Sunday, April 24, 2016

Romance in France

He followed her from France to Spain. She had been travelling with friends and they met in Montpellier. She fell in love with the place instantly. Students at La Place de la Comedie, sipping coffee, sitting around the fountain, laughing, talking, life bubbling like a glass of Kir Royale. He offered to help with her bags. She walked beside him in silence, her friends giggling behind them, "Oh, why! Oh, why isn't there anyone to carry my suitcase." She kept the best neutral face she could. "Let them joke, in Portuguese he will not understand anyway!" 

They stopped at the top of the dorm stairs. She thanked him in French. A shy smile and eyes that said otherwise looked back at her: "Brazilians?", he asked in Portuguese from Portugal. She felt the fire on her cheeks: "Yes", she replied. She tried hiding the surprise in her voice, but his eyes told her he'd caught her. He smiled, "Enjoy your stay!" The friends' voices, dragging their overloaded suitcases, which had been left behind caught up with them "why wasn't there a cute guy to carry my suitcase?" "Why, oh why! Poor me..." He smiled at her, winked and left. 

They met occasionally the following days. Him, coming back from his studies, her, returning from her walks and adventures. Brief conversations, shy smiles and the eyes always saying something more. The friends' jokes went silent. Instead, they now discretely monitored their movements. He took an afternoon off and offered to guide them through the city. He showed them the other side of the town, the modernity of Antigone, its mirrorred façades in a neighborhood built for the poor. They walked around the narrow streets of old town, they strolled among the other students at la Place de La Comedie, while the skies turned from blue to red, to dark. She saw him once staring at her from the back, she had felt his eyes scanning her body, he blushed when caught. 

He took them to a pub later on, an empty pub with a dance floor, about which she had to hear several complains until the end of the trip. It became a benchmark for a bad night out. "A place could hardly be as horrible than the one that Portuguese took us", it was the general comment. She thinks he did not put much thought on the place, they were just a load he was forced to carry around. He wanted a place to talk to her, but they were always there. She did not make much of an effort. At that time she still cared about what others would think. Had we the knowledge of our fourties at our twenties... 

At the dorm, her friends followed all to their rooms still disappointed about the night. They sat on the steps and talked for a long time, about too many things to be remembered. She was leaving in the morning, early. After a long silence, they said goodbye with a kiss on the cheek and the promise to write. She walked to her room on the ground floor, he vanished up the stairs. At the door, she stopped a second, life changes in a flash, life is gone with a blink of your eyes, she turned around and ran upstairs, unsure she'd find him still. She met him at the top of the stairs, coming back. They kissed, hands running through hair, hands covering the territories of their bodies soon to be separated by the Atlantic Ocean. They went back to his room, but the night was not what she had hoped for. Too stressed up with the life of a grad student writing a thesis, maybe, too nervous, too anxious, too afraid of her, perhaps. She returned to her room half an hour before the trip. He came to say goodbye at breakfast and she thought they would never meet again. 

One week later, though, there he was.  A rose in his hands, the shy smile and the eyes that did not hide anything anymore, he had followed her from France to Spain and that could have been the perfect love story. She did welcome the flattery, the flowers, the compliments. She even retributed the kisses, the tenderness, but she was young. He was there, but he seemed to her now as old as the Portuguese vessels which once reached the virgin coast of Brazil. Their story as ancient as the History of their countries told in her high school books. It had only been a week, but it seemed it had been centuries ago. She was young and, when you are young, life moves in the speed of the light, life changes  in the blink of an eye.

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