Quite a Quote

     One day when the guard told me that I’d been in for five months, I believed it, but I didn’t understand it. For me it was one and the same unending day that was unfolding in my cell and the same thing I was trying to do. That day, after the guard had left, I looked at myself in my tin plate. My reflection seemed to remain serious even though I was trying to smile at it. I moved the plate around in front of me. I smiled and it still had the same sad, stern expression. It was near the end of the day, the time of day I don’t like talking about, that nameless hour when the sounds of evening would rise up from every floor of the prison in a cortege of silence. I moved closer to the window, and in the last light of day I gazed at my reflection one more time. It was still serious—and what was surprising about that, since at that moment I was too? But at the same time, and for the first time in months, I distinctly heard the sound of my own voice. I recognized it as the same one that had been ringing in my ears for many long days, and I realized that all that time I had been talking to myself. Then I remembered what the nurse at Maman’s funeral said. No, there was no way out, and no one can imagine what nights in prison are like.

Camus, Albert. The Stranger. New York: Vintage International, 1989.

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Zoë Tersche

Freelance writer focusing on internet freedoms and surveillance along with sexuality and gender in media and tech.

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