We met in Paris. A mutual friend had suggested that we explore the city together. I was a solitary traveler, but I decided to meet up with this person anyway. Just for a day. Just to see, I suppose. I wasn’t anti-social; I just liked to wander around alone. Take things in myself. Sometimes just sit and look. Think a lot.
But I’d been doing a lot of sitting and looking and thinking for the past three weeks. I guess I was itching for some easy human contact that didn’t involve stumbling over my French or someone else’s English.
We met at the Pont Neuf Metro stop. It was winter and the wind was cold, biting into the exposed parts of my cheeks.
I chose this particular stop as sort of a test. There wasn’t much around, especially at this time of year. Cold. Too few tourists for the most of the hawkers to bother setting up shop. The Seine flowed dark green and most everything was grey.
Still, it was beautiful to me. It was a test, I guess. Or simple orneriness. Maybe both.
I was standing at the top of the stairs staring out at nothing in particular when Alicia walked up and tapped me on the shoulder.
“Hi. Are you Sally’s friend?”
She was wearing a thick, dark green peacoat with big brown buttons. Auburn hair peeked out from a grey, fur-lined cap. With ear flaps. Tied together under her chin.
I flicked away the cigarette I’d been smoking and extended my hand. “Yeah. Walk?”
“Leather gloves. Nice,” she said, a hint of teasing in her voice. Familiar from the first. “Where are we going?”
“Around,” I said.
She smiled, “Sounds good to me.”
That was how it began. We walked. She bummed cigarettes off me.