Life can’t get any better. I live in a city I have always wanted to live, I tried new food I have never tried before, I had visited Lourve and Musee d’Orsay, two museums I had been dying to visit. I finally saw Monalisa with my own eyes, explored so many Van Gogh’s painting and even bought a book about his paintings and read it in a coffee shop opposite of EiffelTower. This is a life I had always dreamt of.
Yes it is a dream life, so at some point I must wake up. It is when the loneliness starts crawling back to me, giving me flashes of Shannon and Mom from the past. I miss both of them so much. I feel I never love anybody truly except the two of them but unfortunately one of them is dead.
But Shannon is still alive and he’s just a few kilometers away.
Today is a bright Saturday morning and I sit quietly in a café near my hostel. I order another cup of latte and give a serious thought about the possibility of meeting Shannon. It has been three years since I saw her and I barely talked to her anymore. Am I still on track of my suicide plan? If I am, then why must I care about my ego?
I open the facebook app on my iPhone and write a message to Shannon, “Hey. I’m in Paris.”
I’m frozen waiting for her reply because I know she’s online. She’s always online because she updates her blog daily about scrapbooking and other art and craft stuffs.
“NO WAY! How did you get there?” Shannon replies, about one minute later. Suddenly there is this warmth feeling in my heart that really feels soothing. A feeling that’s very foreign for my life lately and yet succeeds to put a smile back on my face.
“By plane,” I reply.
“LOL. Of course. Give me your address; I’m coming there by train in about 3 hours.”
I type my address as fast as lightning strike, I actually shriek when I do this. I’m so happy imagining that I will finally meet Shannon again, I even spill my coffee a little bit because I am so rush looking for the name card of the hostel that Bernadette gave me.
The next thing I know, I hear a knock on my hostel room’s door and I open it at once. Shannon is standing in front of me, seeing me, jaw-dropping and screaming, “OH MY GOD ELLIE YOU’RE IN PARIS!!!”
“I AM!” I scream too and hug her then the two of us jumping like ten years old girls receiving tickets to a Justin Bieber concert.
Shannon looks pretty with the combination of her dark brown dyed curly hair and rosy cheeks. Her eyes are big and black and always sparkle, probably the reasons why so many guys were crazy about her.
“How did you get here, you…” Shannon loses for words, “…crazy idiotic lady!”
I chuckle, “I miss you too, Shannon.” And we hug again for another minute.
She throw her small backpack on my bed and off we go to the nearest café. It is still along the Boulevard de Rochechouart so we don’t need to take any public transportation or dragging longer time to finally update each other’s news.
“So?” she raises her eyebrow.
“So?” I give her confused look.
“How did you get here? It was a serious question, Ellie!”
“I took plane, Shan. It wasn’t a joke either.”
“I know, silly! I meant, how did you decide you’re going to Paris?”
“You know I always wanted to visit Paris, right?”
“Yeah… I guess.” She shrugs. “It’s just not so Eloise to go somewhere spontaneously.”
“Really? Not so me?”
“Well, then what’s so Eloise like?”
“I don’t know. Plan things?”
“I have this plan to go to Paris all my life, Shannon.”
“Yeah I know…” Now Shannon looks confused. “Never mind then, it’s just this weird feeling I have.”
A waiter comes with our lattes and soufflé so we postpone the conversation for a while and dig the soufflé right away.
“Wow. It tastes great,” Shannon says.
“Yeah, I know. I ate here a couple of times,” I reply.
“Really? How long have you been in Paris, Ellie?”
“Wow!” Shannon’s eyes widen. “What an adventure you’ve got there!”
“You’ve been here alone?”
“Of course. With whom you expect me to travel with?”
“I don’t know. We haven’t talked much lately. I thought there’s a guy in the picture.” She winks annoyingly.
“Hey, enough about me. What about you? How’s your kid?”
“Oh, Alison. I called her Allie. Sounds like you. She’s very cute and smart, you should meet her!”
“I will. Maybe I’ll drop by to London later.”
“Yeah you should!”
“Who’s taking care of her now that you’re with me?” Suddenly I realize that.
“That’s okay. I asked John to babysit now that I’m staying with you tonight.” She says. “I am staying tonight, right?”
“Of course!” I laugh.
I spend tonight strolling along the Seine river with Shannon, talking about her family, her daughter especially and her passionate scrapbooking hobby. She also tells me the story when she accidentally dropped little Alison while she was breastfeeding her. She was a new mom, she was so tired and it was an accident. Everyone was judging her but however she tells me the story while laughing so I guess she got over it. She seems to have everything she wants now and she seems very happy. Not the happy drinking in the bar Shannon, but more of the happy feeling content Shannon.
We stop for another soufflé and another latte in two different cafes, see a couple who are getting too comfortable in the corner so we decide to step away from the second café, realize that it has passed midnight then we finally head back to the hostel.
While Shannon applying a face cream in front of the walled mirror, I talk about all the good old times during our school, our trips and all the long distance phone calls that almost made us broke. We giggle over the stupid phone calls towards each other every time somebody was having a bad date or way too good date, then suddenly that name is brought up.
“Hey Shannon, do you remember Ben?” I try to sound as nonchalant as possible.
Shannon doesn’t answer my question as she is busy flossing her teeth now. I make bed for us to sleep and mention the name one more time, “I was just wondering how he’s doing. You know, Ben… I’m just curious.”
“Ben who? You mean Ruben Novenard? My Secondary friend?”
“Yes. The one that gave me a medal chocolate.”
“Oh my god!” Shannon shrieks and throw away her dirty floss straightaway. “I forgot about that! He had a major crush on you when you were kids!”
“Let’s not make it a big deal, okay?” I can feel my face flaming.
“Why all of the sudden, out of the blue, you ask about him? Did you meet him? Did you guys contact each other? Anything happened?” Shannon is grilling me.
I laugh seeing her acting like a kid, “you should see yourself right now. You’re acting like a kid.” I slip inside the blanket. “Do you have his facebook?”
“Ha! Facebook! So you have stalking to do?” Shannon does an a-ha fingers and acts like Sherlock Holmes finding a clue for his case. “Indeed I have his facebook, Mrs. Eloise. This is your lucky day.”
She grabs my iPhone from my hand and logs in to her facebook account. “Hmm, let’s see. He’s currently living in Jakarta, is an architect, wow, sexy picture there mister! And um…” she kept scrolling, “He is interested with building, yeah of course. Like F1 pages and some architecture nerds I don’t know. Inspirational quotes, uh-huh, uh-huh. Opening photo albums, scroll, scroll, still scrolling. No photos of lovey dovey with girl, guess he is single.”
“Give me that, Shannon!” I try to take my phone back but she’s blocking me with her back. “OH MY GOD.” Suddenly Shannon turns her body and face me the phone, just one inch from my eyes. “Read this one!”
I pull the phone from her hand and read one wall post that is written on Ben’s facebook wall, apparently from one of his friend, “Hey Ben, heard you’re going to France next week! Hopefully you had enough time to visit me in Amsterdam!”
“When was that post written?” cried Shannon.
“8 days ago!” I shriek.
Shannon and I are just staring each other quietly. She gives me that speechless look with her big brown eyes, “how did you do that, Ellie?”
“You never ask about this guy. Ever! And now suddenly you guys are in the same city?”
“Wait. He is in France. Not particularly in Paris, ok?” I hear myself in denial.
“Ellie, come on. Should I explain to you how Paris is the most visited city and blah blah blah. You think it is possible for somebody visiting France without Paris?”
“Yes it is possible.”
“What happen? Are you scared?” Shannon talks softly.
“Scared of what?” I defend myself. “I don’t even know why I brought his name in the first place.”
“Yeah, I was about to ask… Why?”
I inhale a long breath. The flashes suddenly are coming back before my eyes. In front of me, Shannon, the only person I trust and I love who is still alive.
“This might sound silly, ok?”
She moved her hand along the lips as if she was zipping off her mouth, “no judgement.”
“I came to Paris because I read my mom’s journal. You know that journal, right?” Shannon nods. “All over the journal was about this guy named Remy, whom my mom was falling in love with. I know this guy is a jerk, because he left my mom, but somehow, I love to read the stories about him and Paris of course. So long story short, I decided to visit Paris finally.”
Shannon still sits on the bed in front of me, listening soundly.
“Every time I read about Remy, I pictured a faceless imaginary guy, until one day in the airplane from Singapore to Paris, I suddenly remembered Ben, and somehow when I re-read my mom’s journal about Remy’s stories, I pictured Ben. Not literally picturing him because I forgot how he looked, until technically I saw his photo on facebook. But I was just thinking about Ben, picturing that he was the one who brought my mom to Eiffel or Seine river, or did the serenading for her and stuff. I kept remembering him for no reason at all, as if I must meet him for some answer. Well, that sounds even more idiotic because what is the question anyway…” I stop talking when I feel my eyes filled with tears. Then Shannon hugs me.
“I’m okay,” I giggle, “I don’t even know why I cry. Maybe I miss you.”
“I miss you too!” Shannon’s eyes start to get watery. “Are you okay, Ellie?”
“Yeah. Hormones.” We laugh and we continue hugging each other to sleep. I keep mumbling about how stress my work was and I was glad I quitted my job, about how depressed I was after my mom’s death, about Dad changing to become someone I didn’t know anymore, or maybe I changed so he didn’t know me anymore, I wasn’t sure. Shannon is just being there, brushing my hair with her fingers and let me complain until I’m exhausted and finally fall asleep. Shannon is just being Shannon, a very sweet lovable friend that everyone’s dying to have.
But I don’t tell her about my cancer. I don’t tell her about my suicide plan. I’m so comfortable and my body feels so light I almost forget I have cancer. The same feeling goes to my suicide plan. If only I could feel like this every single day for the rest of my life, then I don’t need to plan my suicide.