This article combines theory, analysis and creative writing to explore what it means to write absence. The two novels discussed, Martine Delvaux’s Blanc dehors (2015) and my own, Toi (unpublished), deal with absent fathers, but their true concern is absence itself, and the result is a troubled, perforated narrative. Drawing on feminist definitions of what it means to trouble, as well as on translation theory and discussions of translingual writing, the article explores the sense of fragmentation that comes from a layered self and narrative, and the resulting investigative mode the narrators of these novels live in. Through a discussion of the techniques used to create a sense of the underlying narrative of absence, the article argues that the process of bringing two opposites— narrative and non-narrative— ‘on a single surface’ highlights the need for both (Simon, 2006, 219). Troubled texts remind us of our plurality; they deconstruct it, study it, celebrate it. In the case of these two novels, the acceptance of plurality is closely linked to the mothers, who share in the narrative of absence. The narrators’ ultimate acceptance of absence as a narrative in its own right heals the divisions they imposed on themselves and allows them to reconnect to the mothers’ narratives.