SOMEWHERE IN PARIS
March 8th, 2016
He raised a hand to his lips, and with a finger to his skin, he remembered her. He was no longer bound by the accolades that drove him. He was lost somewhere in the midst of a Parisian summer. If only he could allow himself to dream amongst the acquisitive, maybe then he could understand her. He’d wondered why such retrospection left him breathless. She was his asphyxiation; she burned like forest fires and sung like spring. He was always fighting for placidity. For being around her, eradicated everything he thought he understood. He longed to feed her an explanation, to hear her words, to feel her. He knew that he was too late. She was now shackled to her own dreams, cutting the thorns off of white roses and writing stories about the lives she wished she had lived.
It was a form of defiance that felt like home, the kind of reluctancy that left a saccharine taste in my mouth. I had never felt such inconsistency in my life, as though the sickly winsome woman I had once loved had finally got what she wanted. She had reconciled with me in such a way I thought she had once again become a permanent part of my life. I hadn’t missed her at first. There were times when I had thought I would never think of her again. That I had somehow convinced myself I was once again on my own. I think of the life she must be living now, the happiness she must be feeling. I want nothing more than to lie, to say that I do not regret letting her go. She had become a part of me in ways I have yet to understand. She broke bread with the quick-witted and those who had her heart. She was an experience. She was my experience. The unimaginable blossoming of a wildflower, one that refused to wither. She had become the woman I always knew she was. For she was a book worth reading, and I refused to turn the page.
She spoke of traveling the world with me, of the stories she’d write, of the influence I had on her words. I was the man that painted her in deep violet hues, taking with me her ability to love. I knew she had tried, I also knew how much of herself she’d give to her impulsivity. There was a time when I wanted nothing more than to change her. Now, all I long for is the woman she used to be.
We used to dream together, and as I sit here alone, thirty years into my life, I wondered if I would’ve been happy had she been here. I wondered if I would’ve been able to love her the way she wanted me to. I could not conceptualize why her absence had begun to drain me. I felt like I had been on my way to making something of myself. I suppose such a high is one that is short-lived.
I sit breathing in the fresh air of an afternoon in France, holding pen to paper. She had told me once that this was the way to properly allow myself to feel what I was writing. I listened to the satisfying sound of a well-written page, feeling the ink on my fingers, remembering the way it had looked on hers. She had beautiful, slim fingers. I dwelled on the prevalent thought of how content she was when she spent countless hours hovering over her 1933 Remington Typewriter. I had always believed that there was nothing that could stop her from getting what she wanted, and as I sit here trying to do what she does best, I’ve begun to lose faith in myself. I never gave her enough credit for the way she executed her craft. She knew exactly who she was, and it took me this long to realize that I love her as she is and as she always has been.
I knew that spending time reminiscing about the past would prove to be a dangerous act. I was heading home tomorrow. It wouldn’t be long before I’d be starting the rest of my life. I never thought I’d be holed up in Paris dreaming of a girl I dated over a decade ago. I didn’t want to think too far into it. I couldn’t allow myself to think of her, but how could I stop? I suppose it’s true when they say there are times when you never really stop loving someone.
If I could give you one more moment, it’d be somewhere in Paris, alongside the misadventures I promised you all those years ago. If you could hear me now, I’d say that you were right, I’d say that the words you never thought I read, spoke of everything I couldn’t say. I’m heading home now, the place where you and I felt everything and nothing all at once. The place where I spent my nights dreaming of you, thoughtfully counting down the days until I told you I loved you. I never got that chance. You were gone before the sun came up, you finally decided to start living again. I’ve never seen such verve, such vivacity in a woman. I’ve never loved any woman the way I loved you. I hope that you no longer find yourself thinking of me, I hope you’ve finally enacted the freedom you so rightly deserve.
“I wrote this for you.”
I put the pen down,
I left Paris,
I never spoke of her again.
Her eyes spoke in novellas, and with one word on her lips, she remembered him. She’d bask in the thick, hot air of poetic afternoons that begged to be written in. She’d write with a voice that danced with reckless triumph, she’d find a frostbitten tongue in the heart of a midsummer’s night. She was the prologue to an unfinished story, a cry of elegance under faded chandeliers. She’d pay homage to Paris as though it were her motherland. Hidden beneath white bedsheets and untamed blooming, she’d spend her mornings thinking of him. She’d remember the feeling of impetuous contrivance that left inky fingerprints on her greatest works. He was the kind of boy that learned to be a man, and with his action came consequence. For he had loved too hard a woman willing to speak with an effervescence that murdered minds, and he left a woman willing to remind the world that she is everything she’ll ever need to survive.
It was the kind of naked city that plastered its allure to the ground. Where winter decayed under forthcoming sultriness, where I fell in love with a story that never made it to the page. The story of a man that I owe nothing to, and yet I find myself guiltily indulging in the remnants of our yesterdays. I had missed him every morning and by night he had become a distant memory. I resented the way he’d interlace himself into everything I write. The way his character would expel a certain ambiguity to each and every page of a book I thought I closed, of a chapter I surely thought I ended. Now I can’t seem to rid myself of him. I’d spend too long, falling in love with a man that had fallen in love with himself.
There are times when my writing falls short of my ability, and in those moments I remember the five o’ clock longing I once felt. The kind that left me no choice but to immortalize everything I had been feeling. I cannot deny that he is still a part of me, that I keep his memory alive to serve as a lesson to my nearer years. I cannot deny myself the memory of his lips, toying with my words, writing a story of his own.
He used to be so proud of the man he was becoming, leaving a trail of his disposition for me to follow. He dared to dream larger than I, waiting for the instant he’d start the rest of his life. He and I once spoke of love, of what two indelible pieces of prose could do together. Never did I think I’d be facing the rest of my life alone, but that decision was made in my favor. I spend my evenings lost in a nightmarish train of thought, so much so, I am sure that one day something I have written will be heard the way I intended it to be. For as long as I can recall, I wanted nothing more than to write from my core, to leave those afraid to feel unsettled, as my words drum upon their souls.
I’d sit out on the hottest day in the heart of Paris, with my trusted typewriter in my lap, leaving traces of ink on my bare legs. I’d feel the heat in my hair, and the gust of wind that carried petals off into a distance. I was exactly where I had always wanted to be, I was doing what I had always wanted to do. I couldn’t understand why that didn’t feel like enough. I couldn’t believe that after all this time, there is only person I want by my side as I write. The one person that made me feel something for the first time, the one person that took from me, everything I thought I believed about love. I can no longer hold pen to paper without feeling his hands over mine, as we began to write the rest of our lives.
He will always be my greatest mistake, for I’ve never met a man so driven. I’ve never before felt like a woman that could feel that kind of control, and I’ve now learnt to feel that without him. I’ve now become the woman I had always believed I would be with him, even after our love ran dry and was no longer worth fighting for.
If I could give you one more moment, it’d be somewhere in Paris, alongside the hope for us someday in the future. I’ve finally let go of that hope, and I no longer honor what once was. I no longer hold our love in high regard, for I have now begun to understand what it means to exist on my own. I know you’re out there, writing away as you always promised me you would. I know that feeling must be ripping away at your heart, and with the way your heart works, it won’t be long before it heals. It won’t be long before your memory of me fades, and our time together seems like a dream you once had as a child. I know there must be part of you that still feels something for me, and one day you will love harder than I ever did. One day, you will give unto someone else everything you had promised me. I’ve never seen such tenacity in a man, I’ve never loved any man the way I loved you. I hope that you’ll forever think of me, I hope that you remember what it felt like to be loved.
“I wrote this for me.”
I closed my typewriter,
I left Paris,
I never wrote of him again.
Now he found that he waited too long as his future trawled on. For this was not a love story, quite the opposite in fact. This was a lesson, one drowned out by many, of those who decide it is better left unsaid. He never did stop loving her, and he knew that his memory would surely fade. For even though he longed to see her again, he knew that she was better off without him. He had once had everything he had ever wanted in a woman, and he let her slip through his fingers into the hands of her own.
Now she found that she hasn’t waited long enough as her days grew long. For this was not a story of two people who managed to find each other in the end. This was a new beginning for two likeminded lovers that thought it best to exist without one another. It was time for retribution, it was time to remedy all the damage that had been done to the heart of a young girl desperate for tomorrow and the mind of a young boy desperate for yesterday.
They were dangerous for each other,
So they left the memory of their love in the heart of a place worth remembering.
Lost and in love,
Lost and forgotten,
Somewhere in Paris.
“If you’ve made it to the end of my short story, I thank you for taking the time to read it! I’ve had a wonderful time writing it, and I hope to spend a lot more time branching out within the walls of my craft. Nothing beats the feeling of actually having completed something.” – Anisa Nasir