Monday, February 9, 2009

Fragment 14: South Pacific

It was back in '86 that we took the trip to Europe. Giant knapsacks with the Maple Leaf emblem. Holding hands on strolls through villages seeming on surface unchanged by modernity.

What a time it was. One day Monaco, a perfect blur of pastel. The next St. Tropez.

That night was completely still as we stood atop the famous height. The ruins behind us. The sails of the boats below like so many absolutely stiff flags. I held you from behind. Arms wrapped around your waist.

By train to Paris. Through the Gardens and along all of the grand promenades. Slow and gentle sex in the cramped confines of the cheap hotel room. How did we persuade them to rent us the single bed?

Looking out one dusk, naked but unseen, lights out, thousands, almost endless, marching by, red banners waving, fighting some ancient fight or another.

It was past eleven two days later that we stumbled on the Cafe Seine. Like a postcard it sat on one of those rounded street edges, tables under awnings outside. You looked so beautiful with your big brown eyes and your ponytail. As they brought the house red a light rain began to fall. Sonny Rollins playing Round Midnight in the background. Would that I could have frozen that moment. Made the forward march of time stop, right then. No further.

How did our marriage ever go so wrong?

Twenty years later, a Friday, and I ran into you again. Well, I guess I heard you. I was with her at Balfours. It was crowded, as it always is, and yet I could instantly recognize your laugh, your purr. I didn't want to turn around, but I couldn't stop myself.

Red dress, great curves, you saw me right away. Greg beside you was looking at one of the big screens behind the bar.

Eyes locked for a instant, and then an instant more.

And you smiled.

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