We are drinking beers with friends on a Parisian terrasse in Montmartre. A football match is on TV. It’s Friday night. The bar is very crowded.
Suddenly, our phones ring. A friend wants to know if we were safe and tells us about the attacks.
A minute later the football broadcast is interrupted and switches to an information report. In the minutes that follow, only the ring tones of phones and text messages are heard. A strange silence, a sudden seriousness falls over the street and dispels the festive atmosphere. We are all calling, texting, reaching out to our loved ones.
We immediately think about the attack of Charlie Hebdo.
Every Parisian has the attacks of Charlie Hebdo in mind. It happened in January, in the same area of these new attacks. But this time, it’s very close to all of us for a new and terrible reason. It’s not an institution which has been targeted, neither a newspaper.
It’s people in the street like you and me. It could be us. What shocks us is the scene of the attacks. We lived for years across the street from the restaurant “Le Petit Cambodge,” where trendy Parisians go —and where so many were victimized on this day.
It is the same with the concert hall “Le Bataclan,” where we often went to see concerts of all kinds. These places are frequented by the trendy youth of Paris. We know so many people who live in this area. We don’t feel safe anymore.
It’s sure that taking the subway, going to a bar in a Parisian terrasse, or to a concert is colored, now, with a paranoid feeling: that these attacks are only the beginning of a series.
We don’t finish our beers this Friday night–we just go home. The street is not so reassuring and becomes suspect.
We also want to know more about the victims, the terrorists, the reactions — and maybe someone we know on the victim list. In a half-hour, the streets are empty. The television announces 120 dead already. All this is unreal, it is difficult to believe. It’s a scene of war.
We are angry and defiant about terrorism and we all wonder how the government is going to prevent more attacks, which can occur anywhere, anytime.
Laure Hassan is a movie director; Alexandra Monvoisin is a visual artist. They live in Paris.