There becomes a permanent furrow in his brow as he spins the paper, viewing the pictures from different angle as if each degree will be closer to comprehension.
“Most people don’t understand,” she says boldly. “Paris will bring words to it.” But the man has trapped his attention within a specific drawing, a lock that has engraved its shadow throughout the entire notebook. The detail present makes him jump, as if he can feel the cold metal against his skin, as permanent marker is smudged by the trickle of French rain. In frustration, the man returns to the woman her beloved notebook, to which the key is one’s mind. Her satisfaction in her wit is evident, particularly the frustration in the man. The man has turned away in deep thought over the past moments on the train, and the woman has finally turned to the peace of a silent page.
The woman in the asphalt-feathered peacoat who writes until dawn breaks hums Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue in a timid volume, afraid to wreck the crafty chords rather than to wake anyone up. The man has drifted off on a cloud, and the woman realizes, much to her dismay, that he radiates the slightest bit of attractiveness while asleep.
Paris is called above the intercom, as the woman scribbles the last calligraphic letters into her book. She considers waking the man up, simultaneously considering the fact that she can talk to him again. Excusez-moi, she hears in a bustle of falling suitcases and rumbling tracks, and the man has woken from his peaceful abode. He wears that tiresome look, as if the sun has been waiting for him by his bedside in the early morning.
“Puis-je—-can I help?” he says in a quick shift in tongues. The woman holds in her hand the last cigarette of the pack, shrugging nonchalantly while balancing her purse and duffel in one grip.
The woman can’t seem to remember when she last smoked like this, and she can feel her body revolting silently and in a deathly manner. She hopes for some godsend for inspiration, although her notebook has covered itself in sweat smudges in the form of some sort of inspiration.
“Paris, are you ready?” Asks the man, sighing his own breath of relief as one would do at home. That’s where he was; he was at home. “Paris, such a beautiful city.” He breathes again, taking in the air as if it were a drug. “Would you not agree?”
The woman can see barely beyond the train tracks in this misty morning, and her breath has yet to be struck by the memories she left behind once.
“I suppose,” she agrees tersely. The man has nodded, returning to that once-curious face again from it-seems-like-years ago since they first met. “I suppose, but I’ll never know until I can see it. This damn fog.” The man laughs as the woman exposes her personality the slightest bit. He looks into her eyes for maybe the third time in the entire trip, gently caressing her hand and reaching to kiss her cheek.
“It was a pleasure.” The woman is dumbfounded by these un-American ways. Yet, she is simultaneously pleased, and she explains this with a symbolic smile. As the plastic doors close behind the man, the woman straightens her asphalt-feathered coat and runs after him. He has left nothing behind, and she has nothing to say to him, yet she runs until the wind catches between the strands of her hair. Before she can yell something, she realizes she doesn’t know his name.
“Attends!” Her French reeks of Americanness. The man is laughing as he turns almost involuntarily to her voice. A few hours, and his mind has trained itself to react to her mellifluous voice. “Attends!” She whispers in a diminuendo when she reaches him, until she is eye-to-eye with those striking green pupils.
The man is silent, looking down at her with his immense height, with a gaze so captivating, as if they can understand all.
“Ma cherie!” The woman hears, as her body is retracted from the deep connection between the two, jostled by the interruption. “Ma cherie!” There is another woman, seemingly a mother, holding the man’s face, cupping it in fragile hands, and kissing his cheeks amidst custom.
The man has not shifted a muscle in the way he smiles, almost in a daze. He pulls the woman’s arms closer to his mother, introducing her in a tangle of foreign syllables. She is uncomfortably fidgeting like one’s lover fidgets in the time of new introductions. For a second, she is so lost in the moment, amidst strangers in an unknown station, amidst new acquaintances in an almost familiar country, amidst her past and present, that she begins to play along, until it all becomes real in her mind.