Fourth Floor (Photography)

Fourth Floor
4e étage

by Joseph Charroy

From “Clarita,” a short story by Anna Kavan

I was lying on top of the still unmade bed. I had to get some sleep somehow. I was dead tired, but the rash kept me awake. At last I dozed for a few minutes. Then I was awake again, scratching. All the triangles had somehow collected in the folds of the sheet crumpled under me. They were pricking me with their points, and one had embedded itself in my thigh. The itching was intolerable by the time I'd extracted it, the sheet was burning my back.

I rolled off the bed, and standing there naked, thoroughly scratched my arms and armpits, my navel, my shins. I must have done some pretty thorough scratching before this, while I was still half-asleep, judging by the amount of blood. I was surprised my blunt fingers could produce those long, deep, bleeding furrows, which looked more as if they'd been inflicted by claws. Blood was running down my shins on to the floor and there was blood on the mattress as well as the sheet. 

Clarita appeared, in a long gold dress made of some soft silky stuff with a lustrous sheen and little ripples all over it, like calm water reflecting a sunset and ruffled by a light breeze. I could only think how lovely she looked. She must have said something I didn't hear, because she was gesturing with her hands and the nails flashed in the light. The next thing was that somehow my arm was around her, I was clasping her tight with one hand, while the other hand went on scratching until it hurt, and really I couldn't tell whether her hand or mine was tearing the flesh as I hugged her. I can't explain it. Then she pushed me so hard that I nearly fell over. I thought her beautiful dress must be covered in blood, but there wasn't a spot on it anywhere. That frightening look she had sometimes was on her face, I knew she was furious with me without listening to what she said. 

(from Julia and the Bazooka, published by Peter Owen Modern Classics.)


Joseph Charroy, born in 1982, lives and works in Brussels. After studying modern literature, he taught himself photography; his photographs often depict a wandering state and the passage of time. Check out his small publishing house Éditions Primitive, and his photography books, which were published by Éditions Lamaindonne. Visit his website here, and don't miss the rest of Fourth Floor!

His work is currently being exhibited at the Musée de la Photographie de Bruxelles