Paris, the city of lights - a flash fiction short story
Paris, the present
Paris, the city of lights, was gray and black and white as Sophie sipped her coffee and looked outside. The remains of Raymond's visit were scattered across the table.
Their words had been brief and cruel. A lover's quarrel gone terribly wrong. She hadn't meant what she said. Had he?
Raymond had flown in from New York City just to see her. Or so he said at first. They had been separated for three long months. Her time here in Paris on temporary assignment with Vogue magazine was stretching on for another three months.
Raymond wasn't happy about that, but then neither was she. She longed for the familiar busy filled streets of New York City - home to her and Raymond. She missed Raymond most of all. That was what she was trying to tell him, but his sharp words had wounded her right down to her soul.
Then she had retorted with sharp words of her own and her eyes had filled with tears. Raymond just shook his head. Another one of her silly ploys, crying. Raymond's words had stung her.
Sophie motioned for the waiter to come to the table. She paid the bill and stepped outside onto the chilly Paris street. She pulled her sweater around her and walked down the street, observing people at the cafes.
She walked along the sidewalk alone hearing the quiet, gentle, hushed tones of conversation among the people. It was exactly what she had envisioned herself and Raymond doing. But, after the sharp words he had quickly left in a huff. He had more important things to do in this world than hold her hand while she cried at a Paris cafe.
Should she give up her job? Was that the answer? Yes, Raymond was worth it - she loved him dearly. But, was he giving up anything to be with her in Paris? Apparently not. As he had sharply pointed out to her, his visit coincided with business for which he was here in Paris. This was news to her. She thought he had come exclusively to see and visit with her.
She crossed the street and noticed an empty cafe. It was like her heart, empty at the moment and so forlorn. She lingered for a second and then walked on. The crisp wind went right through her sweater and chilled her to the bone. She rustled around in her bag until she pulled out a woolen scarf and wound it around her neck. There, that cut the wind as she walked and she felt a bit warmer.
She should walk on to her apartment and get out of the chilly weather, but instead she took a turn in the opposite direction. She just wasn't ready to enter an empty, cold, vast apartment.
She watched Parisians as they drank their espresso's and cafe au lait's and occasional glasses of wine. Their cares were far away from hers as she heard the quiet laughter.
Dusk began to fall and still Sophie walked on - past the Eiffel Tower, Paris' grand attraction, where so many photo shoots had taken place for Vogue. The tower looked hard, steely and cold against the gray mid-darkened sky.
She had planned to bring Raymond here on his first day in Paris. Lunch at the restaurant on the second floor of the tower. Then a climb to the top for a panoramic view of Paris. A day of love and romance in the city of lights.
Before she even realized it, they had been arguing - Raymond left and that was that. Now, it was all ruined. She noticed a lone bicycle propped up against an old doorway of a building. A lone bicycle for a lone traveler much like herself.
Sophie looked away and brushed tears from her face with her fingers. Everywhere she looked in Paris, aloneness. At the cafes, alone in a crowd or cafes alone with no customers at all.
Darkness had settled over the city by now and still Sophie walked. She was tired and worn out from working so hard at the magazine. Then today, Raymond had taken the wind out of her sails as they say. She walked along - so many people filled the cafes on this crisp evening. They had become anonymous and faceless to her. Did she look that way to them?
As she wound around the Paris streets she finally realized she was home at her apartment. The doorman smiled and tipped his hat to her and opened the door. She smiled back sheepishly. Once inside, she stopped at the concierge desk to see if there were any messages for her. No, none.
She sighed heavily and rode the elevator up to her apartment. She struggled with the card to open the door. What had happened to simply using keys? Keys were so much easier than these blasted cards. After about five attempts, the door clicked open and Sophie stumbled a bit into her apartment.
She turned on the lamp on the hall table. There, now illuminated, sat Raymond with a sheepish look on his face holding a single gardenia flower, her favorite.
© 2013 Suzette Walker