13 Nov 2012

2 Shades of Paris

2nd installment



...the following day

I make chitchat with a street vendor outside the Notre Dame who excitedly shows me an eighteenth century manuscript of the Bible.  I watch as he fumbles through the pages of his most prized possession with the purest of pride.  He turns it over and I squeal at the price tag.  His neighbour points poetically at his antique collection of toy soldiers and I hold them up to the sun delicately, afraid the forever chipping paint might seal my fingers.  I then spend the early afternoon getting lost in Shakespeare’s company amongst piles of dusty books which have that glorious, pungent smell of leather. I tiptoe quietly behind a stack of books and delve in before I am awoken from my reverie by a young child hitting the vintage keys on an out-of-tune piano.

My stomach rumbles and I look up at an imposing Grandfather clock.  Late lunch in a Swiss-style Bistro with a mysterious suitor awaits me.  A set-up from a friend back home in England: ''a real catch".

I arrive to a gourmet spread.  An oozing raclette, steaming potatoes drenched in butter and herbs, cured ham and crusty brown bread.  A good bottle of red sits majestically on a rustic wooden table.  The fire-place is blazing, the waiter smiling, and the complimentary Spanish olives rolled with feta and sunblushed tomatoes wet my appetite.  A cough startles me.  I turn around to see a man in a smart black trench coat with his back to me.  There's something about his posture I recognise from somewhere but I can't seem to place it.  Or perhaps it’s the leather satchel.  It suddenly clicks - I'd met him on the metro the day before.  He grins at me, the awe-struck red-head.  "Have you been following me?'' I ask.  ''Of course not'' he says, equally as surprised as I am.  ''Fate?'' I declare
, cringing slightly at my dreamy remark.  ''Someone had to say it'' he replies, his mild French accent making my stomach churn with excitement.  ''Sophia was right about you'' I tell him sheepishly.  ''About what?'' he says, grinning.  ''Oh, nothing,'' I reply, ''nothing at all!''

We talk and talk into the early evening and he tells me all about his future plans to travel the world and become a writer.  He marvels at my life-long ambition to become a musical theatre actress in London's West End and make it big.  Like a true gentleman he slips a credit card onto the table and pays for everything, even the extortionately priced scoop of mango sorbet which I insist on having.  ''You like your food'' he remarks as I begin to satisfy my sweet tooth.  I make mmmm noises and he laughs.

It’s almost 20h.  I look up at the star-studded sky, clad in a beret and stripy scarf, my knitted Hermes coat with navy blue tassels squeezing my ribcage slightly more than normal.  He steals my attention by producing two shiny tickets from his wallet.  "The Moulin Rouge'' he announces rather nonchalantly, “fancy going?”  My face lights up immediately.  ''But I don't have anything to wear'' I say, looking down at my bulky attire.  He opens his briefcase and pulls out what looks like a crisply folded package from Marchesa.  He pulls a dress out of the pink tissue paper, ''to match your eyes'' he says, smiling.  ''I thought these would look nice too'' he says as he brings out a familiar turquoise box from his pocket.  Diamonds from Tiffany's.  “Oh you do know how to treat a girl” I retort, as I cradle the dress in my arms.

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