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Paris in Flames

Paris in Flames

"Mademoiselle, I cannot begin to express my pleasure at meeting you," he said softly. He was not lying. For three - nay, four - years he had waited to meet the fair lady who graced the small café down the street from his house. She came in, all slender features and soft angles, and ordered the same cup of coffee and pastry every day. He could have recited her order by heart, had he wished. Somehow, he never worked up the courage to speak to her, until today.

“Monsieur, I can say the same,” she replied. She too had watched the man who, like a tortured soul, had eyed her walking into the small Parisian bistro. It had become a habit of hers to order a cup of dark coffee and small bichon au citron before beginning another long day at her Tuesday meetings. Undeniably, she could have gotten the pastry at the cafeteria.

“You must let me buy you another,” he insisted, turning both of their eyes to the topic that had begun their inevitable conversation. A broken porcelain bowl lay at their feet, coffee creating a puddle as black as tar around it on the smooth linoleum floor. Her bichon au citron still lay on its napkin, carefully wrapped for later snacking, on the formica table.

“Monsieur, I could not. Do not trouble yourself; I was nearly done,” she told him, carefully leaning down to pick up the pieces of bowl. A young, surly waiter walked over to where they stood.

Est-ce quelque chose de mal?” the server asked. The man looked puzzled. She chuckled inwardly. For all his French culture, he did not speak the language of love.

“He is asking if something is wrong,” she said kindly.

The man looked startled. “Ah, Mademoiselle,” he said to her. He had never learned the language, never felt a need to. Now he regretted this.

Non, il n'ya aucun problemé,” she said, smiling. The waiter huffed and stalked off.

“I said that there was no problem,” she told him.

“The young these days,” he remarked, gesturing towards the server’s retreating back.

“Indeed,” she said. He was nearly thirty-five, and she did not know her age. It did not matter.

He asked her if she should like to go on a stroll with him. She, smiling kindly, accepted his offer of a midday rendezvous. They left twelve euros and coffee’s dark stain, slipping between the cracks of a broken heart.

Behind them, Paris burned under a clear blue summer sky.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

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