Jeremy resumes his snoring in no time right after he finishes the sandwich, this time he falls asleep in the living room. I lock my bed room just for safety purpose since I keep thousands of Euros inside my suitcase. I’m thinking to open a bank, but the hassle of opening a bank in a foreign country won’t be worth it since I will be dead soon.
I take one piece of 100 Euros note for dinner and groceries and put it in my brown sling bag together with my iPhone and the metro pass card. Jeremy is surely somewhere between Hawaii and seventh heaven now so I lock the front door.
A mouth watering fragrance of Garlic and Wine from L’amie Jean greets me when I walk out from the five storeys flat. It’s always nice to be greeted by a delicious smell of food, kind of make me hungry again, which I am very rarely feeling hungry lately. Some scooters and cars are parked along the Rue Malar like usual so I have to walk in the middle of the road. It’s a ten minutes walk from Jeremy’s flat to La Tour-Maubourg metro station. It’s almost noon already and I probably will skip my lunch because I just had a very late breakfast. Jeremy was right, today is a very sunny day and I love the feel of sunshine on my skin. It will bring a little color to my now pale skin. I used to have a nice yellowish tan before the cancer and now I just look like a regular sick person while people see me as a very white Asian girl.
The metro ride is very short to LouvreMuseum, although I have to change train in Concorde intersection. It’s only four station away so I don’t have enough time to google all the possible hotels that Ben probably stays at, adding the facts that I’m not good at doing research online.
I walk straight to Rue de Rivoli once I exit the station, where all the hotels lined up nicely. It is a sunny day so I’m a little bit exhausted and I’m having cold sweats. I feel weird about my body and get uncomfortable easily. I walk along the road until I see the Joan of Arc statue roamed by people posing for photos. I just realize that I never take pictures at all since I arrived in Paris. I’m not sure why, maybe I just forget that when people visit a new place, they must or usually have the tendency to take photos or maybe I don’t need photos because they will become memories and I don’t need memories, do I?
All the hotels that I passed by are not grand enough for holding an architectural conference but how would I know, I didn’t even stop at any of them and going in. I’m not sure anymore what I am doing now. I’m just wandering around the LouvreMuseum which is super mega huge without a specific destination.
Now I’m standing in front of Starbucks, staring idiotically to all the buildings around Louvre that look the same. All the ivory buildings are the typical Parisian Stone buildings with balconies and curved arches, whether that is a hotel, a laundry place, a café or even a McDonald’s. Now I feel my plan is so not well-planned. I should remember how big Louvre is. Even coming here ten times won’t give me enough times to explore all the arts, how will I find one hotel that captivates Ben in it just by hours? I am plainly stupid and delusional. Why am I like this? I don’t usually rush into things. Like Shannon said, I always plan things properly, using my brain instead of heart. This makes me feel powerless and again, stupid.
A strong smell of coffee tickles me when a man coming out from Starbucks and let the door opened for a while, spreading the inviting coffee scent. I don’t have any choice but stepping inside and having a cup of coffee, letting my mind rests a bit.
After I ordered an ice vanilla latte, I wait the Barista to make my coffee and he calls my name when he finishes. Because my name is originated from France, it is spelled perfectly on my Latte cup, the first time ever. I never got my name spelled correctly in any Starbucks in Asia. They usually just wrote “Louise” or worse “Eeloys”.
There are three empty tables in the left corner and I choose the one nearest to the window. I sit on the wooden chair, sip my coffee and begin to call Shannon. She doesn’t seem available to answer my phone so I stop calling after the fifth times. I hear people talking in French, in language I don’t understand and somehow it’s bugging me. I don’t know what’s happening to me, back in Singapore I had always surrounded by people who was talking Chinese which I didn’t understand and it didn’t bother me, now, I’m surrounded by the most sophisticated language and I’m angry?
I don’t like the feeling I’m feeling now, uneasy, bothered, emotional and so tense. Sometimes I even feel like I can’t breathe and the non stop dizziness really suffocates me. Dr Boey said that if I stop the medication, I’d start becoming very pale and weaker and eventually will be dead. Well, at least I won’t lose my hair at all and will not be bald inside my coffin.
I spend 3 hours sitting in Starbucks, drinking coffee, eating a slice of cheesecake and do people watching. Sometimes I refresh Ben’s facebook wall but no new activity whatsoever. I get bored and leave to find a grocery store. I always love grocery shopping and this time, I’ll need my iPhone to translate most of the items. Potato chips are listed first in my mind and the ingredients of tonight’s possible American dinner.
My iPhone rings just when I open the front door of Jeremy’s flat. I answer the phone knowing who it is. There are only two persons whom I give my number to, Jeremy who is sitting in front of his PC desk as I enter the house and Shannon who is the one calling now.
“Sorry I was busy. What’s a matter?” She says.
I sigh, “Nothing. I just feel like talking to you.”
“Did you meet him?” She asked.
“No.” I answered while putting all my groceries on the kitchen counter.
“That is why you’re in the bad mood now?”
“I don’t know. Maybe. Is that stupid?”
Shannon doesn’t answer my question.
“It’s stupid, isn’t it?” I raise my voice.
“It is not if you tell him you’re meeting him, Ellie. It is if you’re wandering around Paris looking for him, expecting into bump him accidentally.” Shannon talks as if she could read my mind.
Almost everything inside the fridge is expired so I throw it all and replace with the groceries I bought.
“Ellie? You there?” Shannon continues.
“So, do you still want to meet him?”
“Do you want me to talk to him?”
“No. I feel like a fool now. I mean, what are the odds of bumping into people you know in Paris, right? And even though I bumped into him, we probably didn’t recognize each other!”
“Well, you were just trying,” Shannon tried to be wise. “So what’s your plan for tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow is Friday, it’s my laundry day.”
“You’re gonna do laundry for the whole day?”
“No, I’m gonna do laundry for one hour and be sulky for the next 23 hours.”
Shannon laughs, “Just come here, to London.”
“Yeah, probably on Saturday.” I say as I prepare dinner for me and Jeremy.
“Are you cooking?” Again, Shannon is like a wizard.
“How do you know?” I shriek.
“Just guessing. I know you so well, Ellie. I could find out what you’re doing just from the sound of your breathing.”
“Gee! That’s weird, Shannon!”
Shannon laughs like crazy now, “I heard you chopping the board, you idiot!”
I laugh along with her and feeling a little idiotic, “I’ll talk to you later, ok, freak?”
She gives me a teasing kissy sound and hangs up the phone.
Jeremy suddenly appears beside me like a ghost and I jump a little realizing his existence. “Hey, watch out the knife, missy!” He says.
“You appeared soundless like a ghost!” I blame him.
“What are you cooking?” He doesn’t bother to apologize.
“Mac and Cheese. Are you okay with that? I thought you love American food.”
“And what is that you’re chopping?” He points to the board.
“You put paprika on Mac and Cheese?” He raises his voice.
I stop chopping at once, knowing this paprika will goes to trash anyway. “Ok, so you don’t like it…”
He grins and shows a guilty face, “I’ll treat you lunch tomorrow for wasting that paprika.”
“It’s okay, you don’t have to do that.” I smile at him. Suddenly Jeremy laughs so I look at him with my confused face.
“I was asking you out you know.” He says. “Why? Do you have a boyfriend or something?”
“Well, I don’t have a boyfriend. But I do have the or something.” I joke. The timer rings, signifies the macaronis have been cooked al dente. I turn off the stove and rinse the water and put them on butter.
Jeremy is still there watching me cooking the cheese paste. “How old are you, Eloise?” He asks.
“Well, Jeremy. Two things you must know not to ever ask from women are their age and their weight.” I smile at him, “but this time I give you exception. I’m twenty eight, why do you ask?”
He looks surprised, “Man! You don’t look like twenty eight. If we’re going out you’d be like cougar. Good thing you have that or something.” He chuckles and goes back to the living room, sitting on the sofa.
“Well, I take that as a compliment.” I mumble. This Jeremy, not only childish and spoiled, also could be a little annoying. I just need to remember how pretty my bedroom is. He says thank you three times for the dinner though and saying that it’s the most American meal he’s ever eaten for the last three months so his little annoyance for calling me old is paid off. However I’m still doing the dishes, so he’s back to annoying spoiled little brat in five minutes.
I like Jeremy though. He’s like Jerome, same age and same attitude. That makes me miss him, my only brother, whom I was very close to when we were both kids. Every time we ate Mom’s fried chicken, we played an imaginary fried chicken restaurant named Kenstupy, probably a pun of Kentucky. He was the restaurant manager and I was the chef. Come to think of it, fried chicken joint won’t need a chef but we were so into this imaginary restaurant so the details of the restaurant was being more and more real every time we ate the friend chicken. We even made the price list and measured different sizes of rice cups.
I never had problem with Jerome before and I didn’t remember why we drifted apart. We were suddenly separated into two teams when my Dad had a big fight with my Mom and he hit her. Jerome was in Dad’s team and I was in Mom’s team. Since then, we all were drifted apart. Everything was never fine anymore.
What is Jerome doing now? Does he still remember that Kenstupy thing?
A buzz from my phone awakes me from a daydream of my imaginary fried chicken joint, just when I need a distraction from this very sad memory. I get a text from Shannon, “Open Ben’s facebook. Now!”
I don’t waste any more seconds to do what she asked me to do. There’s an update status from him, “Oh Jean Valjean, please release me. I am no Javert, nor Thenardiers, why do you take revenge on me with this endless meeting. I need to see Eiffel Tower so badly!”
There’s a sting on my heart, not a painful sting but a ticklish exciting sting. He mentions names from Les Miserables. He reads the book my mom mentioned to me hundred times before.
My phone buzzes again “I know you read it like a thousand times, but there are a lot of people like that book too ok?”
Maybe Shannon’s right. I don’t need to be so dramatic about this. So what if Ben’s using preferences from Les Miserables?
Another text message from Shannon appears on the screen of my phone, “Ah, who am I kidding? Shit, Ellie! He’s your SOULMATE!”P.S: I’ve edited the whole story from chapter one to chapter six. I changed the past tense writing to present tense because I consider present tense to be more suitable for the story. I also changed some things after doing some fact checking and I improved some of the storyline. If it’s not much to ask, you might re-read the whole chapters again. Or just wait until the whole novel to be finished and re-read the whole thing again. =) ENJOY!