leaving again. The soft voice of Audrey Hepburn filled the space. Shivers ran down Jack’s spine.
Moon river.

Moon river, wider than a mile
I’m crossing you in style some day
Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker
Wherever you’re going, I’m goin’ your way

Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It was Julie’s favourite movie. He remembered the first time they had watched it
together at her place. It must have been their third or fourth date. They had snuggled on her worn-out
sofa, a plaid on their laps. She had punctuated the movie with little comments then and there. He had
found that charming. His heart had melted.

He could feel tears running down his cheeks. Oh, I miss you so much, my darling.

Ellie reappeared with two mugs in her hands. He turned his head away and quickly wiped his eyes.
The wise woman pretended not to have noticed.

‘Here you are…’

Jack cradled the hot drink in his palms. Two wings drawn in a simple black line contrasted against the white
earthenware. The smell – nutty chocolate with hints of orange aroma – immediately calmed his nerves.
The first sip was heaven.

‘Thank you,’ he whispered to the shop owner. When he looked up, he saw that she was watching him with
a benevolent expression on her face.
‘You’re welcome, my dear.’

She settled down on a wooden bar stool behind the counter and glanced towards the old turntable that
spun with grace.

‘Music brings us closer to the heartbeats we’ve forgotten,’ she said, her eyes moist with emotion.
‘You’re quite philosophical for a shopkeeper,’ he smiled gently.
‘Ah,’ Ellie chuckled, ‘but isn’t that the point? We all need a dose of wisdom now and then. Sometimes it’s in
a book, sometimes in a piece of music, and sometimes it comes from a chat with a stranger.’

Jack took another sip of his hot chocolate. The drink acted like a balm spreading through his whole body.
His eyes skimmed the aisles of books and vintage objects. He caught sight of the slumbering ginger cat in
the open drawer, and he felt a curious sense of peace. As if he was meant to be here in that moment.

‘Sometimes, it’s like the universe aligns just right,’ Ellie said as she read his thoughts.

‘How did you end up here, Ellie? From Kent to this quaint town in the heart of Brittany?’ Jack inquired,
intrigued by his perceptive hostess.
‘It’s a long story filled with twists and turns.’ Her eyes sparkled as her mind wandered in past times. ‘But if I
had to condense it, I’d say love and fate. I fell in love with a Frenchman, Jean, while I was on summer
holiday here. And before I knew it, I was leaving home to start a new life in Séné.’
‘And this shop?’ Jack prodded.
‘Well, Jean and I used to travel a lot, collecting little bits and pieces from every place we visited. And we
both love reading, often buying second-hand books when we had the opportunity. This shop became the
physical representation of our shared memories. When he passed away seven years ago, I felt an
overwhelming urge to share these memories, these treasures with others. I knew Jean wouldn’t have wanted
me to stay at home lingering in a mausoleum of our past life. That’s when I turned our private collection
into this store. I slowly replace the items which find new home as I come across other meaningful ones.
Each book, each object here has a story, an emotion attached to it. I like to believe that they’re all waiting
for the next rightful owner.’

The familiarity of loss, of trying to make sense of the void left behind by a loved one, resonated deeply in
Jack. ‘It’s beautiful,’ he whispered looking around.

In the background, the music continued to float and to envelop the two humans lost for a moment in their
thoughts. Jack swirled the content of the mug gently, letting the scent of the hot chocolate fill his senses.

Breaking the stillness, Ellie spoke softly observing with kindness the handsome man in front of her:

‘Tell me about yourself. What brings you to my little corner of the world?’
‘Julie. My wife. She would have loved your shop. And you,’ he let out in a murmur, more for himself,
before registering the question the good-hearted shopkeeper just asked. ‘Oh, it’s my first vacation in a long
time…’ He hesitated.

Whether it was the music that had awakened fond memories, or Ellie’s natural warmth, or perhaps the
oddly familiar comfort the place oozed, Jack felt enticed to confide in that stranger. Her presence had an
enchanting quality.

‘I lost my wife Julie two years ago and I’ve been drifting since then. Work, home, sleep… that’s been my

He paused, a lump forming in his throat. He took another sip of his drink to steady himself.

‘This trip is part of… well, finding a way to keep living without her.’

Ellie reached over to briefly place her tiny hand over his.

‘I’m sorry for your loss. The grief can drown us in darkness, and we’re left to find our way alone.’
‘Yes, I feel so lost without her,’ he replied, his voice choked with emotion.
She nodded. ‘What you need is a beacon to guide you out, to guide you through the pain and help you
move forward. The Universe has a way of leading us to where we need to be, even if we don’t realise it. It
led you to this shop this morning. You’re here now, taking a step, even if it’s a small one. That’s courage,

He looked up, tears blurring his vision. ‘I don’t know how I would ever be able to heal that
incommensurable wound.’
‘The wound is the place where the Light enters you,’ Ellie muttered, like the words suddenly came back to
the surface of her mind.

Her eyes twinkled as she spoke next. ‘I think I know what you need.’

She stood up and started navigating through the overcrowded rows of her shop. His curiosity piqued, Jack
followed her. As they moved, he noticed an antique camera here, a collection of porcelain tea sets there, a
delicately carved small wooden box there, each object exuding an air of timeless worth. Ellie stopped in
front of a narrow bookshelf hidden away under a staircase. She reached up, ran her finger gently over the
spines of the books and finally pulled down a slim worn-out mint-coloured volume. Handing it to Jack, she
said: ‘It’s for you.’

The moment Jack held it, he felt a profound wave of emotion. The title popped out against a beautiful
Eastern-looking yellow and green pattern. He read: ‘The Rumi daybook – 365 poems and teachings.’

‘Rumi was a 13 th -century poet, and so much more,’ Ellie explained. ‘A wise man who speaks of love that
infuses the world. It was one of Jean’s favourite poets. Maybe you’ll find something in it, a sentence, a line,
a verse, that talks to your soul. What I just quoted to you “The wound is the place where the Light enters you” is
from one of Rumi’s pieces.’

As he contemplated the message behind that phrase, for the first time in what felt like forever, Jack
perceived a momentary release from his sorrow. A glimmer of hope was within his reach, like the break of
dawn after a long, dark night.

‘Read it, converse with it, let those words and their wisdom sink in,’ Ellie softly resumed. ‘And write. You’re
carrying a weight, my dear. You need to let it out. Pen and paper can support you to release the pain. Let
them be a way for you to talk to your wife. Like a conversation between souls across the boundaries of
time and space. It will help bring you some peace.’

The wisdom of her words floated for a long moment between them. Their eyes locked in a meaningful
connection. Then, she moved towards another part of the shop, where a stack of leather-bound notebooks
had been displayed on a table. Jack followed silently.

‘We all need to capture our feelings, our memories somewhere,’ Ellie said, ‘especially the ones that arrive
when we least expect them. Like Audrey Hepburn on a quiet morning in a small store in Brittany.’

How could she read through me like that? Jack thought astonished.

‘Pick the one you feel guided towards,’ she continued gesturing over the table. ‘Consider it a vessel for your
journey ahead.’

His hand glided over the different covers. He took one notebook, then another, and finally grabbed a black
leather one with the single word ‘LIGHT’ carved on it.

‘That’s the one.’ He smiled. ‘Thank you, Ellie. For everything. I don’t know what to say. You’re a stranger,
yet it’s as you know me deeply.’
‘Oh, the soul has ways to recognising what it needs, even from a stranger.’
‘I think I was meant to find this shop today, and you, of course.’
‘And I believe I was meant to meet you too, Jack.’


That night, seated on his balcony under the light of a silvery-blue moon, Jack read a poem from Rumi and
wrote in the notebook for the first time. His words flowed freely. For a moment, the barriers between past
and present, between here and there, seemed to blur into insignificance. He felt Julie’s presence, as she was
talking to him. He reflected on his encounter a few hours earlier in that quirky little shop. It was as if the
walls had absorbed some of his sorrow, and in exchange given him a piece of unexpected comfort, a
hopeful beacon in his life. Un je ne sais quoi wasn’t just a store, it was a sanctuary for lost souls. And Ellie,
with her wisdom and grace, was its guardian angel.

On the radio in the background, Dinah Washington’s voice was singing ‘What a difference a day makes’.