Sunday, November 22, 2015

Les jours tristes

I used to hate Paris, but it might have had more to do with him than with anything else. I somehow learned to appreciate it, to look past the flaws and the inconsistencies. I learned to feel at home in Saint Germain, to walk down Boulevard Raspail not feeling like a stranger or a misfit. I've always been weak that way, restless and dissatisfied, looking more in to to the future than in to the past.

It's not that I'm over it now, I just found a way of dealing with everything that used to hurt me. When I drink too much Champagne I still think it's a bad thing, that I've turned in to my mother, a careless person unable to feel anything other than emptiness and apathy.

The shootings last week reminded me that it isn't true, that I can still feel sadness and pain and despair, and as cynical as it sounds, it makes me happy. I remember what it was like once, when I was younger and not as badly damaged, and I know that the pieces of those days are still infused in my bloodstream, hidden somewhere deep beneath the skin and inside the heart.

I hurt just like anyone else, a week later, a week of roller-coaster emotions and scattered thoughts. I'm still here, I'm alive, I'm trying to go on living. I love you.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

All I want is you

For Halloween we're invited to a party in Montmartre, friends from his Sorbonne class that I've never even heard of. He needs me to dress up as the most intimidating thing imaginable: "An H&M girl".

We're on our way out when l tell him I can't be around people. It comes over me like vertigo, he doesn't ask why and I think I love him for it. I turn off the lights in his bedroom and pretend he's never coming back. If he died I'd have nothing.

I fall asleep some time after midnight and dream about motorways before he wakes me with his Champagne breath on my cold cheek. His clothes smell of women's perfume, soft, deep ruby lipstick marks on the collar of his Givenchy shirt (the one with the two black stars). He lies down beside me and puts his hand between my legs where I'm still warm.

If I died he'd have nothing.

Monday, September 21, 2015


I'm staring back at an empty reflection in the ladies' room at La Coupole, it's not the first time but something feels different. Saturday night and a sane amount of Champagne (four glasses, give or take), Henry sits at the bar with his shimmering Saint Laurent tie undone just enough to make it seem like an accident. He talks so loud I can hear him from downstairs, the two girls that joined us giggle like they've never heard his Hemingway jokes.

In the mirror I see someone that looks like me, thin but poised in her black velveteen dress and leather gloves. She's frail but composed, nothing like myself the way I've felt since I left New York. I lean forward to touch her pale celadon skin, the glass is warmer than I thought it would be. Is this how other people see me?

We follow one the girls back to her hotel, she tastes like war and has a fleur-de-lis tattoo on her inner thigh. In the morning we have breakfast together, she drinks apple juice and talks about L.A. Confidential as if she's only seen the film.


Thursday, September 17, 2015

I like you a lot

It starts on my birthday and a missed call from Carl. I leave the phone unattended on the bureau in the hall for Henry to find, a single emerald LED light blinking in the dark when he gets home, leading the way like a lantern on a dock across the river. I never let him go through my things but some secrets are just meant to be uncovered.

I plan every step in advance like a perfect murder: the careless placement and turning off the lights, letting the water run in the shower while listening to his movements from behind the bathroom door, wrapped up tight in one of his Sonia Rykiel Sirocco towels.

My heart implodes at the sound of his key in the lock at 6 PM, he takes off his shoes and slowly puts down his bag on the floor next to the bureau. The silence is deafening, I wait breathlessly for him to pick up the phone and find me unarmed and defenseless but he never does. Instead he walks past the bathroom in to the kitchen, so close I can almost hear him smiling.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

You'll be perfect just like me

We come back home from wherever we've been, minutes away from sunrise on a Sunday morning. He pays for the taxi and holds the door like a gentleman, we walk up the stairs to his apartment hand in hand and he whispers his trivialities to keep from waking the neighbours.

In the dark of the bedroom he watches me undress and compliments me on my matching underwear (powdery pink from Marlies Dekkers), not with desire but in the midst of a weary yawn. His raven black Givenchy suit hangs perfectly in the closet, my rayon crepe dress lies unfolded like a pool of blood on the waxed wooden floor.

He waits for me in bed while I smoke a final cigarette in the kitchen, watching the empty street outside and the birds. I need to find a weakness in him, something that sets him off or makes him want to hurt me. I know it sounds strange but all I can think of in the dim light is his soft hands tight around my neck, a spark in his eyes that tells me he's still alive, just like me.