Eloise, The Story. Chapter Eight.

It was another sunny day in Paris and I can’t believe how stupid I am for spending the whole day under the sun for nothing. I cried walking down Rue Malar, feeling so stupid and helpless. I wanted to call Shannon but embarrassment and fear of judgment have stopped me to do so.

My burning cheeks sting a little when the tears pour out on them. I try to control my emotion but it doesn’t seem to work at all until I see my face on the mirror at Jeremy’s bathroom.

I look normal. That gives me a mood elevation all of sudden. I look perfectly normal with the burning cheeks. No more pale sickly white Asian girl, the girl I see in front of me look healthy with the blushing cheeks and tanned skin. The visual illusion created by the UV has turned my day upside down from the desperate embarrassment of an adult stupidity to a temporary ecstasy.

The irony can’t be funnier than this, that I have hoped for an easy way to die for the last five years and when I’m finally dying, I want to be healthy so bad. I want to meet this guy named Ben so bad that I have created hundreds of different scenarios in my mind of what to say to him when I finally met him. The longing of meeting this sincere twelve years old boy who gave me chocolate has given me passion to live. I wouldn’t think about any of these craps a month ago.

So I go to the bathroom, taking a nice cool shower and my feeling has become calmer. I give Shannon another call and she picks up on the second ring, “Ellie! Sorry I was busy the whole day. What’s going on?”

“I’m going to London tomorrow. Should I book the train ticket or I just go ahead to Nord?” I ask her.

“You haven’t bought the ticket?!” She shouts at me.

“Should I?”

“Yes! If you buy today, it will be freaking 300 Euros!”

“You did that, remember?”

“I have special pass because John’s brother works in Eurostar. I never purchase my tickets.”

“You come here then!”

“Can’t do, Ellie. John’s not free for babysitting Alison.”

“Then 300 Euros it is.” I say, then Shannon screams horray and promises me for a full treat of my meal. I borrow Jeremy’s sophisticated desktop computer and browse for the ticket.

“It’s 288 Euros, Shan. And I’ll be arriving on 12:30. Pick me up?”

“Of course!” She screams again. Shannon asks me again whether I have the visa to visit UK and I said yes. I did apply both UK visa and Schengen visa together when I was still in Singapore. Maybe the plan to visit Shannon has been in the back of my mind since then.

After confirming the time and place of meeting her, I hang up the phone. I didn’t tell Shannon what I did today, how I burned my cheek and why I felt miserable on the way home.

I come to the balcony and gaze through the skyline. The sun has just set and so is my expectation for seeing Ben. I tried everything I could in my capability to meet him but maybe this will forever be my non-sense dramatic hope, that somehow Ben holds the answer of the empty pages of my mom’s journal. It’s all just my stupid cancery hormone playing tricks on me because I am weak physically and mentally. I think back about what I did today and chuckle myself that the whole day was a plain stupid hormonal act.

After finished my laundry this morning, I went out to Eiffel tower and I was waiting there the whole time, under the sun, because I thought I could meet him there. I walked around the Eiffel tower, refreshing my eyes from the sun with the soft pretty pink trees around the tower, and hoping somehow I would bump into him. I remembered he mentioned that he’s dying to see Eiffel so bad and according to his facebook wall, he would fly back to Jakarta in three days, so maybe, just maybe he visited Eiffel by then.

I remembered I didn’t put any sun block on my skin expect my face when the redness started to appear all over my skin so I walked to the nearest brasserie called Ribe that had a safari animal theme inside and I sat down there for a cup of hot chocolate then went back to wander around the Eiffel tower again. That was when my face got the sunburn because apparently the commercial of my sunblock skin care told lies about the 12 hour protection.

When the reality of burning skin physically hurt me, I finally realized I was doing the stupid thing. So I stopped. I stopped being stupid, stopped giving my skin rashes, and stopped having expectations. Adding the pathetic fact of me living with no hopes and expectations, I cried on the way home.

A subtle smile appears on my face when I think back of what happened today. It’s really funny if I look back now. If there was a hidden camera following me around today, I would probably laugh seeing the reality show. Where did I get the energy and the hope for walking around the whole afternoon? I must had been possessed or something. But hey, they said people do stupid thing out of love.

What? Now I mention about love? I really must sleep now.

***

Eiffel tower seems different somehow now. It stands grand in front of me, like mocking me of how weak I am. I tilt my head, noticing of some rust below this amazing tower and feel like to mock her back. But I don’t. Because I know people will still loves Eiffel with rusts all over it. That’s the unconditional love, while I don’t even have one single person loving me, not even my own self. So I guess I don’t have the capacity to mock.

I am here to make peace anyway and to let go the expectation of meeting Ben. I will leave for London in two hours. I just need to see Eiffel one more time, saying goodbye. I feel embarrassed for the thing I did yesterday so I want to tell Eiffel that I am okay now. She’s probably worried about me.

I chuckle a little and turn my body, about to leave to Gare du Nord. That is when I see him.

Him, a guy who constantly fills my mind for the past week, is standing before me, looking directly into my eyes and smiles.

“Hey there! My friend, over there, in the stripped brownish red shirt, thinks you’re cute.” He points to the guy that waves his hand to me.

I am petrified instantly and Ben is still standing in front of me, showing off his pretty white teeth. For a second I feel the world around me freezes and the time stops. I command my mouth to say something but my tongue is like swollen; it is as frozen as my brain.

“Sorry to scare you. I’m just a messenger.” He then smiles again, wait for me to say something, but not even one word coming out from my mouth. He nods a little and leaves me hanging there, staring at his back.

Eloise, say something!

“Hey, I think you’re cute.” I shout. What the hell was that?

He laughs and shouts to his friend, “Sorry, Ray! She said I’m cute!” His friend whom he called Ray made a gun out of his fingers and pretends to shot his head.

Ben then walks closer to me; throws me that smile again, “for the record, I think you’re cute too.”

“Thank you.” I smile back at him.

“I’m Ben.” He offers me his hand, I shake it. I know your name.

“Ellie,” I reply.

“So, you’re visiting?” He asks.

“Visiting who? Oh! You mean Paris. Um, no. I live here. Just moved here actually.” I blabber and I don’t know why I say that.

“Wow, cool! Living in Paris?! It’s like a dream come true! Why did you move to Paris?”

“Um, looking for inspiration?” I answer, even though it sounds like another question being asked.

“Inspiration, huh? Jim Morrison’s kind of inspiration or Van Gogh’s kind of inspiration?”

I laugh, “well, doesn’t matter. They both died tragically.”

“Yeah, but they lived their lives, didn’t they?” Ben tilts his head so that his head covers the sun behind him. It creates a perfect ray of light around him.

“I don’t know so much about Jim Morrison, not a big fan of hard rock. I’m more of a pop rock kind of girl.” I answer.

“The Beatles?”

“Bee gees!”

“No way! Me too!” Ben shrieks.

“Now you’re trying to impress me by screaming like them.”

Ben laughs. He has great teeth, god, I can’t stop staring at his teeth.

“Favorite version of Barry’s falsetto scream?” He asks.

“Totally Staying alive! You?”

Saturday night fever has definitely more shrieking!”

“Ah, come on! Nothing can defeat Staying Alive!”

“I don’t know, everytime I hear Staying Alive, it feels like seeing Barry sliding onto the screen with nothing but his socks and shirt. No pants!”

Then we laugh while Ben is trying to show me his version of Staying Alive dancing. He looks right through my eyes and says, “you seem very familiar, Ellie. I was talking to you like I’ve known you forever.”

“Well—“

“BEN!” A group of people call him from a far. “Are you going?!”

Ben waves his hand and shows them a hold sign. “Um, listen, I have to go.”

“Okay.” I try my best not to look disappointed. “Nice to meet you, Ben.”

He’s just standing there, staring at me. His eyes look deep into mine as if going to eat me alive and I’m there, just waiting to be eaten alive, voluntarily.

“I have to catch a train to London anyway.” I’m breaking up the silence.

“You’re going to London?” He looks disappointed too. “When will you be coming back?”

“Um, I don’t know. Monday?”

“I went back to Indonesia on Monday morning…” Ben mumbles.

“BEN!” His friends shout his name again.

Ben suddenly grins, as if he just committed a crime; a good crime that’s worth any sentence. “Wait here.” He tells me and runs to his friends.

I don’t know what I’m feeling but I am so happy talking to him and I don’t want this to end. I just want to keep talking and talking and talking with him and seeing him laugh and showing off his great teeth.

He runs back to me again, bringing a camera and takes my picture. I’m shocked and probably looked terrible on the photo and he says, “Can you blow off your London trip?”

“What?!” I ask, more like surprised. I can’t believe he just asked me to blow off my 300 Euros ticket.

“Yeah, blow it off! Just like I blew off another meeting with my boss. I’d probably get fired but hey, what the hell. It’s Paris, right?”

I smile so wide, you know that kind of deep smile that literally hurts my cheeks’ muscles. “And do what?” I ask.

“I don’t know, anything! It’s Paris! Nothing could go wrong! Do something crazy perhaps?” Ben smiles the kind of smile that probably also hurts like mine but he, himself looks surprised and happy. I can’t describe what exactly his feelings are because the Eiffel Tower in the background really distracts me. Eiffel looks less rusty and friendlier to me as if saying that I was wrong. I was wrong for mocking her.

“Something crazy, huh? So you’re the one who’s into the Van Gogh’s kind of inspiration?!” I joke.

“There won’t be a cut-off-ear incident though. But I can’t promise there would be no falling.” He smiles at me, with the Eiffel Tower in the background. This is perfect.

“Let me just text a friend of mine.” I tell him while taking out my phone from my backpack. Shannon, I cancelled the ticket. I’ll call you later. Nothing bad happens, ok, even though some falling might be involved. Don’t worry. This is the opposite of bad!

Eloise, The Story. Chapter Seven

Chapter Seven

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.

“Yeah.”

“So, do you still want to meet him?”

“Honestly, yes.”

“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.

“Paprika.”

“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!

The paradox of my life

I never finish my novels before. I had written a loooottt of unfinished novel and had so many stocks of plot. I am a quitter, I know that. That is why I never finish my novel.

Until one moment, 7 years ago, I didn’t know why, I finished my “Paradoks”, a teenlit novel in Bahasa, with a very horrible ending. I sent it to a publisher and got rejected. I was so bumped and kept the script somewhere. I ‘ve showed it to some close friends and they said they loved it but then I thought they were just being nice.

The main character of the novel, Raisa, was actually reflection of me. (I was 19 years old, writing my first novel, of course I must’ve written something self centered.) Although the whole story is totally fiction, I took a little of my character and my personal problem to be Raisa’s.

This novel is cheesy, yet I really love. Because I am really cheesy.

Seven years later, a best friend of mine told me that I can publish my book using the own publisher way, through a website she’s found. I dug up my old harddisk and read “Paradoks” again. I fell in love again with Raisa character and I still love her story. a grown up me, still loving a cheesy love story I’ve written years ago. Only this time, I changed the ending.

Three days ago, it is finally published and can be bought online (here). It’s a self-published though and bought by order but I am so proud of myself, for finishing that 200 over pages novel, written with heart and soul, and 7 years later finally publish it. =)

It’s like having a baby. The feeling is foreign, new and overwhelming.

I couldn’t stop smiling when I held the book. It felt surreal and it was probably the most exciting thing I have ever touched.

This is the “thank yous” part:

Then last night my sister texted me and she said she told my Dad and Mom about this. She said my dad was dancing like a kid hearing about this. I told her coolly, it’s not a big deal. But actually I was freaking happy. I could actually make my Mom and Dad proud of me. That’s a strange feeling. Again, something new in my life.

I am so overwhelmed by everyone’s sincere congratulations and their wishes for me.

I don’t know why I have to wait so long to finally make my writings published. I used to think that I’m afraid of criticism, but then why am I such an active blogger? But maybe, seven years is worth the wait.

I remember my boyfriend asked me one time after he was watching me skype-ing with Renny, my publisher and my cousin, “You are one brave person, aren’t you?”

I asked why he said that. He said, “Have you never felt scared of everything you do? You had a band when you were twelve and you let people laugh on you, you made handmade things for people and you’re not scared they laugh about it? You kept telling people you’re gonna meet Cannavaro and you let people mock you, and shit, you really met him. And now you publish your novel, don’t you scare? Don’t you scare people mock you it’s a bad novel? Why are you so daring to dream?”

That is when I realized, I lived my life with my dreams. I may look so skeptical on the surface, having the sour loveless childhood and mental disorder, don’t believe in marriage or those things, but yeah, I’ve dreamed all my life.

I have always dreamed that I’m gonna have a fairy tale true love, and I’ve found that in Bandi.

I have always dreamed to meet Fabio Cannavaro in person, and fuck yeah, I did. (Who would’ve thought that happened, righttt??)

I have always dreamed to go to Europe, to really visit Ennio Tardini, always dream and always try, I’ll never give up on anything, or on whatever people said.

And I have always dreamed to publish a novel someday. And that someday is today.

So let me tell you, Bandi… I’m never scared because, the worst case was only that all the dreams didn’t happen, that won’t kill me. So yeah, people would mock me, bully me, called me idiots and stuff, but again it won’t kill me. But if it happened, that was the second best feeling in the world (after falling in love with you of course) and I didn’t want to let all the fear of rejections, embarrassment stop me for keeping me away from that awesome feeling. And if you planned to stay with me for the rest of my life, I’m gonna pass this value of life to our children too. (And you need to start to learn being expressive and giving more compliments :D)

The paradox of my life, that beyond all my skeptical realist comment, I am a very dreamy person. I never stop believing.

Life without dreams is so boring that they call it death. So as long as I’m still breathing, I always dream high.

I wouldn’t wanna trade my life with anyone else.

Cheers and drink up!

May

Eloise, The Story. Chapter Four.

Chapter Four

I step my foot on Charles De Gaulle Airport and feel the goose bumps all over my arms and the nape of my neck. It feels deliberating and exciting yet so overwhelming at the same time. I just flew thousand miles from the city I was stuck on to a city I never thought I would visit. The city when my mom had the best times of her life.

I stroll over the terminal 1 building as long as I got out from immigration check. A small lady with a very red lipstick approaches me and talks something in French which I can only catch “merci” of all the sentences she spoke to me.

“I’m sorry. I don’t speak French. Do you speak English?” I ask her. She looks at me with confused face and leave. That is when I realized, French people don’t speak English very well and I can’t even speak one sentence French. I’m so screwed! I might have at least taken a level 1 French course before coming here, or bought a simple French phrase book perhaps? So I make a move to look for a book store.

Having ChangiAirport as a home airport for the last 16 years, I thought I would never have a wow feeling from other airports. But it is Paris. Charles De Gaulle is different! Even though architecturally it is just like a smaller version of ShuvarnabumiAirport at Bangkok, but the atmosphere is surely magical. I still hear so many English speaking people in the airport, but it feels so French here since all the directions were written in French as well. However it is Paris, it is special, period.

I’ve found a book store and decide to buy the thickest pocket book of French Phrase I can find. It will definitely come handy later when I finally get lost in Paris, voluntarily.

It costs me about 12 Euros for a small book but quite informative. The book also shows a map of Parisian metro. I turn on my iPhone and read the address of a hostel that I already booked 2 days ago. The hostel’s name is Le Regent Hostel and the address looks so unfamiliar for me, so I have emailed the hostel to give me directions of how to go there from airport, and the replied email was only: Take metro to the Anvers Station. The hostel is just 200 meters from Anvers.

So when I see the Metro map attached with the pocket book, I shriek. The map is not even close to Singapore’s train map! This metro map is closer to a five years kid doodle drawing. There are about 15 different train lines with so many colors and station name. How will I ever find Anvers?

I wait for a shuttle to terminal 2 as it was what the internet told me, to always start the metro journey from terminal 2. So there I am, taking shuttle train to terminal 2.

When I arrive in terminal 2, I follow the crowd to what I figure is the metro station. There are cute blue machines that probably produce the coin or card for one time journey. But the most important thing is, whether I can or can’t find the Anvers station.

I look at the bigger metro map that is on the wall. I almost want to give up and take cab instead when I mumble, “Anvers… Anvers…” and a nice lady pointed her finger on the “Anvers” Station.

“Anvers!” she says it with an obvious French accent.

“Thank you!” I reply, “Merci!”

She smiles at me, “Want—buy—tickets?” She asks me using her body language and her broken English.

“Oui! Yes Yes!” I answer. “How do I do that?”

She grabs my right hand while my left hand holding to my luggage. She brings me to a ticket window and speaks French to the ticket vendor. The ticket vendor asks me, “Un jours? Trois jours?

I just assume from the information written above the ticket windows that he’s talking about how many days pass, so I reply, “One day please. Oon Joors. Merci.

The lady laughs a little listening of my poor spoken French. She corrects me, “Uh—n—zhoor

I follow her, “Un jours.”

She claps her hands out of excitement. Then she shows a sad face to me, “I must go. You, enjoy Paris!”

Merci! Merci!” I keep saying it as it is the only word I said perfectly.

De rien.” She replies. “Au revoir!

So then the first French lady I meet leaves a very good impression of Paris for me. I feel a little less lonely talking to a stranger without understanding her language at all.

“Nine Euros and thirty cents,” said the ticket vendors with French accent. “Passe Navigo, for all RER, metro, trams.”

I just nod and pay him with Ten Euros note and keep the change in my jeans’ pocket. I hear an announcement while I’m waiting for my train to Anvers. I try to understand the English version of the announcement but I don’t really catch the meaning. I glance to a middle aged man standing beside me, giving a question look on my eyes but he just shrugs.

I enter the train and read some information about Paris in my French Phrase book and figure out that the train I’m riding is the RER, a faster train than metro that has only five main lines with greater distance between stations than metro stations. However RER and metro are interconnected in some stations. Apparently I have to alight at Gare Du Nord in order to continue to metro.

Gare Du Nord station is so big; more of like a bus interchange or even an airport than just a metro train station. It has so many levels and I get lost within a minute. I approach a man in a uniform straightaway and ask him how to go to Anvers station.

Une seule station,” then he points to a circled letter m sign with colored blue number two beside it. “One stop,” he continues with English when he realizes that I’m a tourist.

Merci,” I reply.

It turns out to be very easy once I understand the whole metro concept. I just need to find what number my metro line is and follow the colored number. The Anvers station itself is just one station away from Gare Du Nord.

I take off from metro once it stops at Anvers. I follow the sortie sign, which means exit and take stairs up to the city road, Boulevard de Rochechouart.

I breathe in the air of Paris onto my lounge, wishing it could chase the cancer away with its magic, breathe in the freedom from my everyday routines, the liberating feeling from all the horrifying past I leave back in Singapore which I don’t want to ever going back. I glance around and see a busy morning of Paris. A young man riding a bicycle, a couple kissing on the curb beside the bus stop, a yellowish leaves falling from the tree of a month of July. A soft wind breezes through my long black hair. Oh what a wonderful feeling. For a second I believe my cancer is gone and I’m truly happy, just standing there, doing nothing but breathe. I am so ecstatic, can’t wait to see, hear, touch and smell Paris. I am on cloud nine, a kind of feeling I never thought existed in this life.

I stretch my luggage handle and stroll it with me across the road to the other side of  Boulevard de Rochechouart. I take a left turn and see an electronic store named Jacquet with the lost “T” letter, follow by the hostels lining up along the road. I easily find Le Regent Hostel.

I step in and greet the pretty red haired girl chewing bubble gum, “Good morning! I believe I’ve made reservation.”

She acts cool and types something on the laptop in front of her. “You must be Miss Eloise,” she spoke English very well.

“Indeed I am,” I answer.

“You’ve paid for 1 week stay, let me know if you want to extend. Room number 203; take stairs up.” She handles me the key.

“Is that it?” I ask.

“Yes. Do you need anything?” She asks back.

“Wi-fi password?”

She smiles without any reason and comments, “can’t stand being offline for so long?”

I chuckle, “just want to keep in touch with friends.”

She hands me a small piece of paper with the wi-fi password written on it. “The internet is a little slow. If you need fast internet and video chat, go to internet kiosk just beside this place.”

“Yeah I saw that. Thanks.” I reply.

“Anything else?” She becomes friendlier.

“Maybe later,” I smile at her and bring my luggage upstairs to the Room 203.

I scan the 3 times 3 meters room consisted of one double bed with a clean white sheet, thank god for that, a small wooden bed-side table with a storybook style lamp on it, an empty table attached to the wall and one wooden wardrobe. I will spend the next two weeks sleeping on it, not bad for 75 Euros a night. However I should find cheaper way to stay long term in Paris. But first thing first, I open my luggage and unpack some of my clothes to the wardrobe. I bring my toiletries to the shared bathroom just outside my rented room and take a shower.

When my iPhone finally connects to the internet, I receive so many notifications, but none of them from a real person. All the notifications are just probably promotion offers, scam emails, facebook games invitations or unnecessary whatsapp messages. Then I remember Ben, so I search his facebook from Shannon’s friend list.

I see a picture of him holding a very big beer glass. I probably won’t recognize him if I met him on the streets. He is definitely an unfamiliar face to me. Should I add his facebook?

I’m stunned for a while, just looking at his picture. Why all of sudden, I remembered him on the plane, of all everyone else? He was nobody. I never knew him personally. He was just a boy who gave me a chocolate medal when I was 12 years old. He probably didn’t even remember that.

Then I click the back button to Shannon’s facebook page. It has been so long since I talked to her. She doesn’t update her facebook often. I know that because I check her facebook regularly, to find out what is going on in her life. I know I’m pathetic.

I press the home button of my iPhone and open google map, trying to record the information I could gather on how to go to my next journey, while I’m connected to the internet.

I put on my worn out green jeans jacket and my canvass shoes, ready to explore. I swallow the three pills Dr. Boey gave me and realize that the pills will only last for like four more days. After that, I will be facing cancer defenseless.

I hush away the negative thoughts as soon as possible from my mind because I don’t want the cancer thing ruins my Parisian mood in the first day here. So I step down to first storey and see the red haired girl again.

“Going out?” She asks.

“Yes,” I reply. “Anyway, I’m Eloise,” offering my hand to her.

She shakes it warmly, “Bernadette.”

“Nice to meet you, Bernadette,” I say.

“Nice to meet you too, Eloise. Have a nice time in Paris.”

“I will.” I grin and wave a small goodbye gesture to her.

I quickly walk to Anvers station, took the metro towards Porte Dauphine, alight at Charles de Gaulle Etoile to transfer to metro line number 6 and finally arrive at Bir-Hakeim station. I get out from the station to Boulevard de Grenelle, just like I memorize from the google map, stroll along the road and take the right turn to Quai Branly.

There it is the great and the amazing Eiffel tower standing tall from afar. I march my steps faster and closer to the Eiffel tower, crossing the roads without even looking for the green man. The closer I get to the tower, the faster my heartbeat is, like a pirate finally have found the treasure.

I’m not so sure about the excitement I feel because it is all new for me. The pumping of my heart, the infinite grin of my mouth and the nauseated feeling in my stomach, all mixed up together creating this joyous fear like a complete paradox.

The words from my mom’s journal are flying in front of my eyes. Eiffel tower, midnight, the smell of the grass after the rain, lights, Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, beauty, Seine River, the sparkle of Remy’s eyes… Remy’s eyes.

Remy’s eyes.

Then I stop running when I feel my shoe stepped on a grass. I’m standing there in front of the Eiffel tower, and suddenly everything that my mom wrote makes sense.

P.S. Sorry it’s been a long time since Chapter three. I have been hooked up with novels that has setting in Paris, did some research about Paris as well. =)