Paris.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
short story of two lovers meeting again after being apart for five years. they meet by chance in a bar in paris, without either one knowing the other was even on the same continent.

Submitted: December 25, 2011

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Submitted: December 25, 2011

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You’ll see me late one night in a bar in Paris, the smell of wine and cigarettes heavy around you. It’s somewhere near Champs-Élysées, near the Cirque d’Hiver and the room is low ceilinged, musky and dim. It is the place of the artists, however, the place of musicians, actors and performers of all types. I’m with my flying trapeze team, our hearts still pumping from the adrenalin of the show. I’m sipping a glass of red and laughing and then talking in undertones; completely consumed by these, my closest friends, and reacting on minute instant by instant cues. You can tell the catcher, he is big and open and enthusiastic and you can see that he’s in love with me. Then there’s Ale, the Spanish boy who throws the triple, and my best friend with her perfect, straight legs.

You’ll see me and not be able to look away, you’ll be blown away by me, utterly entranced. You’ll think of the time we had and how it all went wrong, how we were on different paths and how we hurt each other. You’ll remember the dream you had, about being back in that old house where we first met, where we spent a few crazy weeks falling in love. You’ve been wondering where I am, how I’ve been and you think of the five years that it’s been, of the uncanny parallels that we drew all through our star-crossed love. I haven’t seen you yet and you’re almost too scared to come over. You don’t know who I am anymore, but you know how much I could hurt you. You know that I have everything, but you can’t see that you’ve got the same.

This was meant to happen. We’ve both been waiting for this moment. Strangely, I haven’t noticed you. Strangely, I haven’t felt you near me. I’ve been busy with a new show and new tricks. You leave your band without explanation and walk up to the bar.

‘Beer,’ you say, unsure of the norm in this city among so many cities. You hand over a few euro and take your drink. Lean on the bar and glance at me from the corner of your eye. You wonder how to break through, how to get past my companions and the wall of intimacy around us. You look at us like you do your band, a unit. How to separate a unit. You raise your glass to your lips.

I look up, notice something familiar about a man leaning on the bar. Messy hair and the curve of a shoulder, long fingers tapping out a beat. I freeze, throat constricted, eyes locked. I feel your spirit bursting from you like tidal waves, your heart racing to keep up. My consciousness narrows to two finite ideas; how to safely remove myself from the glass in my hand, and you.

Our locked gaze stirs the air between us to a crackling static and the energy shines blue and purple and red, red, red. My hand is lowering infinitely slowly to the table, my mind in the base of the glass, reaching for a stable surface. I haven’t seen you in years, haven’t seen you since the day I told you about the bird that is chained to the sky and the jailed man that is free.

Free, my glass touches the wood of the table. Free, I lift myself from the stool, reaching for the ground with my feet. I float to you and the world around us recedes. Without words you touch my bare shoulder, adjust the strap of my shirt just the way you used to. Then you move your hand down, rest it back to back against mine. I’m thinking about what I said, and the words I wrote about being. I’m thinking about how we parted, both of us broken into a million pieces, crying and hating and overwhelmed.

‘It happened.’ You mouth the words but I understand. I nod and a tear slips down my cheek. I can’t believe it is real. I don’t believe it.

‘Five years,’ I say. You nod.

‘What do we do?’ What do you do? What can you possibly do?

‘We leave.’

We leave. The air bites us as we step outside and you fold around yourself. We turn left out of the bar, towards the river. Past the circus, past my caravan. The tower is ahead of us, pointing to the sky and lit like a bridge to the stars. We cross the river and walk along the quay. We don’t touch. We don’t talk. A few lights flicker along the canal, a few cats lurk in the shadows, a salty breeze off the water.

‘What do we do?’ I ask again, distraught. What do you do? What can you possibly do?

‘I don’t know. I don’t know.’ My mind is racing and confused, a merry-go-round spinning at a hundred k’s an hour. French and English tangle together in my head as I think about what it used to be like and how I am now.

‘How are you now?’ I ask. The wind pushes your hair back behind your shoulders and I remember the shape of your neck.

‘I’m good,’ you say, ‘I’m different. And I’m famous.’

‘You’re famous?’ I’d made a point of not knowing, of not repeatedly slashing the same wound. I’d made myself forget, because sometimes things are just too painful.

‘We’re getting there. We’ve been touring a while.’

‘You got an album?’ I ask, trying not to mind, telling myself it doesn’t matter.

‘Yeah,’ you tell me the name. We’re quiet. What can you possibly do?

‘It’s got that song on it,’ you say quietly, ‘You know.’

‘Oh, yeah.’ I haven’t heard it in years, except in my dreams. I start to cry, quietly, but it’s not for you, it’s just because. We sit down on the edge of the quay and our feet swing above the slick water. I can feel my tears cutting tracks through the makeup that I’m still wearing, and how the cool breeze is sharp and stinging on my cheeks.

You start talking in a low voice, hands clutching the edge of the quay. You tell me about the song, about how you told everyone that it was for me. You say you missed me like death, everyday, but you didn’t know how to contact me or what to say. You tell me about your brief stint with cocaine and how I came to you in a dream and told you to grow the fuck up and get your shit together. And how you went cold turkey after that and surprised everyone.

The light next to us flickers and fizzes out and I feel myself expanding to fill the space. I talk to you about the trapeze, how it was when I left and why I’d been trapped with you. We’d all been trapped in a sedentary, twisted, weed smoking circle. We needed a shake up and I can see now that I was the only one present enough to do it. I’d planned that fight, I knew that you’d react. I’d needed your hate, I’d needed to be hurt, to have my chest ripped open and my heart torn out. I’d needed it more than anyone.

You pull out a cigarette and offer me one. You don’t hold me, and I wonder at the way we have always been on the same level, never needing any explanations. You look the same, but inside you’ve changed. I can almost see the way your brain restructured itself, worked out its ideas and became sure enough to act upon them. Your eyes are clear, strong and I know now that you’ve lived.

‘Everything stopped,’ you say, looking out at the coloured lights on the opposite bank, ‘with her.’

I make a non-committal noise in reply and a knife twists inside me. You’re quiet and thinking, I can tell by the tilt of your head.

‘And what are you like now?’ I ask. In my head I guess your answer to pass the time.

‘I’m better,’ you say after a while, ‘I know who I am and what I want. I hit harder. And I’m not confused. I’m not eighteen anymore. Or twenty, either. And I can see now, too. I’ve never seen you like this,’ you consider me, searching me like an artist, ‘I started taking pictures. On a real camera.’

‘You were always good at it.’ You shrug with your mouth and your right shoulder. You’re broader, calmer, and you’re more confident and humble.

‘You got good.’ I shrug, and lift my cigarette.

‘I kept an eye on you.’

‘I didn’t know.’

‘I watched all your videos and looked at all the photos of your torn hands and your bruises. I nearly called you about a hundred and fifty thousand times.’

‘Why didn’t you?’ I still don’t know if I can forgive, if everything can just be better.

‘I was scared. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know who you were anymore.’

‘I was just the same.’ The cigarette calms the riot in my head.

‘I didn’t know.’

At dawn we’re walking again, heading back to the city, to the circus. I feel dead tired and heavy and each step is an impossibility. I still don’t believe that you are here. I don’t believe that it could happen like that, the way we’d always said it would. The sun warms our backs and makes the water dance green and blue and silver with diamonds.

‘Turquoise.’

I smile, and remember the story. We walk across the bridge and down the streets where the cleaners are already out in their little golf cars, fixing the Friday night mess. I take you through the box office and around the side of the old big top, and you carefully dodge the come-alongs and guys and stakes. We weave between rows of caravans and storage trucks and people saluting the early morning sun and eventually we get to my home. I dig in my bag for the key and let you in. I can see you staring at the little space, amazed at the neatness and the compactness of it. I’ve hung the walls in fabric and art and it smells of opium incense. I shower and then you shower and when you get out I’m sitting on my bed, trying to count on my fingers the scant hours I’ve got before the matinee.

‘Will you stay with me?’ You pull on your t-shirt and a pair of my pants more slowly than you used to do.

‘Yeah.’ I can’t tell what you mean by that, but I’m so tired I don’t want to care.

‘I have to get up in three hours.’

‘You should sleep. I miss you.’

‘I miss you, too.’ You move over to my bed and I roll to the far side. I lie down and look at you.

‘Magic,’ you say, ‘that’s what we are.’

‘Yes,’ I say, ‘please don’t go.’

You take my hand ever so lightly in yours, ‘I’ll be here,’ you say, ‘you don’t have to worry.’ You wake me with your mouth close to my ear and your arm around my waist.

‘Wake up, Skye...wake up…’


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