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Alex stood outside of the door to the house he grew up in. The sunset glowed behind the large green trees across the street. He could smell steak and sweet corn coming out from the house. His mother was waiting inside. He was excited to show her the pictures of his trip. He’d been away for a whole month. The trip was glorious and somewhat life changing. It was the first time he took a trip outside of the U.S.

He put the key in the door and walked inside. The delicious aroma from the kitchen hit him harder as well as the warmth he always felt in the house as a little boy coming home from school. But there was a bittersweet feeling he felt inside because he knew, soon, he’d be leaving this place for good.


“Tell me, how was Paris?”

“It was great, mom. I have pictures.”

“Let me see.”

He brought the pictures up on his cellphone and handed it to her. She sat with him at the kitchen table as he ate his meal and she scrolled through the pictures of the city of love.

“Were the people nice to you?”

“Yes. They were happy to hear that I knew some French.”

“How was the food?”

“Not bad. I had this beef stew, forgot the name, but that was good. And another one was a snail casserole.”

“How was that?”

“As the French would say, delicieuse.”

“Oh, you went to the Louvre.”

“Yes, and it was so worth it.”

“Your dad really wanted to see this place.”

“I know, that’s why I went. Because he didn’t get to go.”

They smiled at each other. Through her smile he could see the sadness in her eyes. He went on eating.

“Made any friends?”

“It’s hard not to.”

“Took pictures with them?”

Before he could answer she came across a photo of a young brunette with a small cute face, full lips, round hazel eyes, thin woman-smiling into the camera. She was adorable standing in the sunlight in front of the Louvre.

“Never mind. Friend?” She showed him the picture.

“That’s Juliette. She prefers Julie. We met in a café.”

“She became your guide?” She smirked.

“Why that look?”

“Oh, Alex.” She laughed.

“What?”

“I’m happy you found a friend there.”

“Me too.” He smiled.

“How much writing did you get done?”

“I wrote a lot of poetry.”

“Wrote one for me?”

“Maybe.”

“Yeah, right. You forgot about me, your sister and buzz.”

“Where are they?”

“Terry is at a friend’s house and Buzz, roaming around somewhere. Fancy looking restaurant, what’s the name of this place?”

“Let me see.”

He looks at the photo.

“Yes, that’s where I ate the snail dish. It’s called ‘Sacred Flower’.”

“Expensive?”

“To eat good food, I had to spend some cash. Thank God that’s not the case here.”

“Looks like you missed mamas cooking.”

His plate only had some crumbs left on it. Suddenly Buzz, their cat, eased into the room and rubbed against his leg.

“There he is.” Alex picked him up and hugged him tight.

“Miss you buddy. Were you good?”

“He was. He misses you.”


While taking a shower, all Alex could think about was Juliette. Afterwards, he sat at his desk in his bedroom and emailed her. He hoped to hear back from her soon.

That night Alex sat in the TV room with his sister, Terry. She was younger. He showed her the pictures he took and shared stories about Paris. She always loved to hear Alex tell stories, he was so good with words and gifted in making anyone feel like they’re experiencing the story first hand.

“We should go next time, together.”

“Cool. But after I get settled and save up more money.”

“Of course.”

“I mean settled elsewhere.”

“Elsewhere?”

He looks at her.

“You know…”

“You’re moving?”

He nods.

“Where?”

“Most likely here in Jersey.”

“You told mom?”

“No.”

“How long you been looking?”

“A month before I left to Paris.”

Silence.

“Say something,” he said.

“What do you want me to say? It was going to happened some time, right?”


The following weekend, which was sunny and warm, Alex, his mother and Terry looked at a couple of apartments in New Jersey together. While walking out of the second apartment to their car.

“What did you think?” His mom asked.

“It was okay.”

Alex knew exactly what he was looking for. He’d hoped to find it before winter. Moving is tough no matter the season but during the winter it’s worst.

He was going to fill it up inside with French novelists (Proust, Hugo, Camus, Beauvoir) and learn to cook French dishes (Croque Monsieur, Jambon-Beurre, Cassoulet).  He was still locked into the ways of the French and he missed Juliette. He could still smell her perfume- an exquisite floral fragrance. Her hazel eyes dazzling in the sunlight. Her full lips, moist and spreading across her small face as she laughed at something he did.

By the end of the month, Alex settled on an apartment in Union, New Jersey. Terry helped him move in. It took him awhile to unpack everything but eventually he did and once he did, he looked around the place,  which still needed a sofa, full bedroom set, but still he could call this place home. The neighborhood was quiet, so he will not have a problem concentrating writing his novel. Once he settled on a plot.


Six months later, his apartment had more furniture in it. He had finished the first draft of his new novel.   He found time to write it after his shift at a bookstore near his house and he’d also write it over the weekend. During one afternoon, he received a call.  

“Hello.”

“Alex?”

“Yes.”

“Meet me this evening, 6pm. I’ll text you the address.”

“Julie?”

“You didn’t forget my voice.”

“Of course not. What do you mean meet you at 6pm?”

“‘Benoit’ on 55th street.”

“Wait, that’s in New York.”

“Oui.”

“You’re in New York?”

“Don’t be late.”

She hangs up.


Outside she waited for him. She was dressed in her usual casual elegant style. Her shoulder length hair hung around her face. She wore dark eyeliner and lip gloss. They smiled at each other as he approached her.

“It can’t be.”

“Surprise.”

 They hugged and then stepped back.

“What are you doing here?”

“You look great.”

“Thanks, you too.”

“You should see your face,” she laughs.

“Do I look very surprised?”

“Very.” She nods, laughing.

“This is crazy, what brings you here?”

“You.”

He sees she’s serious. He chuckles.

“You don’t believe me.”

“I do. But I don’t understand.”

“Nothing much to understand. I probably should have warned you I was coming but I thought this way would be more exciting. Listen, I had a great time with you in Paris. I never experienced such a genuine connection with a man like you. You are special Alex. You were nothing but a gentleman to me. When you left, I didn’t want it to end. So, I came here to continue what we started. You must think I’m crazy, but tell me that inside, because I’m hungry. Come on.”

She takes his hand and is about to walk inside the restaurant, instead Alex pulls her towards him and kisses her passionately on her mouth. They embrace.  She pulls back and looks into his eyes.

“Does this mean you want me to stay?”

“I’ll make sure your trip was worth it.”

“Promise?” She smiles.

“Promise.”

“Okay. And if this food isn’t French enough, I’ll be pissed.”

They laugh and walk inside.

 

June 04, 2020 06:56

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4 comments

10:06 Jun 13, 2020

GREAT story Keith! Such a sweet story! Loved it! Keep writing Keith! :))))

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Roshna Rusiniya
09:28 Jun 05, 2020

A feel-good light hearted story. Written very well too. Good job!

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Keith B.
10:32 Jun 06, 2020

Thank you Roshna :)

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Roshna Rusiniya
10:56 Jun 06, 2020

You are welcome. If you have time, please have a look at my story now. Thank you.

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