A walk on the Paris side.
I lean my head back onto the wrought iron fence behind table 27. The sun warms my black sweater, and I briefly think that if I sit here too long, I’ll start to get a sunburn. It’s 64 degrees on Friday, October 7th.
I step out onto the dirt path, my wool trench in hand. Inhale.
The air is still soft with warmth, remnants of the summer yet lacking winter’s harsh, frigid bite. It’s autumn in Paris.
My eye catches a girl in repose, feet propped up on the fountain’s edge. Babbling water and murmuring visitors ebb into a lullaby as her chest moves in a soft cadence in the shadows of the 17th-century Palais Royal garden.
I spot a gem to my right and softly snap her photo as I approach. A cane is tucked into the park bench, with household papers and mail taking up the second seat. She didn’t notice me.
As I clip by, I casually remark to her, “You are so lovely.” Our eyes meet, and she blinks.
I repeat myself, raising my voice a bit in case she is hard of hearing.
“What did you say?”
She repeats, but I see the sparkle in her eye this time, and I know this game. My grandmother was the same.
I let a Cheshire grin catch the side of my smile as I play along. “Madame, you are so beautiful, stylish, and sophisticated. I just had to tell you.”
Authenticity cannot be faked. I was telling her the truth. And at that moment, she came alive – a ruby caught on fire.
Animated, Marina said, “No one has told me that in…” her voice faded. She didn’t look me in the eye. I didn’t move an inch. I simply kept my eyes on her and said, “But it’s true, Madame. Your style is impeccable. And your red outfit is incredible. You are so beautiful.”
We spoke of love, life, living in Paris, outside of Paris, and the glories of the rest of France.
“People don’t stop to talk to each other anymore. You’re unusual.”
We agreed to share a glass of French white wine next time. It’s her favorite.
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