Esmeralda hurried her steps as the chimes from Notre Dame rang out. Late, again! The stone bridge, Pont Neuf, created a beautiful backdrop to her city of love. She waved both her arms spotting the one man in the world who held her attention captive every day.
“Hey, Beautiful! You’re late,” Adam called out from the center of the bridge.
“Surely, that doesn’t surprise you,” Esmeralda quipped.
“No, but you owe me a twirl.”
It was their way. Whenever she caused his ire to rise, he made her twirl, so she would unwind the behavior. Undoing karma they called it. Esmeralda twirled. The skirt flared exposing her upper thighs. His smile said everything.
Her tall black boots clicked on the cobblestone of the bridge as she wandered toward him. She smiled and winked and twirled one more time falling into his waiting arms. Even then she wondered if this brought back bad karma. But she forgot all when they kissed as others commented and whistled.
“So, you ready to lock our love for all time?” Esmeralda asked.
“As is the tradition. You know it has worked for three generations in my family. I know it’ll work for us,” he said pulling her toward him as he brushed her hair from her face.
He opened a red lock and removed the key. Handing her the lock he said, “You do the honors.”
They lock-stepped across the bridge to the chain-link fence which held thousands of locks. She laughed and pulled her hair back from the winds that were blowing fall leaves around in swirls.
“Look, the leaves like to chase each other too,” Esmeralda said.
“I love you,” he said. He showed her the key and winked. “Locking you up is my lucky day.”
“Com’ on romance man let’s make this engagement official and get back home before the storm.”
She looked for a spot and found one thigh-high on the fence. It would be their spot. She slid the lock onto the fence. They kissed. The wind blew her hair around his face like they were kissing in a secret tent of their own. As the bell peeled the half-hour, both their hands clicked the lock shut. He counted one, two, three, and threw the key into the River Seine.
“Never will our love be unlocked,” he winked, and she put her hand on her stomach to calm the butterflies. He kissed her forehead and grabbed her hand. He went to one knee and looked up into her eyes. "I know I've already asked and you've already accepted. But knowing all the good and bad and lateness I know I want you in my life. Will you, my Esmeralda marry me despite all my many flaws?"
She smiled. "Flaws? You have flaws?" He looked at her with a raised eyebrow waiting on her answer. She laughed. "Yes, I will marry you, and each day I will say yes to us."
He stood and they kissed until her teeth chattered in the brisk fall air.
"Just had to make sure I didn't have to swim after that key." She rolled her eyes and shook her head then gathered his hand in hers. They started out until her skirt pulled. Caught in the lock the hem of her skirt caused her to let out a small yelp.
“Bad karma with that extra twirl?” she wondered aloud.
“Only one way,” he said. He grabbed the seam and ripped the skirt's seam. “Twirl,” he said. She did. After a moment, he handed her his sweater. In the tradition of French fashion and unique thinking, she stepped inside the neck opening of the still Adam-warm sweater. "Fascinating," he said, watching a bit to close. She shimmied pulling the neckline to her waist and raising the sweater's arms tied them in the front. The sweater fell too long for his liking but it did solve the no skirt issue. "Twirl," she said, no more locking skirts in locks. She smiled a wicked smile.
"No skirts, but yours shall I every lock up," he said, turning slowly once.
The rain began to stain the cobblestone with large dark blots. "Hurry!" said Esmeralda as ran her heels clacking echoing as his steps assured her he was right there behind her. The crossed a nearby side street and went down an alley behind many small eateries. It would be a short cut to his loft. A truck blocked the alley and men were tossing bags of sugar from the raised back to a wooden lift. Other men pulled the lift up to the second story and through a raised garage door unloaded the sugar in the upstairs storage room. "We can get through, yes?" asked Esmeralda.
"I don't think they'll stop us, especially with the rain coming." Esmeralda came to a complete stop her arms swung wide open like a gate to stop him from going through. She looked with wonderment as loose sugar from the wooden slats rained down like blizzard snow. Adam looked at her. "Sugar or rain?"
"Sugar!" she exclaimed, running into the sugar snow. Mid-way he grabbed her from behind, catching her by the borrowed sweater. He brought her playful complaining face toward his and there as sugar turned them a sweet white they kissed.
"Move along!" a foreman yelled as his workers stopped to whoop and whistle. Laughing they ran to the end of the alley.
"Wait," he called. "Before you go inside I want to remember you in white hair when I have white hair." They took a silly selfie of the two of them.
"I wonder how we will ever get all this sugar off us," she pretended to be befuddled.
"You naughty girl," he said, and licked her neck. She twirled out of his grasp and ran through the door and up the stairs to his apartment. Glad to hear his eager jingling of door keys right behind her.
Perhaps, that final twirl brought back the good karma. Because until death parted them, they remembered the laughter, the fast clicks of her heels, and the clacks of his shoes as they ran, mostly dressed, toward shelter from the storm. From that day on, that photo sat on a mantle waiting for their hair to match again. They never forgot to choose each other every day nor the sweet taste of sugar on salty skin nor how loud and long the bells of Notre Dame could ring.
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Hi! I really liked this story! The imagery was spot on! Would you mind checking out some of mine here? I also wrote on in Paris called City of Light, but it's a little different, haha.
Hello from the Critique Circle! The references to Notre Dame gave the story bookends--nice touch! I thought there was going to be a bit more character development, but I suppose the story could only be so long
Thank you for reading. I have several vignettes of this couple over their 40 years together. This is an early one. But you get more about them as they age. Yes, word count is an issue. Any suggestions on how I could present more here? One got about 500 words to expand. What would you like to see? Thanks again. I appreciate the insight.
I thought they would have to deal with a problem of some kind, maybe in their relationship, to show that they could handle difficulties. But since you have other stories about them perhaps problems happen later
Yes. They likevall of us run into obstacles. They handle them on the same way they handle the torn skirt and blocked alley way. They plunge in and hold on. They grow individually and togther, and have a wild ride to Happily Ever After. Thanks for helping me understand.
That’s true! I think I was looking too hard for a big dramatic hurdle to the relationship when there didn’t need to be one. Small obstacles like those work just as well!
Thank you. Trust me they have a doozie of a conflict to overcome just before the big day and a few more later on. Right now they are just happy. But all good things come to an end...just before they become better.
This is great! The relationship between Esmeralda and Adam is heartwarming, I'm so jealous! ;) When you have time do you think you could check out my stories?
Thank you. Honestly I'm jealous too. I keep writing about them! I may have a novel soon. Lol. I will check out your story. Thanks for the positive input.
I look forward to seeing more of your stories! :D
Thank you. We are here to support each other. I'll be reading your part 1 this weekend - if I stay safe. Lol.
Thank you! Lol, I'm sure you'll be safe. Best of luck with your novel!
Sweet! Mind checking out my new story? Thanks
Thank you. Sugar is sweet. I will check out your stories.
Perfection. ~A (P. S. Would you mind checking out my story ‘Tales of Walmart’? Thanks!)
Thank you. I'm growing it and connecting it into a few short stories. May end up a novel. who knows right now I just like these two characters.