Fishing in Beirut

March 19, 2010

Part 5: Natural Light, Oct 2001 – Jan 2002 (scene 12)

Filed under: Character : Karen, Part 5 : Natural Light — fishinginbeirut @ 08:37

Karen met Michel at her metro station. He had bags of Christmas presents bundled in his arms, and she offered to carry one but he refused. He asked her to accompany him northward.
On the train they spoke about Christmas time, and Michel said it was his favourite time of year. The carriage rumbled and shook them. He wanted to go to Chateau Rouge, saying he had a present for a friend there. After, they could walk in Montmartre.
When they got to the station they pushed up the stairway, Michel guiding her with his voice. One of his parcels touched against her for a second, and he apologised, sounding out of breath. They emerged into bustle, and walked noisy, crowded streets at a slow pace. She knew this was near her attack site. Michel apologised again, saying it wouldn’t be much longer, and then they were stopped on the pavement, and he was shouting up at somebody.
A gruff voice answered, and came down to open the door. Karen heard a rustling interplay, the giving of the gift presumably, and then Michel was introducing her, saying this was Johnny. Johnny asked her nationality, and spoke English out of courtesy. She didn’t bother mentioning she spoke French. Michel did, saying he couldn’t understand, but Johnny ignored his pleas for a language switch, and talked so much Karen couldn’t hope to initiate one. They chatted about the weather.
She felt comfortable in his presence, temporarily forgetting Michel, and concentrating on the voice. It was rough hewn, scraped, story-filled. He said he was Senegalese, a musician, and the harsh Northern weather had sandpapered his skin. She asked where he learned his English.
“It’s like gravel my skin, can you feel it?”
Before she knew it her hand was raised, touching his face, unknowing as to whether it had reached or been placed there. She traversed his cheek.
Michel coughed out of awkwardness.
“Tu veux partir, cherie? Il est tard.”

They left. They journeyed back to St. Sulpice, neither saying very much, and she wondered in her head what fire she was feeling. It was otherworldly. Michel gave her some presents to carry this time, and they ventured up the stairs into the night.
Later, alone, her mind returned to his face. The feeling of the skin. In his voice lay authority, mystery, desperation. She had wondered then how his eyes were, and had never really dwelled on this in meeting someone before. She had learnt it didn’t matter.
She turned over and tried to sleep, and did so after a spell. But the lurching of her dreamscape awoke her. She sat up in her nightdress, the covers half falling, permitting stabs of cold. Muscles ached from positioning.
Life was the thrust of the everyday.
Death was the shrinking from life.
Rest and good food lead to peace.

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