Je Vous Aime

Written in response to: Write a story that involves a flashback.... view prompt

1 comment

Romance Speculative

Je vous aime- 

   Je vous aime-

   Je vous a- *click*

   Henry was lying in bed. Staring at the ceiling as he hit play on the tape recorder. “Je vous aime." Stop. Rewind. “Je vous aime." The voice would play over and over again. His eyes were closed and Henry was taking in the words. Savoring them as they played. He couldn’t get enough. His love, his darling, Emily, saying I love you to him. How could you not get enough of those words?   

   Henry remembers the day he first saw Emily. He had just entered the grounds of Sorbonne University in Paris. Emily was carrying a suitcase in hand. The first thing Henry had noticed about her was her hair. Her hair was shining in the sunlight. A deep golden brown that was lightly curled. He noticed her face second. She had a heart shaped face, and the sunlight was hitting it just right that her face shone. She had sunglasses on so Henry could not see her eyes. She was lightly tanned and Henry assumed she had just gotten back from holiday. Henry stared at her like a creep as she walked across the campus. He focused on her dress, a bright yellow sundress, as she walked. Henry figured he had been staring for far too long and hurried away.

   Henry didn’t think of the girl he saw at all after that. He settled into his dorm and met his weird roommate, Drew. It wasn’t until the first day of attending classes that he would see Emily again. He saw her in their Science and Philosophy class. Emily sitting in the second row, him in the fourth, he saw her bright pink notebook, and instead of watching the teacher, he watched her. Henry was fully aware that was weird but there was something about her he couldn’t let go of. He figured he should say hi to her first. He’ll get the courage eventually.

   When he did it was the third class he attended. He sat in the fourth, her in the second. He watched her walk up the stairs, he speed-walked to her.

   “Hey!” He said catching his breath.

   “Hello?” Emily replied.

   “I'm sorry if this is out of proportion but you seem like a cool person…” 

   “Oh? Well, thanks!?” She exclaimed.

   “Would you perhaps like to go for a coffee someday? I would love to get to know you.” Henry looked down and began to fidget with his thumbs. Emily took note of this and smiled.

   “Why not.” was all she said.

   “Uh great! Can I perhaps have your number?”

   Emily gave her phone number to him. “Tell me a time and place and I'll be there.” She smiled and then walked away. Henry sat there not believing what he had just done. Then he remembered he forgot to ask her name. He felt like a fool but he could always get it later. Time and a place were all he needed. A time and a place…

   Henry would later meet Emily at Jozi Cafe. He waited patiently at a table. He didn’t order just yet, he wanted to wait for her. His leg started to bounce. He stared at the clock. One PM is the time they agreed. It wasn’t one just quite yet but it was close enough. His eyes kept darting to the table to the clock. Back and forth. Back and forth until finally, she walked through the door. 

   She was wearing denim jeans with an ACDC band t-shirt. Her lightly curled hair was in a bun and a tote bag was slung over her shoulder. Henry noticed her eyes first. They were hazel. Flecks of green and brown in them. They were beautiful. She looked around, saw him, and walked over. 

   She sat down. “I forgot to ask you your name!” Henry Blurted.

   She smiled. “Emily.”

   “Did I ever tell you my name?”Henry asked.

   “You did. In the messages. Henry, I recall.”

   Henry nervously smiled. Emily just looked amused. “Yes that is correct,” he muttered.

   He was on a rocky start and he knew it. “So uh…Emily where did you come from?” 

   “Paris why of course. Why do you ask?”

   “Well, you never know. I'm not from Paris. Uh, my roommate, Drew, is from London, so I was just asking just in case you weren't…uh conversation starter?” 

   Emily raised a brow, “Where are you from Henry?”

   “Uh, I am also from London.” 

   “And what are you doing here?’

   “Long story. I'll give you the short one. No idea where I wanted to go. No idea what I wanted to do. Father says you are good at science, do something in science! Send me here since I can speak french and think it will challenge me. Go to school where Marie Curie went! He says. It will be good for you. Get you in shape. And now I'm here.” 

   “So you don’t actually like science?” She asks

   “I mean I do. It is something to do. Not entirely sure If it's a career I want.” 

   “So what are you doing then?”

   “Doing it because it will be a career and it's usually a good one.”


   The waitress comes by. Emily gets a Caramel latte and Henry gets a Mocha. He asks her why she's there. Says she wants to become a Botanist. A person who studies plants. She would love to someday study mushrooms. He also learns about her love of poetry. She also loved to do photography. In turn, Emily learns about his father, some sports he did, and his knowledge of Historical Artifacts. 

   “If you love Artifacts why not do your major around them?” She asked.

   “I love to read about them, actually finding them and putting thought into what they could have been used for sounds boring.” He replied. 

   They talked some more. They eventually said their goodbyes. Henry and Emily would go out for coffee some more. 

   “You know you could show me some poems,” Henry said one day.

   “Oh, indeed I could!” Emily beamed.

   That conversation leads to them going back to her place. Where she would read Henry poems. Henry remembered those times fondly. Her eyes lit up as she showed him. How her voice would change to fit the mood of the poem. Her expressions made in acting the poem out. Henry would go over to her place often. Each time she would read to him. Each time he was falling hopelessly in love with her. 

   “Ooo Ooo this one is one of my favorites!!” Emily yelled.  

Il n’y a pas d’amour qui ne soit à douleur

Il n’y a pas d’amour dont on ne soit meurtri 

Il n’y a pas d’amour done on me soit flétri

Et pas plus que de toi L'amour de la patrie 

Il n’y a pas d’amour qui ne vive de pleurs

Il n’y a pas d’amour heureux 

Mais c’est notre amour à tous les deux 

It’s il n'y a pas d’amour heureux by Louis Aragon,” Emily says as she finishes reciting the poem.

   “It's quite a lovely poem.” Henry said. Henry had listened to the poem and only one line was begin recited in his head. “Mais c’est notre amour à tous les deux.” But it's our love, two together. Our love…two together.  Henry began to wonder if those words were meant for him.

   That night when Henry was home those words played over and over again in his mind. He imagined Emily saying “je vous amie” to him. Tomorrow night he thought. Tomorrow night he would say those words to Emily.

   Henry had a tape recorder. He had a phone but a flip phone would never capture her voice. Plus this allowed Emily to speak the whole poem once again. Henry was going to ask Emily to repeat the poem. He would say he would like to keep it, maybe remind him of his days in Paris. He hoped it would not come across as creepy. 

   Later that day he would enter Emily’s apartment. The moon was about to rise.

   “Hey Emily, would you like to repeat the poem you read yesterday?” he asked.

   “Whatever for?” replied Emily.

   “Well I would like to record it..” Henry awkwardly waved the tape recorder.

   “With the tape recorder?”


   “I thought you said you didn’t like discovering historical artifacts.” Emily said.

   “Well this is making one. Think about it. Your favorite poem on the record forever.”

   “Mmm whatever you say.’

   Emily repeated the poem for Henry. However, Henry did not stop the recording. 

   “If you were confessing your feelings to someone would you use this poem to do it?” Henry asked seemingly out of the blue.

   “I don’t think I would use that one. I think I would use “L’amour est enfant Bohême by Ludovic Halévy et Henri Meilhac.” Emily said.

   “Why that one?”

   “Well for one it actually says I love you. Clear and cut point you know?”

   “Who would you say it to?”

   “Well that's a bit of a personal question-”

   “Who would you say it to..Emily” Henry asked firmly.

   “Well currently not to anyone.”

   “Not even to me?’’

   “What do you mean Henry?” Emily crossed her arms.

   “I would say I love you to you.”

   Emily stood there stunned. “Oh well..Henry I just don’t like you in that way…”

   Henry stood there. Not saying a word. Silent. Emily stood there. Silent. Henry stared into her soul. His feelings of anger grew. He thought they had something. Emily stared back. Scared of his next move. 

   “I thought we had something.” Henry says 

   “You thought wrong.”

   More silence. Neither moved. Emily is sacred too. Henry is reluctant to. Henry did. He began to walk towards the door. 

   “I'm sorry Henry.” Emily wasn’t even sure why she blurted that out.

   Henry turned. “You should be,” he spat.

   Emily narrowed her eyes. “I take that back.”

   Henry got closer. Emily tried to step back. “You take that back!” He screamed.

   Emily got closer. “Why should I?”

   Henry grabbed her by the shoulders. 

   “Let go of me,” She demanded.

   “Take it back.” He whispered.


   Henry pushed Emily away. She fell. He didn’t look back. He walked away.

   “Je vous aime." *rewind* *hit*

   “Je vous aime." *rewind* *hit*

   Henry stared at the ceiling. The words of his sweet Emily ringing in his ears. He looked over at the nightstand. He saw Emily’s plant. What a good plant he thought. He looked to his right. There lie Emily. Corners are dangerous for humans he thought. What a silly silly girl. “Je vous aime.”

He stared back at the ceiling. “Je vous aime." Emily’s words. “Je vous aime.” Those were Emily’s words. “Je vous aime.” Her words. “Je vous aime.” Now he was the only one hearing them. “Je vous aime.” They were meant for him. “Je vous aime.” They were his words. 

April 02, 2022 19:46

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

1 comment

Annette Lovewind
20:18 Apr 02, 2022

Well well what can I say? I don’t speak French.


Show 0 replies

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.