Whoa! December already! Time for holiday celebrations a'plenty. Also time for the final WEP (Write...Edit...Publish) challenge for 2017. We've already prepared all the challenges for 2018, so if you enjoy a writing challenge, go HERE to read all about it. We'd love to have you.
The December WEP challenge is The End is the Beginning. Pretty open, wouldn't you say? The blurb said:
A flashback? A new start? A cascading change? A branching off point? An end and a beginning? Celebrate year's end with us!
Here I am, all fuelled up after my latest sojourn in Paris, so of course, my flash fiction is set in that beautiful city. It's probably more suited to Romantic Friday Writers, but, heck, what's wrong with a bit of romance? My story offers a new start, an end and a beginning,
The City Where Love Lived and Died
It’s our wedding day. May 25, 2011. The most romantic day of my life is finally here and I’m spending it in the most romantic city in the world. Ooh la la!
Can I take it all in? Everywhere I look there is beauty – Notre Dame's aged
bricks and soaring buttresses being kissed by sunset – the lock-filled bridge,
the Pont des Arts that joins the Left Bank and Right Bank – lovers sharing wine
and baguettes, dangling their legs in the Seine and throwing bread to the ducks.
As I walk beside the river, my candy pink dress with its French Poodle embroidery flares around my knees. Pink satin heels complement my black net stockings. I clutch the tiny posy of white roses which my darling Mitch handed to me on the steps of the town hall, known here as the mairie. Their scent envelopes me as I walk arm in arm with my beautiful man feeling oh so French.
Mitch, so handsome in his black suit, kisses the white gold and diamond ring on my finger – Could this day get any better?
‘Let’s do it!’ he says.
We walk to our chosen spot midway across the Pont des Arts. Mitch reaches into his pocket and flips the copper lock in his hands.
We gaze at the token as if it were made of solid gold.
‘I had it engraved,’ he says.
‘I had it engraved,’ he says.
Wrapping my arms around his waist, I read the inscription – ‘Capt'nFlynn, Mastarata 25-May-2011’.
Yes, this day could get better. 'You used our special names.'
We loop the lock over the wire and click it shut. Mitch reaches for me and we kiss. I hear a passing tourist snap our photo. I giggle, wondering if they'll give it a caption: The Kiss.
‘Let’s come back every year to celebrate our wedding anniversary,’ I say.
‘I can’t think of any better way to celebrate our love,’ Mitch says.
We kiss again to seal the deal.
As I cross the bridge between the Latin Quarter and Notre Dame, I think to myself how apt it is that the skies are all smudgy, not that brilliant Parisian grey-blue of two years ago.
Nevertheless, I came here for a reason, no matter how painful. I hold my breath as I stand on the timber deck of the Pont des Arts once again and search through the multitude of love locks. It’s a wonder the bridge doesn’t collapse under this weight of metal.
Finally, there it is - still bright and shiny in the gloom. I pick it up and rub my thumb over our pet names.
I attach the tiny plastic envelope to the lock handle, then I collapse onto a bench and sob for our fractured love.
I could have trusted you instead of showering you with jealousy.
I could have travelled with you instead of putting my career first.
I could have forgiven you instead of throwing you out without listening to you.
Your Dearest Polly
We were meant to be together, forever.
I stroll along the Seine, then order mussels in garlic cream sauce at what was our favourite restaurant in the Latin Quarter. When the attentive waiter brings the bowl of dark, half open shells, pours my wine and places the bread basket before me, I cannot eat or drink.
It’s futile to retrace steps from the past; those steps have been obliterated with time.
The 17th Century Hotel le Relais is not at all romantic without Mitch. Climbing the winding stairs is just a leg-numbing chore. Surely they could install a lift.
The fifth floor at last. The Romantic Room with the etched carvings on the ancient door. From the window I’ll be able to gaze at Notre Dame and watch the old lady turn golden in the sunset, watch the tourists snapping pictures, watch the thousands entering her Gothic doors, hoping to find solace as they gasp at the beauty of the rose window.
I take a deep breath and rattle around with the ancient key.
The door opens before I find the slot. I step back in fright, clasping my chest and breathing jerky breaths.
‘Mitch! What are you doing here?’
‘Same as you, I imagine.’
‘I read your letter.’
He holds out our wedding album.
I'd left it on the desk under the window.
‘I saw this. How could I have put what we have at risk? I’m a fool.’
‘Marrying you was the happiest day of my life. That album reminds me of our special day.’
‘I’m sorry sweetheart. It wasn’t you who needed reminding, it was me. I’ll do better. What I did was despicable, but...will you take me back? I’m so sorry. I love you...I love you...’
I entwine my arms around his neck and soak his beautiful white shirt with my tears.
‘I love you Mitch. I don’t want a life without you. I've missed you so...’
His arms feel so right, around me where they belong – could this day get any better?
It’s about to.
NOTE: The ‘love locks’, despised by most of the French population, were removed from the Pont des Arts on June 1, 2015. When I returned this visit, I was happy to see that Pont Neuf is now adorned with ‘love locks’. Obviously, the City of Love didn’t want to be known as the City Where Love Died.
|Love locks on the Pont Neuf - corridors and corridors of them leading down to the Seine.
Taken by moi in September, 2017.
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Thanks for reading.