Bea B. walks the whole length of the great hall. A row of gleaming counters lines one wall from end to end. Above the counters are red circles, golden stripes, blue panels, white panels. Flags. And then, writing:
PAN AM LUFTHANSA IBERIA ALITALIA
LOT KLM BEA JAL GARUDA
crazy words, scraps of mute words that flash on and off. The counters are empty. The vast brightly-lit hall is full of empty counters. Bea B. sits down in one of the red imitation-leather armchairs facing one of the counters, and studies the posters and bits of paper fastened to the wall. Monsieur X remains silent, too, as he smokes a cigarette. Bea B. studies the advertisement-ashtray that has PAN AM written on it in big white letters, together with a caricature of the world and its meridians. She notices that the ashtray contains three crushed stubs and some ash. Then she picks up her red plastic travel bag that has TWA written on it in big white letters, and takes from it a little blue vinyl-covered notebook that has ‘EZEJOT’ DIARY written on it in gilt letters, and writes very slowly:
The dreadful silence that accompanies me everywhere.
[War, Le Clézio, J. M. G.]