Fishing in Beirut

January 29, 2010

Part 2: Aria (scene 5)

Filed under: Character : Aria, Part 2 : Aria — fishinginbeirut @ 15:09

Aria’s new flat was in the 10th. You went up a cobbled street and down a tiny passage. When they got there she was sweating, and she threw down her bags and collapsed on the purple couch. She felt circular tingling throughout her body, with a strong pulse clearly evident, hitting her bones in about six different places. She blinked and looked around.
Laura was glad Aria was here, cause Marie had moved out five days previously, and she’d been sitting waiting for Aria’s arrival ever since.
So had the landlord.
“We don’t know why the weather’s this hot,” said Laura at the sink, dropping ice into two glasses of water. “It’s been on the news and everything.”
Aria drank slowly, and Laura sat beside her. They’d been friends since they were ten. Laura still worked in that restaurant she’d mentioned in emails, the course at the Sorbonne still put all the emphasis on grammaire, and, you remember that guy Lukas I told you about? Well, he turned out to be nothing but Swedish hairgel! A child bawled at her mother, audible now through the open skylight, and possibly audible at any other time also, and Aria smiled sadly, reminded of that baby on the plane.
She started to unpack, then left it, and lay down on her bed. Making the acquaintance of a new bed is unusual, more so when it’s your bed now indefinitely. She rubbed the surface – nail catching fabric. This bed was in a loft, not quite a separate room, up a ladder from the living area, and separable by curtain. Laura’s was the same, in the other room, which contained a desk, a lamp, and a fair amount of the Spanish landlord’s junk. Aria sat up from her bed, and could see traces of Selotape on the walls, where Marie must have put and removed her pictures.
Laura went to work, and Aria had pasta. Leaned out the window, and saw the neighbours leaning back. Her view was of a tiny courtyard – green trash cans about ten feet below, Arabic speaking women eyeing her curiously from windows opposite. She said Bonsoir, and one echoed it back, faintly.
She unpacked to low music. Sat still afterwards, awareness focused on her breathing and her heartbeat. The sensations of her body in this new place. She felt a wave of fatigue buck her, the muscles seemingly tightening and sagging all at once. She followed a tingling from her left cheek to her neck. The things we sometimes do, and the sadness it can bring us. Her head turned to the left, her wrists buzzing warm and ready. Warmth spread now, limbs and heart and soul, breathing coming freer, and teeth releasing tongue. She smiled, and yawned.
Sometimes in her mind she heard the clicking of the camera. Less than before, but sometimes. That oh so strange feeling positioned there before it – a feeling so exciting it was frightening and sore. A headlong wildness, and the genuine belief she was nearing some completion. Her own body glowing, vulnerable for the lens, with the muttered dark instructions, talk of tits and ass and pussy.


The next day they saw the famous things. They took the Metro to Anvers, and there was the glorious Sacre Coeur. Aria was thrilled. It was crawling with the sightseeingly minded, but the sun was high and clear, and together they gazed calmly at the shining Christian white. The city stretched before them as a rounded peaceful whole, looking ancient, perfect, and utterly deserted.
“I think it’s great that you’re here now,” said Laura. “Better late than never.”
Aria turned to look at her, the railing rubbing her arm, and they hugged right there in silence, below the tourists and the domes.
Montmartre was warm and quiet, the crowds of the Sacre Coeur left easily behind. They walked the streets in secrecy, ascending and descending steep steps and gradients. Birds sang songs of parochial self-containment, and the two American girls drifted, not caring to do more than walk alongside one another.
“It makes me think of home,” said Laura. “Although it looks nothing like it.”
One hour later, atop the Arc de Triomphe, Laura’s phone rang. What followed was indecipherable to Aria, and not particularly like her language tapes. She strained to catch words and phrases, thinking she recognised some but not sure, and gazed down the Champs-Elysees at the trafficked lines of shining metal. Americans, Spanish, and Northern Europeans gazed with her. Laura got off the phone and they moved around the different sides. Put a coin in a creaking telescope. The streets came alive for Aria as she squinted, people and vehicles moving, like tranquil earth revealing teeming ant life in the eyepiece of a microscope.
Horns were occasionally audible. Shape and movement in the map-like distant streets. Laura took a turn to look, and Aria was asked to take a picture by a grinning Finnish couple. A child in a soccer jersey dashed past, too low to be caught in the viewfinder. She strolled around and looked west, the sun hitting the glass of the nearby La Defense skyscrapers, radiance held there like sheet metal, making her close her eyes and see red dots, flashing.
They clattered down the steps in the company of many, eyes needing to grow accustomed to the gloom. It was quicker going down than up. Back on the street, they craned their necks to where they had just been, other people mere specks up there now, and probably some of the same people too. Ice creams were in order. They sat down on a bench – squealing tyres and Japanese tour groups. Mushi, mushi. The men eyed them attentively, their near-identical plaid shirts holding pens, cameras, and foldable city maps. Their wives chatted absently. What words describe the sound of Japanese? They made memories for development, and set about the business of collective monument entry. The traffic circled crazily, on what is apparently the world’s first organised roundabout.
Aria and Laura spoke of San Jose. Of streets, incidents, and middle aged women with day-glo hair. Of high school. Laura said she never wanted to go back. They sat for a while, awoken to nostalgia, and stood up then in unison, and left.
Laura took Aria by Pont de Bir-Hakeim, cause this is where Marlon Brando walked in Last Tango in Paris. They stood midway across, looking down at the tree-lined solitude of Allee des Cygnes. An old man sat on a bench hanging over the river, and the sun went in behind a cloud. Crossing the road to the other side, and remaining at the midway point, they stood in full view of the Eiffel Tower.
Laura took out her camera, and Aria stood in an alcove commemorating something she couldn’t read. A light wind took up, the sky and water grey now, and her hair was fluttered gently.
“So here’s your big Paris photo,” said Laura, the camera strap catching on the belt around her waist. A siren somewhere softly dopplered, and the American girl was snapped before the monument, in the sweet year of the Christian Lord, 2003.


1 Comment »

  1. Checked in today for more of fishing. I’m looking forward to the next part. Its very well laid out in parts, and the story is intriguing. Good luck with this one, I hope it does well and everyone spreads the word on it From Poppy

    Comment by Poppy — February 4, 2010 @ 17:12

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