Fishing in Beirut

May 17, 2010

Part 8: Te Quiero (scene 20)

Filed under: Character : Karen, Part 8 : Te Quiero — fishinginbeirut @ 07:44

Karen smiled at the memory. The sound of a cruiser brought her back to the present. It was early June, she was by the river, but she’d been in Chicago in a daydream, a birthday party long ago. She felt the slightest tickle of spray on her face.
Sunshine, sympathy. Paris was promising gentle delight until August. She’d go home when it grew stifling, although it would be in Chicago too, and then return afresh in September, rested. Already it seemed like the days were rolling as one.
She heard a recorded announcement from the boat, an explanation. This bridge is this, is that. It’s age, significance, did Hemingway ever spit off the side. The same spiel was trundled out in French, then rehashed en anglais.
She leaned back, her hands on the cobbled quayside. She knew the exact distance from her outstretched legs to the bank. The sun was warm on her face, but there was still a coolness seeping through underneath. A suction heaviness, tiring and deadening her limbs.
She shifted position. The movement brought warmth, but then the coldness once again permeated. She was fixating on it, letting it ruin her afternoon. The feeling in her calves, her thighs and buttocks, was the dominant one, the alpha sensation informing all the rest. What she heard, smelled, all were filtered through this.
She stood up. Another cruiser could be heard approaching from the west, the battleship hum increasing in volume. It was fascinating the way the water was methodically ploughed. It was a pushing certainty, the slow movement of the boat fixed on its task.
She felt a one euro coin in her pocket. Something inside her said she’d been keeping this for a reason. She rolled it over between thumb and forefinger, not removing it from her jeans. Then she knew – it was to have exact change for a trolley in the supermarket.
She had hunger for a crepe, the butter, the sugar. Lemon juice maybe. She began walking east, along the quai. She passed under that urine soaked bridge at Saint Michel, the reeking one with the little steps down and back up again. She sensed the presence of homeless people, and heard a dog.
She eventually found herself wandering in the Jardin des Plantes. She’d decided why not, knowing she could get a bus back. The smell, the feel of plants and foliage was everywhere, a thick density of growing, feeding things. She listened to the sound of the gravel as her feet pressed into it.
She walked around, twice having to ask people for her bearings. She did this matter of factly, at ease. She had long ago learned that the manner of asking determined the response, a simple, direct question giving a corresponding reply. It was only if she made a fuss that the other grew flustered.
She came back around by the main quayside entrance. The one she had entered through, the way she would leave. A guard bid her good day as she passed under the gate frame. Without thinking she turned her head and did the same. This is what people should do in a place they call home.

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