Air - Chapter 7
So Benjamin and I ended up going to all of the small shops around Winchester with an underground reputation. They're great places, with great people and better products. It was past lunchtime, around 3 PM, when we decided to hit one more shop, then go rest our aching feet. He led me expertly down the main street, turning on to another road that we'd traversed earlier in the day. Like, way earlier.
"So what's that building?" Ben asks, pointing to an odd-shaped brick establishment.
"Public library." I respond immediately, smirking. I was getting better at this already!
"And that one, love?" He pointed to a pretty yellow two-story with a white porch, easels frequenting the wooden slabs.
"Art studio, with the artist's home on the second floor."
"What about that one?" He pointed to a building I hadn't seen previously. It was quaint and black, with a bright pastel blue door.
"That's... that's..." I search for a word desperately in the recesses of my mind, unwilling to admit defeat after this winning streak. He stopped and turned to look at me, a smile playing across his face.
"You have no idea, do you?"
"...no..." I slumped, pouting slightly. "So what is it?" I inquire carefully. I did not want him to send me in alone again to "discover for myself", as I'd had to a few times. Quite a few times.
"La Boutique de Paris." He makes a sweeping motion with his arm, speaking in a nerdy French accent. "Come on, love! I'll show you." He (unconciously, in my opinion) took my hand, leading me down the charming brick sidewalk and to the front door, opening it for me like a true English gentleman. Heh, chivalry isn't so dead after all.
The moment I walk in, this overwhelming sense of... of dainty-little-French-store-ness washes over me. I look around, fascinated by my newfound surroundings. Benjamin walks in, chuckling when he sees me mesmerized and spinning in circles, trying to take it all in. Beautiful handmade French jewelry covered the tables, old books written in French lined walls, and cute little French whatcha-ma-call-its sat around, all in neat and lovely manners. So... so French!
"Bonjour, comment puis-je vous aider?" A cute old woman walks out from a room behind the counter, drying her hand on an embroidered towel. Her voice catches my attention. Resisting the urge to give myself a face-palm, I briskly put the pieces together: The shop was so French because the owner is from France and speaks French! I'm about to ask Ben how we're going to speak with her when he answers her.
"Bonjour, madame Adlam!" I lose my composure for a second, gaping at him as he spoke in a flawless accent. H-he implied earlier that he couldn't speak a lick of French, nonetheless a tongue!
Ben walks forward, hugging the little old lady. She looks at me, and I jump a bit, not expecting the sudden attention.
"Et qui est-ce? Votre petite amie?" She hits him in the arm, and he turns a little red, although I'm not sure why. He joins her in laughing a couple seconds later, turning whatever situation he was just in around completely, as is his talent.
"Non, non. Pas encore, en tout cas." They laugh for a moment, then Ben finds me staring quizically at the two of them. Old friends, the lot.
"Alexandra, this is Madame Adlam, a dear friend of mine. You're the first to know." He smiles, walking over to stand with me and make things a little bit less maladroit. "She doesn't speak English, and she only understands a little bit, just the necessities. Her son usually translates for her, but he's on a business trip right now. I stop by the boutique when I can to help out, since I can translate for her, too." He smiled brighter, and I was almost taken away by it- WAIT, BACK UP.
My hormones must be changing... there is NO WAY I'd feel like this normally!
"Uh... hi, Madame. It's nice to meet you." I extend a hand as Benjamin translates for me in fluent French. The Madame shakes my hand warmly, patting my cheek.
"Vous avez trouvé vous-même une bonne fille, Benjamin," She looks at Ben, still holding my hand. "Ne la laissez pas passer." He flushes bright red, a new expression of his I added to my mental Benjamin's-Somewhat-Limited-Expressions book. I swear, to this day, he's never ever ever EVER turned that scarlet. Ever.
Madame turns in a flourish and trots behind the counter, putting an uber-friendly smile on her face. "Alors, que puis-je faire pour vous?" She asks, looking between the two of us expectantly. I elbow Benjamin in the arm, pulling him out of whatever la-la land he was stuck in.
"Ow. That hurt, love. She asked if there was anything she could do for us." He regained composure at a whiplash-inducing rate, making me wonder if he ever blushed at all.
"May I just look around a bit, please?" Ben translatesm and the woman nods. They resumed talking, and I kinda-sorta eavesdropped a bit, not understanding a single word of the conversation.
"Ah, son accent est si mignon! Où est-elle de?" The woman said in an inquiring tone. I can understand the general direction of the conversation by the pitch of people's voices.
"Amérique." I perk up at the mention of my home country, but resume saturating myself with this newfound adoration for French things. I stopped in my tracks when I saw it.
A beautful flower hair pin, the petals in a stunning blue and silver outline. It shone brightly in the sun, an absolutely eye-catching-and-absorbing design.
"Find something, love?" I hadn't even noticed Benjamin walk up behind me, taking the pin out of the pretty little black box it was in. "Very pretty... it looks very becoming on you." He speaks to me quietly, sliding it in to my hair. "Madame, elle a trouvé quelque chose. Combien pour la broche?" He called over his shoulder to the petite woman.
"Gratuit. Considérez que c'est mon cadeau pour vous deux!" She walks over, patting both our shoulders. I pull the pin out of my hair and put it in to the box, handing it to her. Ben translated what she had spoken for me as we walked in slow motion to the counter, where she was tying it up with a blue ribbon that matched the pin flawlessly.
"Thank you so much, Madame!" That much she didn't need translated.
"Vous êtes les bienvenus. Au revoir!" Ben and I called back to her as we left the boutique, the adorable little box situated comfortably in my hand. This marked the beginning of a new life in England for me, or so I thought. That's just me attempting to be deep.
But, really and honestly, maybe living here isn't so bad after all.