Chapter one – Part two
The phone rang. Good. I needed that to bring me back to the café and out of my memories. Marie wanted to know at what time she should expect me to be home. I told her that right away was a great idea.
The girl appeared at the intersection with Rue de Mézières. Same smile. Same purple hair. I pretended not to notice her. A bit pitiful, I know. Who was I trying to fool? Myself? Not her, that’s for sure.
“I… I’m afraid you’re confusing me with someone else. Do I look like an Englishman?”
A contender for my worst reply ever.
“You’re hard to reach nowadays, Mr. Bond.”
“And there are reasons for that, dear. May I know why all this staging?”
“The Taulier was afraid that, without proper convincing, you’d flee. After all the trouble we went through to find you, please understand that this was not desirable.”
“I do understand. Unfortunately – and please know that I am impressed by your success in finding me – this is exactly what is going to happen.”
“Come on, Mr. Bond. You and I both know that it’s too late to run away. I’ve found you. I’ve contacted you. We’re having this conversation right now. Whether you want it or not, this fantasy is about to end. The sooner the better.”
“Are you proud of yourself?” I sighed.
“Why shouldn’t I be? Is this really your dream life? A nostalgic bourgeois cliché of 20th century St-Germain-des-Prés? I can’t help but feel a little disappointed after all the things I’ve heard about you.”
“Those stories are much more interesting than the real me.”
“Please, allow me to doubt it, Mr. Bond. Yet, I understand. We always dream of what we can’t have, don’t we? A comfortable, predictable, and boring life?”
“Did you come all the way here to psychoanalyze me?”
“No. I’m sorry, Mr. Bond.”
“And please, stop calling me Mr. Bond!”
“What should I call you Mr… Sorry… What should I call you?”
“Bond. Just Bond.”
She said my name slower this time, paying special attention to the sound coming out of her mouth. Her tone shifted a little. It was as if dropping this silly ‘Mr.’ made me more real in her eyes. It was as if she finally realized that she was actually talking to the real me. It was not a dress rehearsal anymore. It was happening. Back in the day, I would have been flattered.
Before I said anything, she spoke again with the same expression as previously, exuding more confidence than her age should allow.
“Actually, it’s not that I don’t enjoy getting to know you, but we’re kind of in a rush. So, if you don’t mind, we should get going.”
“Can I, at least, say goodbye to my wife and children? I live two minutes away.”
“What’s the use? You know as well as I do that there is no point.”
“I… There is one… I just need it, okay?!”
She didn’t reply. I was not going to let her debate this.
When I came down the stairs, drying a tear, the girl with purple hair was waiting for me on the street. She tried to give a sympathetic smile. I couldn’t blame her for not being able to relate.
“How long was I gone?” I asked.
“A few months. And we’ve been looking for you for a good two weeks already.”
“I see. That’s quite a big jump.”
“How long has it been for you?”
“About 18 years.”
“I see. Yes, that’s quite a big jump. Are you ready?”
“Are we ever really ready?”
She held my hands, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath.
When she exhaled, the street and the walls wobbled. She breathed again, and everything wobbled more. I looked up trying to catch the living room’s window, but the outline of the apartment was already blurring. The street shifted. On the third exhalation, the buildings and everything else faded away. Guillaume Trabarel, his career, his perfect family, and his well-ordered life disappeared with them.
Frenchman, exiled on the other side of the planet, DavidB writes. It's not always very good, but who cares, the goal is to write. Sometimes, he also does other things.
MetaStructure is one of his longest-running projects. It was started in the early 2000s. Stopped many times. Started over a few times. Let's hope this time is the right one.