Monday, October 20, 2014

To Père Lachaise and back

He wakes me up at 5 AM, his Bowmore breath thicker than a rain cloud. He tries to whisper but fails, the cold, dusty smell of his pinstripe suit tells me he's been smoking more heavily than usual. "It's time" he slurs as he climbs in to bed with his shoes on, lies down beside me and gently puts his ivory hand between my legs. The pressure from his fingers is always just enough, as if he's done it a million times before.

He picks out clothes for me (a raven dress, champagne ballerinas), then escorts me through the hotel lobby and in to the street to a waiting cab. It's warm and quiet outside, "go" he says and we drive through a city asleep, past the Bastille and in to the 20th arrondissement. I don't need to look out the window to know where we're going. I can already feel it.

We get out and start walking past rows of headstones and monuments. He squeezes my hand as if to comfort me but I've never been afraid of the dark or the dead. "I told you you'd get to meet my mother" he whispers, successfully this time, "and you should know I always keep my promises".

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What you had and what you lost

He tells me about the dreams he's having and how with time he remembers them more and more as things that really happened.

We found a prettier hotel and moved our lives across the river a couple of hundred yards to the north He buys blue and violet cut flowers and rearranges the furniture according to his own messed up idea of feng shui. Paris is a fading fantasy outside, a neglected lover we got tired of sooner than we could ever imagine. "I was born here" he says, gazing distractedly out the window through the ivory drapes. "But it means nothing to me now".

We try out gin cocktails at the local bar and he makes me speak French with French girls in flimsy dresses and bird's nest hair. I know exactly how to make them want me more than him and I know that he loves me more because of it.

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Saturday, October 4, 2014

Live and let live

I wish I could tell one day from the next but the wine's far too cheap here. He's found a small three star hotel near the Luxembourg gardens, still on the Rive Gauche but reasonably far from his sister. "I don't want her to kill you" he says, I'm sure it's some form of a compliment.

We watch people pass us by in the early mornings on their way to work while we're still high on the fumes from last night's Champagne and oysters. We try (unsuccessfully) to act sober as we look for cracks and tears in the fresh paint, something to offset the expected and disrupt the pedantic patterns laid out before us: someone under 40 wearing clothes from Desigual (impossible), young Parisian men without sneakers (hard), pretty women with broken hearts (this is where we start guessing).

I ask him again when we'll see his mother. "I told you I shouldn't have put it that way" he says, annoyed, "but we will". He takes another sip from his highball glass of Absinthe, church bells echoing melancholically across the river as he speaks. "You will".

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Do you think we'll be in love forever?

We're back in Paris and it feels like being pulled out of a beautiful dream. I see tourists and lovers in the streets but they all remind me of how much I hate the Champs-Élysées and standing before Les Invalides in the wind and the velvety darkness at night.

Henry's calmer than before, a part of me thinks he's already given up. Elisa sends me a text saying Tom and Daisy have been arrested. "She looks surprisingly cute in handcuffs". I could tell him but decide not to.

On the first evening we return to La Coupole in Montparnasse, he drinks Talisker and asks me about everything insignificant he can think of. I look at him through the mist and I hold his hand softly in mine and it's only when I forget about the world around us that the time we spend together makes this much sense.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Because blue is how I feel on the inside

He's changed scents, downgrading his clothes but upgrading his perfume from Versace's Blue Jeans to Bleu de Chanel (EdP). He tells me he can't get us in to Milan Fashion Week but it's a cheap lie to keep us out of sight. "I always knew things would end this way" he sighs, "ever since...".

Maybe it's all in his head but the way he plays this game until there are no other options sends shivers down my spine and we're the slightly darker 21st century versions of Bonnie and Clyde. He turns toward me in bed, runs his sharp fingers through my tumbleweed hair.  "Anyway" he says, "I want you to see my mother".

So we drive north again and the pre-autumn sunlight drifts across the hillsides and the mountains like fingertips on naked skin. We stop for pastries and coffee at a run-down restaurant just east of Lausanne and he makes me promise to re-read Anna Karenina in time before the winter and the snow.

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