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Letter From Montreal: Death in a French Class

Letter From Montreal: Death in a French Class

Twelve immigrants, taking twelve hours of government-funded French classes a week for eleven weeks.

Illustration by Pascal Girard.

The game is the reverse of “Never Have I Ever.” Each of us shares a story about something we have done, and no one is drinking. You’d think this would make it less interesting.

“I’ve seen a ghost,” one of my classmates says.


Two others hold up their hands, which means: I have seen a ghost, too. No one seems amused or skeptical. It’s a rare moment of solemnity. Usually the class is filled with quips, jokes and arguments in halting français.

The first student’s story: her family moved into a new house when she was eight. A former occupant had impaled himself after a jump from the third-floor balcony; it soon became an accepted household fact that his ghost made occasional appearances. Behind the shower curtain. In front of the stove. Sitting with you in the yard if you ...

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