Thursday, February 14, 2008

Chapter 27

They checked in at Logan Airport giggling like third graders on their first bus trip. Just before boarding Air France, Alex called home and again promised Andy and Amy a vast supply of postcards, phone calls and gifts throughout her trip. Leaving Mike and the kids had not been easy: Alex worried about and struggled with guilt and uncertainty. But she also felt exhilarated: like Lily, after almost a year and a half of unspoken but forward moving intimacy, she grasped the reality of what neither of them would clearly and definitively put words to for another two years.
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From start to finish Flight 333 was woefully inadequate. The leg room was tight and the service bare bones. The seven hour flight should have been uncomfortable but it was anything but: Lily and Alex talked non-stop about everything from politics to poltergiest, nibbled on sliced cheese and apples and crackers and truffles-- cleverly anticipated by Lily-- and in between took turns resting their respective heads on each other’s shoulders. Stepping off the plane and into the ancient bustle of the Roissy Charles DeGaulle Airport, Alex was giddy and wonderstruck as they pushed and prodded themselves through a riotous and wild confluence of hundreds travelers converging from all directions into one single file customs line.
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Lily pulled out the instruction sheet from Show of the Month and headed toward a sign that said Transport au sol. There she found a large white phone and in her once adequate French told the operator that the Peterson-Fournier party had arrived. They were told to step outside and along with eight other travelers they squeezed into a Renault mini van, where a gregarious Parisian driver talked, pointed and laughed throughout the 45 minute ride from the airport to the heart of Paris, upon which he delivered each group to the doorstep of their hotel.
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Show of the Month offered dozens of three star accomodations, and Lily had looked at every one before she chose the Hotel Moderne Saint-Germain. Located in the 6th Arrondissement on the Left Bank, within a block of the Sorbonne and easy walking distance to the Latin Quarter, it was an old world charmer with 45 rooms on four floors. The lobby was sliced into three small sections: to the left, the front desk and concierge, in the middle a glitzy bright sitting area where a group of Japanese tourists had spread out and were talking non-stop, and to the right a cozy breakfast room where Lily and Alex would start each of their seven days with a croissant, raspberry jam, ham and cheese, orange juice, and a double cappuccino.
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Just beyond the reception desk, these two grinning Americans and their two large suitcases squeezed into old gold elevator. Once inside they turned the round brass dial to number 2 and manually pulled shut the crisscross doors. Then with the push of a button the heavy elevator doors thudded closed and an abrupt jolt captapulted them upward, where the doors opened to a dark hallway. They walked fifteen steps to room 214, turned the oversized key, and there they stood.
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Lily and Alex entered the room with the same elementary school giggles that began in Boston. Alex flicked on the light switch to reveal a tiny room with grey walls, two twin beds pushed together, each covered with a thin clean worn wool pink blanket , a small night table, and one maple four drawer dresser. A sink was tucked into the far right corner of the room opposite a splinter of a closet at the opposite end. In between a doorway opened to a clean efficient bathroom so small that they could barely turn around, but none-the-less it managed to somehow fit in a toilet, shower and boudet
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They looked at one another and burst into laughter.
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“Cozy, eh, madame”” Alex said.
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“Very very cozy, c'est très parfait,”Lily responded.
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The room had one floor-to-ceiling window with a small balcony one floor above the bustling Avenue St. Germain.
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“Alex!”, Lily called. “The view is fantastic.”
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Newcomers to Paris are surprised by the pervading grayness of the city and its concrete architecture. It’s not until they figure out how to focus exclusively on the street level that the vibrant colors and rich history truly unfolds. Lily knew this already--Alex did not—but it did not take long for them in delightful unison to scan the ornate concrete upper stories of every building and then let their eyes fall to the sidewalk scene below-- its contrasts of pulsating color and movement—storefronts, awnings, flower boxes, fresh fruits and vegetables, café tables, umbrellas, bustling men and women carrying French bread and riding bicycles.
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It’s so Paris, Lily.” Alex gushed.
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“Oui” Lily said. “C'est très parfait
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Alex laughed, “Lily, I hope you know how to say more than that. ”
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“Oui”, Lily said, “Je peux dire que nous allons avoir une semaine fabuleuse
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Oh you showoff. What does that mean, besides the fabulous part?”
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“It means we are going to have a fabulous fantastic wonderful terrific week.”
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“Oui, Oui”,
said Alex, “Oui, oui, oui”.
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Lily lifted Alex’s suitcase onto one of the twin beds and placed her own on the other. She leaned over and began organizing her clothes and toiletries. Alex approached her from behind. She put her arms around Lily’s waist and tucked her head so it nestled into Lily’s shoulder.
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“Honeygirl”, Alex said, “Will you sleep with me tonight?”
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Lily stiffened. She hesitated before she turned around and looked directly at Alex.
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“You think?” she asked.
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“Yes”, Alex said, “I do think.”
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“Whoa. Wow”, Lily said. She waited a few seconds before continuing,
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“OK” She paused again. “OK”, she said. “ So our city tour starts at one, then we’ll see if we can find that stationary store we read about, stroll until we find a fabulous café for dinner, and finish day one with banana and chocolate crepes. Then we’ll pick up some red wine and we’ll come back to the world’s smallest room and see if these twin beds really will stay together”. Another pause. “OK?”.
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“Yes”,
said Alex, smiling. “That is what we’ll do, Lily. That’s exactly what we’ll do.”

19 comments:

  1. WHHHHAAAAAAA Alex moved so fast! Hahahhahaaa This was fun reading KJ :)

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  2. What did she expect? They slept in the same room and one of them loves women and the other just loves love.

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  3. in my experience, the twin beds never stay together.

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  4. Wow, I thought it would just happen, like a natural heated progression, but Alex is a woman after my own heart!
    They'll only need one of those beds anyway!

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  5. I would be so stiff and a nervous wreck all day and perhaps blame myself for even going and I definitely would have taken credit cards and a lot of money with me to check into another hotel but sometimes these things happen in novels but why is so damn bossy?

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  6. I love your descriptions of Paris! So true! Really took me right back there.

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  7. anon, so fast? a year and a half fast....

    citizen, i appreciate the compliment.

    ces, who's who?

    gj, how true.

    rm, see comment to anon.

    ces, you think alex is bossy? sometimes i think i am not representing her well.

    nichole, that you read this chapter has made my day! it was so fun to revisit paris in my mind.

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  8. Oh, the description of Paris is right on! I can see it clearly ... great job!! :) Makes me want to buy a ticket to Europe and get away with *my* sweetie.

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  9. They had just arrived into the room and already discussing that night ... I call that PRESSURE!

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  10. melissa, i would LOVE to visit paris again, even for a weekend!

    anon, hahhaha. i think sometimes i am impulsive like alex, although it seemed to me she had been thinking about this for quite a while...

    :)

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  11. Men never ask, they just make the move right away, no time preference and women just want to go shopping.

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  12. Where is the next chapter where they sleep together. I can't wait.

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  13. dearest ces: see chapter 25.

    :)

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  14. I don't think asking is being bossy, just assertive. I think it's sexy!

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  15. I want details. Planning hours ahead before nightfall seems premeditated and not spontaneous at all. I think sexy is grabbing someone gently, pin them against the wall, not let them move away and start kissing them pasionately. So there.

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  16. This has to be a favourite chapter for me. The descriptions of the flight, hotel and journey to the room were just too real for it not to have happened in real life.

    I felt as though I was there.

    Superb!

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  17. Part of the amazing thing about your writing, the comments that everybody makes. They put their own spin on your story and it then becomes even more alive! Very cool! I am loving being in Paris with these two I could almost smell the city in your words. I also love how you describe everything so well, Fifteen steps to the room, that is great!

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