Fishing in Beirut

March 1, 2010

Part 4: Causality (scene 11)

Filed under: Character : Aria, Part 4 : Causality — fishinginbeirut @ 10:10

He kept on sending letters. Aria was at the kitchen table, the clock at half past one, and she read through once more, slowly.
It was wrong. She could not continue this correspondence, though she knew he meant her well. It was all too long ago. Placing the letter down, she clasped her hands together, stretching. A page swept off the table.
He was a guy she’d met in LA. Visiting some friends there, in her 16 year old summer, she’d met this English DJ and told him all her thoughts. They’d held each other’s hand. They’d written for a while, but then she changed her mind. Things became difficult in her life. Since she moved to Paris, he’d got back in touch.
This letter today was the sixth. The first had come in March, after a silence of two and a half years. It had been exciting, and she’d replied instantly. Told him all her news. He knew nothing of the trauma, the pictures or the pain, but that’s not what she mentioned, because it was the past.
And this was exactly the problem.
How to talk to someone who doesn’t know you now? She guessed he must be 23. Did he not understand this? You don’t drive a nail into the empty sky. She had stopped writing after the third letter. It just seemed better that way. She picked the fallen page up, and placed the whole thing back in its envelope. She smoothed the tiny creases.
Today was easy sunshine. It was the middle of June, the 18th. She poured a glass of water. She leaned out the window and looked at the trash cans, spilling a few drops as she did so. Today she was free from work.
She went for a walk by the canal. She watched the rippling water. A Twix wrapper struggled for life, ducking under and re-emerging, and Aria on the bank smelt smoke from a cigarette. She stopped and stood in silence.
This neighbourhood felt real to her, her flatmate and her flat. The bakery, the streets. Rue Bichat, rue Alibert, rue Saint Maur. A taxi motored past. She sat down by the water, and trailed her finger in the flow. She knew three different bakeries, and they varied greatly in quality.
Why was he writing now? Should she be scared or not? She felt probably not. She flicked her wet hand, and water splashed on the concrete. It made a peculiar design. It might have been a troll’s face, but there is no such thing as trolls. She made another pattern alongside it.
There was something she wanted to feel. A definitive reaction to these letters. She wanted to feel a definitive reaction, and know her mind, unequivocally. What did she think of him writing?
Later she went to the movies. It was enjoyable how so many in Paris went on their own. All these small cinemas, no popcorn, no lights, and you sat comfortably with strangers, happy in the dark. She was mid-way down, sharing the space with six others.
It was a Spanish movie. Hable con Ella. Parle avec Elle. Talk to Her. Aria watched with full concentration – crystal images, Spanish words, French subtitles. Music from hearts that were lonely. She tied back her hair.
The film was low and gentle, the kind you’d like to speak of with a stranger in an airport. The silence of a coma. She cried a little, with the music and the pulse. She smiled. There was a woman somewhere sniffling in the gloom, talking calmly to herself. It wasn’t annoying at all.
Aria saw this film as being about belief. A belief some might find intolerable perhaps. It was bubbling up with truth. When she left the cinema, which was just off rue Beaubourg, she walked over to the piazza and sat looking up at the Centre Pompidou. There were tourists all around.
She got up suddenly and left. Crossing rue Beaubourg, she entered le Marais, and strolled easily down rue Rambuteau. There was a cranky old man selling strawberries. He shouted gruff obscenities at passers-by, insulting both his customers and those who ignored him. Aria was among the latter.
She reached the intersection with rue du Temple. Turning left would have pointed her homeward, so she went straight through. Why go home when it’s sunny? The streets were clean here, the moneyed and tourists mixing freely. Catty men leaned from extortionate boutiques.
She was on rue des Francs Bourgeois. There was sunshine on the street. She walked its length, arriving at Boulevard Beaumarchais, and turning right onto Place de la Bastille. Over the far side, skaters were practising.
A man laughed easily, sitting outside a smart looking café. His companion took his hand. She rolled it softly in hers, and Aria saw this in passing, all the tiny moments of the moving, living mass. A dog inspected a lamp post.
She sat down for a while, and watched the skaters. This was all the boys ever did back home. They jumped and rolled and tripped and crashed, and there was padding, and a lingo. She was sure there was a French lingo too. She flicked a fly from her trainers.
Traffic kept occasionally obscuring her view. Whenever one of them completed a manoeuvre, he immediately engaged in a complicated handshake with all the others. White boys, with their slaps and chest thumps. They nodded and kept their cool, balancing and failing, and starting once again.
“You are American, I believe.”
A man sat down beside her, lighting a cigarette.
She shifted, startled a little, this thick French accent taking her by surprise. Her body folded and curled.
“Tell me your name, American girl. Beautiful American girl.”
She went to get up, but his hand touched her arm.
“Beautiful American girl.”
She froze for a moment, but then turned to look at him full on. A smoker’s face, searching eyes. He coughed twice, and she thought he must be in his forties, a sleepy rumble in his chest. His hand went to brush her hair.
She was walking quickly. She was conscious of nothing, just her movement on the street, and all her tingling senses were honed in on this act. The muscles were tight. She dodged pedestrians, rounded bends, kept her body streamlined as she cut through gaps and space. Eventually she began to slow, and finally stopped and shook.
The energy expelled, and she knew she was alright. She smiled in sweet relief. No, she definitely wouldn’t be writing to that guy from LA.

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