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We dined on the roof top of a restaurant in Paris, and though the day had been hot, the evening had a chill in the air. I wore my halter dress. The flirty fabric hushed between my knees, nibbling at my skin. Fairy lights were strung around us like a merry go round, and we walked to the edge of the balcony, watching all of Paris buzz and glimmer. Can you believe we’re in Paris? You asked, and I chuckled, shutting my eyes, sparkles of glitter shooting across my lids. Honking horns beeped through the background noise of our breathing bodies. I turned and jumped, propping myself on the stone ledge. We were high up, and I guess you were caught off guard. I didn’t mean to scare you, I said. You gripped my thighs tight and moved closer, trying to shield me, I think. Don’t worry, the wind won’t blow me away, I said. You laughed a broken laugh and brought your forehead to mine. I smelt the bitter wine on your lips and leant back.
I dangled low, and felt the pressure of blood beat against my temples, the outpour of red on my cheeks. The wind curled through my arms, trickles of perspiration slowly dribbling, the cotton of my fabric blouse pressed against my skin. You laughed at first, but I knew you weren’t expecting it, my sudden backwards bend. I shouted up to you, the echo sounding loud and it was insignificant in the Parisian hum. I closed my eyes exhilarated at this sudden brush with death. I upside down smiled and you tugged my wrist. The wind rushed louder, faster, and I grinned. My limbs numbed. I wondered what it would be like to freefall, skirt billowing, down, down, splat.
But we all have these thoughts. We all have these thoughts. There was a stillness because I couldn’t feel your grip anymore and I smelt fresh doughnuts, which was silly because we were in the city and it usually doesn’t smell like this unless we were in the UK, on the Brighton pier, trying to dodge the blank spaces between the planks, avoiding the sharks below. I swear it stopped, time. Time stopped for me even though it’s running for everyone else. Marie, get up, you said. I laughed at the wind tickling me behind the ears. Whatever you’re doing, it’s not funny anymore. And I laughed harder because it was funny to me. You just didn’t know how to be free, and though it made me sad, I also couldn’t stop. Being free. You tugged on my arms and they almost came out of their sockets, and I felt like a baby because that’s what they warn you when you pick up a baby for the first time,that their arms might come out of their sockets if you hold them the wrong way.
I clambered back to normal level, trembling but I tried not to show it. Between your brows you had a frown that looked like pinched paperclips. I almost felt bad when I saw the horror and fear that had caused your pupils to dilate, but I didn’t linger on the thought because the rush, the newness of the empty space was still bubbling inside me. What happened? You asked. I heard it in your voice, the fluctuation of fear. Nothing, it was nothing, I’m just enjoying Paris, I said. Your hold loosened and I slipped into you so that we were cocooned. The slam of your ribs smacked against my own. I won’t scare you like that again, I swear. You said nothing and I suddenly wished it was later in the evening when things weren’t so awkward. You knew a thing or two about my past even though I wasn’t the one to tell you.
On the walk back to the hotel, I tried to be Parisian and skip like they do in all the French ads, French films. But my wedges got caught in the cobblestones and it was dark and I couldn’t see. The click of your brogues sounded loud against the tarmac and we passed a 1937 Talbot Lago. You once told me about your love for the classic carriage, how one day you were going to own one. But you didn’t look up when I pointed it out to you. I tried hard to get you to look, wanting you to connect with me the way we had been only a few hours before. I was desperate and teary while you walked slower, eyes to ground. I looked back at the Eiffel tower peeking out from blossomed branches.