Paris street; Rainy day

Mr and Mrs C. had been married for such a long time that now they had started to reverse-count the time, until death would actually do them apart.
The connection between them had always been powerful, but it reached its peak in the exact moment when, walking down the 4th route, they had both seen it.

They stared at it incredulous, then they glazed at each other. What was beyond belief in their eyes was that nobody else seemed to be aware of the remarkable scene right in front of them. Not the smart man in an elegant stovepipe hat, not the two gentlewomen chatting in a low voice, not even those two arm-in-arm newlyweds, even though they looked just like young Mr and Mrs.

It was drizzling. 18:30, it was starting to get dark; and despite the sunset was being hidden by the clouds up in the dimmed sky, Mrs C. thought there were no excuses for not being able to see what was going on. That was the truth: every other person, whether they were outwalking or simply strolling down the promenade, whether their mind was wandering or they looked light-hearted, whether they were old or young, none of them seemed to have even looked at it. They weren’t just ignoring it: somewhat, it was invisible for everyone, but Mr and Mrs.

The lady gently pulled her husband’s arm.
“Dear… What do you think we should do?”. The man frowned and mumbled.
They looked at each other right in the eyes.
Her eyes were at loose ends, pretty confused. She did feel she had to help in some way, she just didn’t know how.
His eyes were the eyes of a little kid about to dive off a cliff. Those were the eyes of a concerned man, who yet is about to do something he won’t easily forget.

He settled his top hat, lightly nodded to his wife and, after leaving her the umbrella, he reached it.

By the time he crossed the street and got closer, he saw how it was really not a statue. His face was turned downwards and, kneeled down, he kept his hands right on his thighs. He was naked, except for a piece of white cloth around his bottom and lower abdomen and a spine crown on his wavy and dark-haired head.

“Sir, excuse me. Are you okay?”, Mr C. asked him.
He waited a few seconds, which felt interminable, for an answer that eventually he did not get.
He turned around to give a glance to his wife, who had stood still and perplexed on the pavement across the street. She shook her head as to tell him she didn’t quite know what to do next; he decided to give it another try.

“I know you can hear me. You look cold, would you like a coat on?” Mr C. proposed him, as he mimed taking off his own coat.

Mr C. kindly stirred the man’s shoulder. Still no answer.

“Look… I don’t know what’s wrong with you. I don’t even know if you understand what I’m saying. Dear God, I do wonder what the matter is with you.”
The poor husband stood there, down next to him for a few next moments. He couldn’t even hear that dark-skinned man breath, but his gray eyes were a little open and facing the ground.

At last, Mr C. decided to leave a banknote right to his right and go back to his wife. “Did it say something?”
“He didn’t say a word.”

But what poor Mr C. did not see was the dark circles under that man’s reddish and tired eyes, his broken teeth and the little but deep holes he had in his upper arm.

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Dans un café

In a café. That’s where it all started and it all ended: poor Mademoiselle Charlotte had been left alone once again, sat on the narrow and uncomfortable couch, facing that rounded glass filled with a high-alcoholic drink. She didn’t even remember what she had ordered but it didn’t matter anymore because she didn’t care; and she hated herself for it. She had always been the “special” girl, the “different” and “unique” one. Also “lunatic” and “insane”, but she preferred taking them as compliments: at least she was not like any other woman!

But now, sat on that wretched couch, facing her forgotten drink, Mademoiselle Charlotte was just like any other person in that café: lost but not confused, tired but not exhausted, angry but not evil. 

She didn’t care about anything going on anymore and pretended not to notice even when a gentleman sat just next to her, with a pipe between his lips, a bushy and dingy beard and wearing a wrinkly bowler hat.

Madame… are you all right?”

Mademoiselle, s’il vous plaît.” She said, keeping on looking at the void.

Desolé. You look suffering. Are you sure everything is fine?”

Non, monsieur. Nothing is fine, but I would be surprised otherwise. Would you leave me alone now?”

The man stood up and angrily mumbled something about how her supposedly unsatisfactory intimate life was not a pretext for her to be such a hateful and unfriendly mademoiselle. Pas vraiment française.

Charlotte sighed and went back to her thoughts, which weren’t actual thoughts, but she’d rather desire them to be. She, educated and cultured, needed to think all the time. She was different.

Was she, actually? Julien, her last lover, had abandoned her just like he did to any other woman he had. That made her one of the many. They had met in that classy café a couple of hours before, he had told her those cliché excuses and, after an hypocrite kiss on her cheek, he left. She hated herself and she hated him. He made her realise that, after all, she was not so special.

@layalke 🐍