(This is just the first scene from the first chapter. I hope to continue writing! Please leave feedback, it's very important to me. Thank you. Have a nice day!)
The clock lands one twenty-five. I gaze down at my reflection from the ring Mémé left me before she passed. It's the most captivating thing in my possession, it wasn't something brought with wealth; it wasn't something that came in a fancy box. It was given to me unaided, like the very moment it was shaped into this world.
I have never been fond of jewellery, but this simply represents more than that to me and it isn't just a ring I'd wear to show off or boast about. This is my past, present and future. Its rusted silver bind, braces together two oval shaped feathers that protect a Tapioca sized, emerald gem. Mémé's gem. My beautiful grand-maman's gem.
For the first time this semester, I neglect everything being said at my preferred lecture, it seems that gazing down at 'Le portale de la liberté'- my ring, is a necessity right now. And that's exactly what it is, a portal to freedom. The amount of wonders and desires that have raided my mind when loosing myself in this gems beauty, are countless. It is an escape.
I can't believe she's gone...How? I pluck the courage to lift my head for the first time in the past hour, as I look around at all these heads around me, I wonder about the meaning of life, I question how is it so that one minute we're something, someone, alive and moving, and then the next we're nothing. No feelings, no awareness...no heartbeat. Death. Death I will never understand, I guess neither will those who have become it...I wonder what it's like to feel Death's knock on the door, the last few breaths, the vision of nostalgic memories flashing like the perfect montage everyone hopes to show their grand-children one day. I wonder.
'Oh!' I'm startled by the sudden movement of hungry undergraduates rushing to avoid the queue at the lunch bar.
Professor Olivier softly calls me over as I descend to the exit door.
"Odette, I would like to offer my condolences to you and your family." He whispers, making sure no one hears.
I gaze at him bewildered-how does he know?
"Your father called me to notify your absence for the rest of this week and next." He reveals sympathetically to my unspoken thoughts.
I gaze at his grey and black stubble as he chatters on about needing a friend and of course where to find all my missed work on the faculty website. He's not bad looking for a man in his late forties; you can tell he looks after his appearance... combed grey hair, neat suit and perfectly shaped eyebrows.
"Odette? Are you sure you're okay."
I snap out of my reverie.
"Oui, I mean Yes Professor. Thank you, I'll see you in two weeks."
I scurry out of the double doors and head for the one way system staircase which I decide to defy, I cannot be bothered with the rules of Cornelius II today, despite the circumstances, I'm glad to get away from university for two weeks.
As I reach the main entrance, I am welcomed by the soft breeze of French November air; I inhale and exhale deeply in attempt to pull myself together.I'm quite fond of studying here; it's not your typical modern university - the ones where almost everything is made of blue carpet and artificial, Birch wood. Cornelius II is aged, and with age comes wisdom. This place is an old soul, just like me - or so Méme used to say.
It's my fourth year here. Pappa insisted that I moved to L'insitute Claude Pierre for my Master's degree as it was ranked first place as best university in France, but Cornelius has my heart captured. It's become my home - and not far off on the league table either. I wonder how many people can say they've lived in a 1970's castle, it brings me warmth, that snug ambience I fail to sense at my parents home, fifty-four kilometres away.
As I walk down the crowded hallway steps; my mind relives the first time my eyes encountered the large French, Oak doors, the echoes of hysterical undergraduate's footsteps, the hand painted walls by the nuns who used govern. The chill of the cold-stone staircase that led to the five old lecture rooms on the fourth floor and the one way system, narrow enough for one, maybe two bodies to walk down. That always had my curiosity. Rumour has it that the staircase was built for easy access to the utility room in the early 1900's where students would be punished for inappropriate behaviour, such as misspelling a word.
I shake the thought away and recall the outside of the castle, a home for kings, a kingdom for the great. A castle made of different tones and shades; brown, grey, vine red - it was beautiful, the first glance and I knew... it was home.
I glance over my shoulder and regard Emma sprinting in my direction as she almost jumps and brings me into her embrace.
"Oh Detta, I'm so sorry, I heard about your grandmother, I know she meant a great deal to you. Are you alright? Is there anything I can do?"
I hold my tears back as Emma holds me tightly, although I confide my life and soul to her, I know I need to save these tears for tonight's ceremony in England.
"I'm okay, Em." I mutter.
I clutch on to her, hard.
She holds me back - she's a comfort.
"Come, let's go home, honey." She takes my arm and glances at me sympathetically.
"No, I need to go and buy a new book." I murmer as I gaze down at the snot and smudged mascara I've stained on her grey hoodie.
She looks at me puzzled.
"For the flight, later." I enlighten her.
"Oh, I'll come with you. That will give me a chance to do some shopping! We've been living of ham and cheese toasties Odette! We disgrace the French! Time to stock up the fridge!"
I giggle; Emma can make a frowning clown look radiant with joy. She's my rock, an inspiration if you like - a sibling I never had. Emma is gorgeous, a large face covered by a mass of Chestnut dead-straight hair, always tied in a pony tail. Those attractive pale lips and perfectly distributed teeth, but the one thing that makes Emma stand out; her eyes, large, green, beaming eyes.
She doesn't look English at all; it's her final year at Cornelius before she returns to her home in Surrey, England. I don't know how I am going to cope my final year without her- I immediately erase the thought - there's enough to dwell on today.
Arm in arm, we stroll towards the first exit down Avenue L'enseignement Supériur and head towards La Grande Rue Bonaparte; despite it being named 'large' it is quite the very opposite... You can't expect to find much on the outskirts of Paris; it has the essentials for a student to survive.