Illustration by Lauren Raaijmakers

Book Club#4: The Short Deconstruction Of Love – A Short Story

“Last Night” is the first piece of the short story “The Short Deconstruction Of Love”. The story is written by the French artist Léo Lalanne-Berdouticq. Illustrations by Lauren Raaijmakers.

Illustration by Lauren Raaijmakers
Illustration by Lauren Raaijmakers

This city has a lot to offer, I always expected, from the darkness of clubs to the intense heat of the summer, deep adventures where I could learn from and grow as an individual. I met through this journey souls like mine and this story is not only personal but reflects my generation.

Illustration by Lauren Raaijmakers
Illustration by Lauren Raaijmakers

Part 1 – Start

I arrived in London few years ago, based in France for most of my life, I always dreamed about living in the great British capital. Carried away by my dreams, I took the big step of moving in early 2010.

One summer night, which seemed like any other, I was walking down Broadway Market after a few casual drinks with friends at the pub, without acknowledging the fact, that this night, the 8th of August 2013 would change my life completely.

I always followed my feelings; wherever they would take me I would still truly believe in them. Destiny is written, waiting for your soul, your inner self has to reach it or taking any appropriate actions to make it a reality. Life, I guess, is surprising, but I would never have expected this…

I remember it, as if it was yesterday. I had this feeling of oppression while I was making my way home, a feeling that I have barely experienced in my life. I decided to sit on a bench along the canal; it was 1:00am precisely. Looking at the lights, reflecting on the edge of my glasses, I sat there, empty minded.

1:15am – A silhouette came out of the dark, walking towards me, smoking a cigarette. The smoke suddenly reached me and I heard, coming from a deep silence almost surreal and only disturbed by the noises of shoes against the floor, a male voice saying “Would you mind if I take a sit ?”. Within seconds, emotions were crossing my mind and making my heart beat faster and faster. I was scared, surprised, intrigued, my hands were shaking. Finally, after a brief instant I said “Please do”.

My vision was blurred by the intensity of the night but I noticed a smile, one of a kind, calming me down. “I did not mean to scare you” – he said. I looked over my shoulder, invited by the tone of his voice which sounded unexpectedly familiar, I finally replied “I’m not scared, I mean not anymore”. I nervously laughed and took my last Marlboro Light out of my clutch.

He started smoking with me. “My name is James by the way, I thought I would have been the only one looking for a place to sit quietly at this time of the night, I guess we both have this need”. We spoke for a long hour about life and our attraction of this mysterious city. James was American and from San Francisco. He recently moved to experience a certain renewal in his life, a refreshing start and he said himself “I always felt attracted to London, something, someone is out there able to change the direction of my life. I admit it is a bit surreal, changing all you have and always had for the sake of a feeling”. From this moment, I knew that James and I were not only sharing words or spaces for minutes or a night, but something even stronger going beyond conscious control.

final 3

Part 2 – La Proposition

If one day your thoughts exceed your mind and go beyond reality, the meaning of your destiny has changed”- Léo

2:30am – “I think it might be time for me to go” said James. Terrified by the idea of not seeing each other again, I proposed a glass of red wine at mine. He gracefully directed his hands to my shoulders, slowly brushed them and smiled. I took a deep breath, waiting for his answer. I felt like the time was suspended, waiting for a response… “I would love that”.

It was late. He followed my step, carried by the momentum of our gracious movements. Sometimes through life, expectations don’t become reality; the unexpected only exist and make these moments even more special. I felt special, unique. Meaning and explanation do not have any matter at this point. Freedom, is taking you away from the darkest part of your imagination, and opening yourself to the light. After a while, he directed his hand towards mine, held it for a second, which strangely felt like a dream. This continuous dream felt as real as me breathing, living. We finally arrived at my apartment, it was 2.40am.

“I shouldn’t say something like this, but I never really care about what I should or shouldn’t say, I’m glad I met you tonight. I’m glad I decided to sit down next to you. I’m glad I did something I never had the courage to do before” James said. These few words left me silent. I could hear the noises of cars outside, and this was all I could hear at this point. Seconds later, I finally realised the meaning of his words and I said with a brief hesitation “I am glad I met you too, I was miles away from expecting this”. It was true. It was almost 3am and I could have never expected the past, present or future of this, good or bad.

3:02am – I leaned towards my vintage record collection, piled up in the corner of my desk next to a couple of books, of which mainly poetry. Allen Ginsberg and Oscar Wilde had a special place and influence with me, and not only in the comfort of my own room. I finally grabbed Françoise Hardy’s record and let the lyrics transports James and I somewhere not yet explored by the both of us…

« C’est le temps de l’amour, le temps des copains et de l’aventure. Quand le temps va et vient, on ne pense a rien malgré ses blessures. Car le temps de l’amour c’est long et c’est court, ca dure toujours, on s’en souvient.

On se dit qu’a vingt ans on est le roi du monde, et qu’ éternellement il y aura dans nos yeux tout le ciel bleu »
– Françoise Hardy

Illustration by Lauren Raaijmakers
Illustration by Lauren Raaijmakers

Part 3 – Le Touché

3:07am – He vigorously put his arms around me, I could see the deep blue of his eyes, I could feel his breath softly on my neck, his passion, through the way it was intensely looking at me. Our space was bathed in silence, only interrupted by the fury of our passionate adventures. For the very first time, I was transported. The precision of his hand on my skin made my entire body shiver. As our chests collided, the most intimate part of him drove me drunk and beautifully intoxicated by his presence.

4:00am – We reached the ultimate pleasure. James and I at this moment, at this exact second, where both our souls and minds merged together and made one. That moment where two human being share the most intense feeling sharable, they lose any differences noticeable and frivolousness for a second.

I wondered, Is this the definition of love ? Is love the expression of primary need ? Are these primary needs the definition of being human and alive ?

I am looking for answers but first come the questions.

Illustration by Lauren Raaijmakers
Illustration by Lauren Raaijmakers

Part 4 – L’Après

The weight of the world is love.

Under the burden of solitude,

under the burden of dissatisfaction

the weight, the weight we carry is love” – Allen Ginsberg

10:30am – I opened my eyes, the sun was brushing its strong lights on the edges of my pupils. It did not take me long to realise that James was already gone. Only his smell was left gravitating around the bed. I felt hurt. I looked over my desk and I noticed a note left on one of my favourite poetry book. Why did he have to leave it just there ? I thought to myself. I wasn’t sure if I should read the note, I did not want to face any truth or break any fantasy. I decided to ignore it for a while; played the same record from last night, the same songs, giving me the same illusions as if last night was now again. I then took a shower, letting the cold water clean my thoughts.

Illustration by Lauren Raaijmakers
Illustration by Lauren Raaijmakers

04:02pm – When I finally took the note, my hands trembling I was anxious and could read, clear as day, black on white; “John, I couldn’t stay, sorry. Call me, I wanna see you again. James x”

Photography by Gabriele Corredu
Photography by Gabriele Corredu

Written by Léo Lalanne-Berdouticq or

All illustrations by Lauren Raaijmakers