Fishing in Beirut

March 23, 2010

Part 6: Things As They Are (scene 3)

Filed under: Character : Karen, Part 6: Things As They Are — fishinginbeirut @ 09:53

Karen was sure he took something. The summer feeling had not gone away, and by August she’d decided that her boyfriend was on drugs. This certainty played havoc with her sleeping.
She was at work with her mind elsewhere, tossing and returning to her thoughts. She spoke on the phone to her clients. Ever since she had banished doubt from the equation, she’d tumbled permanently into a stale pool of possible options. She flicked through the same thoughts, repeatedly.
Could she help him if she left him?
Would he hate her if she tried?
Did she know what she was talking about, and know what she was feeling, and was it really dreadful if her boyfriend took some drugs?
These were crashing questions often.
She walked by the river keeping distant from the bank, along the cobbles. She could hear the Right Bank traffic. The water made aching lap sounds, salivating against the rock slope, below her. She smelt the smoke from a cigarette.
Passing under a bridge with the echo of her steps, her foot struck something solid, and she stumbled for an instant. Recovering, leaning heavily on her stick, she was hit with a blast of pungent urine odour, the harshness overpowering in her throat and in her nose. She staggered shakily through the tunnel.
Out the other side, sweet air on her face again, she moved to her left to lean against the wall. She felt with her stick for a concrete bench she knew must be around somewhere, and, finding it, sat down. Her strength returned quite quickly.
“Il fait beau aujourd’hui,” offered someone.
“Oui,” she echoed back. “Il fait beau.”
She heard his footsteps receding, as he ventured on with what sounded like a small dog in tow. The water licked and sluiced.
She returned the way she had come, ascending from the quai to the roadside, and crossing at the nearby lights. She walked down what she knew to be rue des Saints Peres, took a left onto Saint Germain and a right onto rue de Rennes, and was nearly home. Two more turns until her building.
She boiled water for tea in her apartment, and realised with a start she hadn’t thought of Michel the entire time. She wished this forgetfulness would return. Trying to forget would initiate the old dance of wanting something and failing because you wanted it, so she concentrated instead on the tea-taste in her mouth. If Michel had returned than so be it.
The tea was delicately scented, a fruit and herb aroma that could clear her mind at once. She sat back and drank it slowly. Michel and her Michel options swam within her, fading, repeating, making more and less sense. She tried imagining exactly what that Beirut picture looked like.
Her cell phone rang but she ignored it, knowing today it wouldn’t be Mom, and not in the mood to talk to anyone else. She heard the buzz of a text received, someone having left a message. She finished her tea, swallowing the last of it, just the taste and the smell quite faint but still there. She placed the cup on the side table.

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