A Cafe Romance in Paris
Eliza sipped on her latte as she watched the young man. Firm thin lips, distinct chin and very sharp eyes, the man’s glance was as enticing as was his wry secretive smile that curved his lips slightly like a crease on a perfect suit. He was so handsome that the smile was almost a distraction, a sort of slight imperfection that disturbed the form and structure of the face and Eliza stared, sometimes secretly when he was not watching and sometimes openly when he was.
He was seated as always in the same corner of the café with a cigar, a newspaper and a cup of espresso. He was a man in his mid-thirties, with curly black hair and a style that gave him certain distinct charm and sophistication. He would read the newspaper and cast a glance at Eliza as if she was a glass of wine that he had to savor while having a meal. Eliza was uncomfortable, she too glanced back but did not know what else she could do about it. She was on a holiday and in no intention to begin a romance as she would leave Paris
in a week.
‘Hey it doesn’t have to be a romance’, her friend Naomi was talking on the phone. ‘You know just get to know him, talk to him…he’s paying for you poor guy’.
And he was. Eliza found herself surprised every single day when she went to the café and before leaving found that her bill was always paid. The man obviously left before her and paid her bill, that was what the waiter informed her. The first day she was pleasantly surprised but became increasingly uncomfortable as the man began paying her bill every day. ‘This is ridiculous’, she told herself but did not have a way out. She had to go and talk to him but felt all the more uncomfortable at the way he silently stared at her and said nothing. She decided to stop going to the café but then changed her decision as she felt it was stupid that she should have to avoid the simple pleasure of having morning coffee simply because someone is constantly paying her bill.
‘What do I do? Should I stop going to the café? Should I change my time? But that’s the time I have coffee you know, 9.30 in the morning, I go to the café…that’s my time….’, Eliza poured out her confusion to Naomi
Naomi giggled, ‘Oh never mind, why are you tensed about this?….just go and talk to him…have some fun.’
‘I’m here only for 7 days, I’m not looking for romance at this time, you know that…’, Eliza kept explaining herself
‘Silly, this doesn’t have to be romance, just fun…’ Naomi was giggling again.
Eliza wanted to stop this, what she considered as a weird game of paying for her coffee. She decided to approach the man if he didn’t have the courage to do so and ask him directly why he was paying for her.
‘That is so silly’ Naomi said when Eliza divulged her plans ‘He obviously likes you that’s why he’s paying for you…now you simply have to start a love story…not go and directly accuse him of paying your bill…that is so unfeminine’
Eliza did not listen to her friend’s advice. She simply had to get rid of what she considered as a burden and an obligation. The next morning, Sunday, she went a bit early at 8.30 and sat near the table where the man usually sits but he was not yet there. Usually he was always there seated in one corner, smoking his cigar and he always sat up and gave a mysterious smile whenever she entered and took her seat near a window of the café and she would look out of the window all the time to avoid his glance and then again glance back to check if he was still looking. But today he was not there and Eliza sat and waited. 9.30…10.30…she sat for two hours and he didn’t turn up. So Eliza got up and decided to leave.
Just as she was leaving, she saw him entering the café and he smiled at her. She maintained a serious look and said, ‘Excuse me…I wanted to ask you why you are paying my bill everyday?’ The man smiled again, ‘It is okay, I like it, my pleasure’. ‘You’ve been paying for the last five days and if you don’t mind, I can return the…..’ Eliza tried to open her purse. ‘No, no…it is okay, do you want to sit with me and have a chat?’ Eliza couldn’t refuse as he reached out and grabbed her hand, as if he suddenly found some courage at the eleventh hour and introduced himself as ‘Vincent’.
‘I find you amazing and beautiful’, Vincent told Eliza as they quickly became friends and began talking about travels and Paris about art and literature and about love and the smell of coffee. ‘What do you find so beautiful in me?’ Eliza asked. ‘Maybe this whole mystery, we’re having. This romance, so beautiful and the mystery you have in you, the way you look and express yourself, is so beautiful and intriguing’.
Vincent worked as a distribution manager for a magazine and for the next few days met Eliza after work and before work in the café. The next five days simply passed rapidly like a whiff of fragrant air as the two walked around Paris , in the Louvre and near the river Seine. And before she knew what was happening, Eliza was kissing Vincent…deeply and passionately….
‘Ha..there you go girl, I told you …you needed some fun…good for you’, Naomi as usual was encouraging over the phone
Vincent was however asking questions, ‘so…how long are you here?’
‘I’m leaving…er.. tomorrow’, Eliza stammered a bit as she said that and she could see Vincent’s eyes getting even sharper as if he was trying to understand her mind.
They were in the café in a corner and sitting close to each other and staring at each other’s eyes like lovers caught in a dream….
‘Yeah, Eurostar from Gare du Nord….11 in the morning’. That night she told him that one day she would try to return his 50 euros, the money he spent on her coffee for nearly a week….he laughed
Next morning, Vincent was there, in the station waiting for her. He kissed her as she scribbled a phone number and pressed it between his fingers….there, you’ll find me somehow.
‘You’ll meet me again, Eliza…won’t you? Vincent’s voice was breaking, as if he was almost losing a dream, his eyes were shining as ever possibly a bit moistened and his sharp curved lips were trembling a little. He was unsure of something and probably he didn’t even know what he was not sure of…
Eliza was quiet….wasn’t this fun? As Naomi would say? Or a café romance in Paris
She turned to Vincent, looked into his eyes and replied, ‘Maybe’……waving at him she made her way to the train.
Copyright - Saberi Roy, January 3, 2008
All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Saberi Roy.
Published on e-Stories.org on 01/03/2008.