love being different
Part Ten of the short story 10 Days in Paris
I was holding up a green shirt dress that I’d gotten in Madrid two years ago.
Still cute. Keep!
I tossed it onto the left side of the bed, and picked up a billowy beige blouse.
Maybe my hippie days are over… Maybe!
Off it went to the right side of the bed.
“Good god! What have you done?!”
Matilde had walked into the room and saw the disaster zone I’d created. On the bed, there were two small piles of clothes. Behind me, in my suitcase and in the hamper Matilde had put in the room, all the rest of my clothes were in untidy piles—though divided between clean and dirty. My shoes, seemingly scattered across the floor, were actually divided into my system of “Keep, Maybe, or Ditch.”
“Um… I’m sorting.”
Matilde started laughing. “Let me guess. You’re making space cause we’re going shopping today!”
I smiled sheepishly. “Yes.”
She walked over to my suitcase. “Well, if you don’t want this,” she said, picking up a red dress, “I’m soooo taking it!”
“Hey!” I said, snatching it from her. “That is a keep!”
“Okay, and this?” Matilde asked, picking up a maxi skirt.
“Umm… a maybe.”
Matilde smiled. “I better get you shopping now so you can sort things better!”
I sighed. “I hate having to leave clothes behind anywhere!”
“Oh, don’t worry, they’ll find a good home with me!” she said, holding a white tube she’d taken from the ‘maybe’ pile. “Now put your shoes on! The time we get to Champs will determine how long we’ll be waiting outside Abercrombie. There’s always a line.”
“Huh? Why is there a line to get into Abercrombie?”
“You can’t take photos,” Matilde said.
“What do you mean you can’t take photos?! You have to be allowed to take photos!” I said.
“Nope,” Matilde said, shaking her head. “It’s the rule.”
We were inside Abercrombie & Fitch. It had taken us thirty minutes to get in, and I grumbled the entire time because Matilde hadn’t explained why this store was a must-see.
The Abercrombie & Fitch store on Champs Elysées was beautiful on its own. It was inside a pretty box-hedged garden, and the interiors were decorated with paintings. But Matilde’s real reason for taking me there was to see the male models. We were surrounded by beautiful men and women and many of the men were shirtless.
“I seriously need to start visiting more Abercrombie stores,” I said. I’d heard that the stores in London and New York were similar, but I’d never bothered walking in. “Seriously,” I said as a very cute model winked at me.
“Nice, right?” Matilde said, looking over a tanned model by the doorway. “Okay, when you’re ready to go, we can actually go shopping.”
I started laughing. “Yeah, I figured there was a different reason for this pitstop.”
“We spent a lot of time in Montmartre and you bought a couple of things there, so I was thinking, after Champs, we can head to Bon Marché and maybe the Marais.”
“Okay, I guess we can get our day started… Too bad we can’t take any of these guys home as a souvenir,” I said.
Matilde laughed. “I suppose you could leave your number if you wanted to!”
I turned pink. “Um, no, okay, let’s go! I want to go to Morgan de Toi!”
“Hmm…” Matilde said distractedly. “Yeah, okay, you lead…” she said.
I groaned. “We should have made this our last stop!”
She laughed. “Okay, okay! Let’s go!”
As I watched the Eiffel Tower sparkle, I smiled. Matilde had kept me shopping all day to distract me from what she had planned for the evening, an au revoir party at Jacques’ apartment. Most of the people I’d met in the past few days were sitting around his terrace. Jacques and some of the guys were manning the grill, and Matilde was talking to one of her friends who had brought her baby to the get-together. I’d wandered to one side of the terrace so I could watch the Eiffel Tower.
My last night in Paris.
The crescent moon hung over the city. I could see lights in the various buildings and street lamps below. I took a deep breath and took in the magic of the city.
The city of lights, the city of romance, I thought. Remembering what Matilde had said when I first arrived. The city of magic, I added. I was surprised by how easily Paris had captured my heart.
“Top you up?”
I turned and saw Etienne with a bottle of champagne. “Yes please,” I said, holding out my glass.
“What were you thinking?” he asked.
“I was wishing upon the Eiffel Tower,” I said. “I wished to be a tourist in Paris forever.”
“I’m sure somehow it can be arranged,” he said.
In the perfect world.
“So what are your plans for your last night in Paris,” Etienne asked.
“I was actually thinking of just taking a walk after dinner, you know, bidding the city farewell, sort of. I’d like to sit by a bridge, or maybe under a bridge. Then wander around some of the monuments close to Matilde’s.”
“Under the Bridges of Paris,” Etienne said with a laugh. “You really are a romantic.”
“I blame this city… and Dean Martin,” I said, laughing too.
“Well, when you want to go for your walk, let me know. I’ll walk with you.”
I raised my eyebrows. “You will?”
“Sure,” he said. “It’s your last night in Paris. Can’t let you spend it alone. And don’t worry. I’m not Pierre,” he said laughing.
I smiled. “Okay, then, I look forward to it.”
Etienne walked back to join the others, and I turned my attention back towards the tower.
One last walk around the city. Nothing could be more perfect.