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On The Nature of Daylight, When a Frenchie Ruins Your Moment

(On the nature of daylight–Max Richter)

All day, I’ve been in a fog brought on by the expansive dreams of last night. Lucid repetition, long and vibrant, they were caught up in the turning of my covers and tangled in my twisted sheets. Breathless dreaming, really. Colors. Stories. Emotions. Violence. Shining stars.

Mountains, broken down by monsters who became mortal.

I drifted down the streets to class today in a daze, a ghost floating without scraping a single toe on the cobblestone. Awash in the colors, the silence of the people going about their days on their bikes and on foot with their petty purchases. Baguettes. They moved almost in slow motion, and an autumn wind wound its way around the corners and up the streets to stroke my hair.

Feeling dizzy with some unknown lightness, I briefly imagined a collapse in the street. How those people at the cafe would react. I decided that I couldn’t afford the ambulance, and glided on.

I feel narratives waking up within me, and I cannot stop writing.

Thus I found myself after class, with figs and chèvre, on the concrete wandering around the Lac. The light was absolutely crystalline, distilled color, reflecting and bleeding across the surface of the water. Ducks made percussive little quacks and dove to snatch up weeds from the sandy bottom.

Really, the light was orange. It matched and enhanced my (now even more red) hair.

Perfect time to sit on a bench and read the end of my first book ever in French. I’ve started and abandoned several French novels or translations of books I’d already read in English (or Italian, or Spanish, comme tu veux…) but this one, Sommeil by Haruki Marukami…this was special. I would give it the just honor of finishing it in such a perfect setting. Almost with a flourish.

I was three pages from the end when he came up and sat down on my bench.

Oh, goddamnit. Not now, Frenchie. I tried to focus on my book.

“Am I bothering you?”

“No, not a lot.” Back to reading. Pleasegoawaypleasegoawaypleasegoaway...

He asked me where I was from, in English. I answered him in French. He complimented my French. I tried to go back to reading. And so went the dance of awkward conversation for several minutes, until I gave up and put my book away.

You’ve got to be kidding me. This moment was so great until you started trying to chat me up.

And then I had a thrill of a bad thought. He mentioned that he’d noticed me before. Had he been watching me? Shit. I don’t want this guy to follow me home, especially since I’m alone and it’s rapidly getting darker.

I excused myself, careful to mention that my host mother would be waiting for me.

“Can we see each other again?” No. But I didn’t want to offend him and risk provoking him.

“We’ll see.”

“Can I give you my phone number?”

“No, merci.”

I walked away, careful to go in the opposite direction of my house while in his view. I crossed the streets at random, hiding behind the eaves. I looked over my shoulder, trying to plan what the hell I would do if I was to discover him following me. I practiced how to explain to a cashier at the local supermarket that a man “was following me, and could you please let me stay here for a moment while I try to lose him,” practicing the conditional tense of politeness under my breath.

I ran inside, and poured myself a glass of rosé.

And to think, I’d just been happy that I’d not had any trouble with the Frenchies yet. Jinxed it.

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