Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Taking Chances, WEP - In a Little Café

This month's entry for Write, Edit, Publish (WEP) continues the story of Madeleine, an American in Paris looking for a life of her own. Part 2 is the new addition.


A Street in Montmartre, Paris, by DG Hudson



A Stairway in Paris,  - Summary Part 1

Anything can happen in Paris. . .as Madeleine discovered when she met a man in an unlikely place in her new apartment building.


Dusk turned into dark by the time Madeleine finished unpacking and began to feel hunger pains. She remembered the name of the sidewalk café that Gaston mentioned, and went looking for it. After passing the Hotel de Ville, she found the restaurant, glowing with warmth in the night. Madeleine searched the faces among the waiters but she didn't see him. A little disappointed, she placed her order with another waiter. As she sipped her wine and water, she watched the changing parade of people walking by the tables. Then she heard Gaston's voice.

"Madeleine, you found the 'Bistro Marguerite'! I was asked to serve this table. Now, I see it is you, my new friend. The food here is très bon."

"It smells wonderful. I had to find a place to eat and I wanted to thank you for helping me pull my luggage up the stairs." She inhaled the aroma of the French Cod dish he brought to her table.

Gaston offered Madeleine a free dessert and coffee in an attempt to delay her. Then, he suggested that he walk back with her. 

"I could wait, I might get lost."

"Exactly. I'll bring the dessert."

The lights dimmed behind them as they left the restaurant, hand in hand. Walking slowly and stopping to admire this or that, they took an hour to cover a ten minute walk.

To read the full Part 1, click here.

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In a Little Café

Part 2

The next time Madeleine saw Gaston, he was escorting a female friend down the narrow stairs to the lobby. She waited at the bottom to let them pass. He looked around his escort and nodded to Madeleine with a little smile. Her previous thoughts of him from the café seemed to evaporate. It had been a week or more since then without a word.

"Bonjour," he said.
His female friend appeared several years younger than Gaston.
She looked at Madeleine for a moment with the flitting curiosity of a cat, as they descended the narrow stairs.


"Bonjour." Madeleine saw his little smile, as if they shared a secret.


Well, that was strange. I'm not sure what to think of this guy.

Another week passed before she saw Gaston again. She was leaving her apartment, when someone called her name.

"Madeleine, wait a moment. "

"Bonjour, Gaston, I'm sorry but I'm on my way out."

"I see. How about if we plan to meet somewhere?"

"Oui, but name someplace I can find."


"Meet me at Le Voltaire. It's within sight of Notre Dame. It's cozy and has green awnings. It's a beautiful old restaurant."







 
"Did Voltaire actually eat there?"

"The plaque on the building says he lived in the building. How convenient to have the kitchen below one's home."

 During the meal, Gaston revealed that his father had sent a letter asking him to come home for a while, as his mother was ailing.

"Just when I am starting to get a life on my own, Papa wants me to come back. Is that not unfair? I know I must go. It is my mother and I am their only help. It just interrupts a lot of things."

"Is it for a long time?"



Le Voltaire Restaurant, Paris, by DG Hudson


"Je ne sais pas. I don't plan to stay there very long, non, but I must help my father get my mother in care. That girl you saw me with about a week ago? She's a cousin who was visiting in Paris and stopped by to tell me how sick my mother was."

"Is it very bad?"

"They don't expect a recovery. She had a stroke."

"I'm so sorry, Gaston. Will you come back to Paris?"

"Mais certainement! Would you write me and let me know how it goes for you?"
 
"Of course, I can practice my French and you can practice your English."

"It is done, then. We shall have dinner at Bistro Marguerite before I go, and I won't be working. If we had more time, I would have asked you to come back with me and meet my family. But with ma mere ill, it is not the right time."

"Non."

They sat in silence for a few minutes lost in their own thoughts. Madeleine didn't ask why he wanted her to meet his family. She didn't want commitments, not now. A few years later, when she walked by the old apartment house, memories of what might have been surfaced. She wrote one letter to Gaston, but never heard from him again.

'There was once a chance I didn’t take.'  I wish him well. . .

*****
Do you think you missed any chances along the way? Are there many you might want to revisit? Or do you let the past stay in the past?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, and I'll respond.

****

WRITE, EDIT, PUBLISH . . .
WEP



A Monthly Challenge, Host: Denise Covey



Would you like to challenge yourself? Try Write...Edit...Publish! aka WEP
Join us for a monthly signup and some very interesting reading. It's flexible. I joined the once-a-month bloghop since it meets my needs. I've also met fellow bloggers with the same penchant for responding to Denise's challenges. WEP can help you practice short writing.


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Next Challenge: September - Changing Faces

Denise Covey - WEP in detail

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Je ne sais pas = I don't know

***

49 comments:

  1. My regrets center mainly around traveling that I should have done but didn't do. But the biggest chance I took was to be with Russell and move back here. It would have been easier to stay put in my routine and life out west, and not undergo such a huge move and change, but there was a voice inside me screaming, 'take this opportunity to be happy! you don't get the chance for a do-over in life very often.' Thank god I listened to that voice.

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    1. That little voice is attributed to many things. I listened to my inner voice too and it was one of the best choices I made. Glad you did too.

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  2. That was sad. We always regret the things we didn't do more than the things we did do.

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    1. That's right, Alex. We don't know which path to take at the crossroads. It's usually a 'best judgment' call.

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  3. That is why I keep travelling. I don't want any regrets in that department. It's planning the trips that builds the excitement. I've been to Paris so many times I could 'see' this story D.G. I love it when cafes have a claim to fame because some famous writer/poet/philosopher/artist dined/drank there every evening. Always special.

    Your story continues to build.

    Hope all is well at chez D.G.

    Denise

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    1. That pleases me that you could see the story, Denise. I agree with you about the cafes.

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  4. Mark Twain would agree with Alex. The things we do not do are the things we regret the most ... usually. You drew me into the story and the loss.

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    1. Glad you could stop by, Roland, and hope you're feeling better. Thanks for the kind words about the story!

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  5. And forgot to say, I love how you insert a little French in your stories as I like to do. :)

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    1. A little French goes a long way doesn't it? That's probably why I like your tales too.

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  6. Thursday 21st August 2014

    Dear D.G.,

    Thank you for your kind words about my story. You are first commenter and have an extra link.

    Actually, I had you in mind, when I wrote it. I am so glad that you read it. I want you to know that I've been thinking about you and your husband and that hope things will turn out well .

    Nonetheless, my story ends sadly because it is based on real life. I can't change it. The details of how the narrator had to carry water and wood to their primitive dwelling are real. That was was the way it was for them at that time.

    You have written a lovely story, with lots of atmosphere. Love the French language texts thrown in!

    Take care,
    Best wishes,
    Anna

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    1. I appreciate your thoughts and words re hubs. He is improving day by day, but it's a slow process.
      Glad you like my story, it's related to a wip which is slowly taking shape. I'm learning more about patience. . .through life.

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  7. I really like this story and wonder where it's going. I think we all have missed chances, things we wish we'd done, or not done. By the way, I love how your writing puts me in Paris, makes me feel I'm there...

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    1. This is a side story of Madeleine, a character in one of my wips. I'm pleased if I make you feel like you're in Paris. It's beautiful in September.

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    2. It's beautiful any season. I'm not sure I have a favorite time to visit, but every season has its delights.

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  8. Life can interrupt many things. I enjoyed your tale.
    Nancy

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    1. That is definitely the truth, Nancy. All our plans go down the drain, as we scramble to cope.
      Thanks for the kind words.

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  9. It is lovely to read more about Madeleine, a shame Gaston had to leave Paris. You capture the French atmosphere very well.

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    1. Thanks. Madeleine is a character you will hear more about, as she stars in my wip set in Paris, where else?

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  10. Good story. I would have made one small change--have Gaston invite her to come visit his family so that it puts more pressure on Madeleine and increases the tension of the story--and the regret.

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    1. Great suggestion, Scheherazade! Thanks for the feedback.

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    2. I like Linda's idea too. But I have another suggestion. Read my new comment.

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    3. I like your suggestion and Linda's suggestions, and yes I was a little constrained by the word limit. I will work on this one again. Thanks.

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  11. Encounters like this tend to feel like unfinished scripts. We want to know how the plot ends so we can see how our character develops, as a result. I'm speaking in parables here, lol. I have one such script that I wish had more flesh on the plot but hey, no regrets:)

    You capture the feeling of 'the one that got away' well. Plus I love your local colour and ambience.

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    1. This is part of an unfinished wip, it's a side story to help with characterization. Thanks for the kind words.

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    2. Hi DG
      Seems I may have confused you with my previous comment. I was comparing missed chances to unfinished scripts. I have an odd brain that's always comparing apples and pears! Hope it's kind of clearer...Thanks for your kind words on my blog. Have a great week ahead:)

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    3. I did think it was feedback and that was okay. No problem.

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  12. Wonderful writing. And man… there are plenty of things I wish I could go back and change. But I *try* to not let it paralyze me and keep looking ahead and moving on. <3

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    1. That's a good attitude to have, Morgan! I'm trying to focus on moving forward but I forget to let out the clutch. . .

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  13. Saturday August 23rd, 2014

    This is may second comment:

    Dear D.G.,
    I must confess that I read your story sloppily and missed a lot of important details. (Sometimes my offline-life is upside down. After a couple of good nights sleep I have given your story more thought.)

    I think you could go one step farther. Not only should you let her meet his family, you should make it possible for them to meet again later in life. Don't confine yourself to the constrains of this exercise with only the sad regrets; this story does not have to end with regrets. You could have her say no-thank you to him in her youth and then regret that, and still let her be lucky enough to be able to meet him again years later.

    Then it is up to you to decide if she wants to have a relationship with him as an older person. She might still like him. He might still like her. Or they may have grown away from each other and missed their chance when they were young. Maybe it was the charm of being young together that she liked back then. But in some cases, it can be fun to know someone whom you knew when you were young.

    Similar things as happened to me on FaceBook. I have had three men write to me from my past; but in my case, none of these have led to a relationship. But it could have, especially if you make her spend a little more time with him and get to know his family. Show us how they teach her French and how she teaches them English.

    I discovered that I still had feelings for one of the men who wrote to me; but sadly, he did not even want to see me again. I really liked his mother and felt really badly when he told me that she had died. I almost missed her more that him!

    I am sharing this to give you some ideas for different options. There is a lot to explore about relationships over cultural borders. You have a wonderful idea here. Go for it! But you need more than 1000 words!

    I think we are on a similar 'wavelength'. I have just seen that someone in his family has a stroke and does not have a good prognosis. Just like my story! Use what you have learned from your husband's illness when writing this. You have an edge over other writers with that experience.

    Best wishes,
    Anna

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    1. Thanks for coming back Anna with such a thoughtful comment. I had actually considered her meeting Gaston at a later point. In my novel, where Madeleine is the MC, she has a longtime friend who watches over her and he is a waiter in her fave café. It could be Gaston, so perhaps we are on the same wavelength. . .much appreciated.

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  14. The chances we don't take make us what we are as much as the chances we do. I read both the flashes, and enjoyed the feel of Paris, you put the reader right in it, with both of them, very authentic. Agree with some of the other readers that spinning the possibilities out a bit more would add layers to it, but that needs a larger word count definitely. Hope you and family are doing well.

    Nilanjana.

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    1. Thanks for the feedback, Nilanjana. And thanks for the good wishes for family. I will be working on this story more. I'd like it to be a short story to send out for publishing somewhere, but it was written to be an adjunct to the wip.

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  15. Oh my gosh! I want to know what happened to Gaston! Are we going to see a new instalment next time, I wonder? Guess I'll have to wait and see!

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    1. Yes, Trisha, Gaston may come back into Madeleine's life and he is a character in the WIP novel that this story is derived from.

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  16. I like how your photos flesh out this piece -- and you know I'm a fan of your realistic dialogue. Nice work, DG!

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    1. Thanks Milo! I get a lot of mileage from my photos.

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  17. Such a lovely story, I even went back to the beginning to get all the details! And yes, I can't wait to see how you reconnect them, a must, now that you have all of us intrigued!

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    1. Thanks, Yolanda! Yes, I will be adding to this although I hadn't originally planned it that way.

      Hope you are doing okay, too.

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  18. PS: The photo's truly added to the story!

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    1. That just pleases me no end, Yolanda. I like visuals too, if a story is based on a real place.

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  19. This is fabulous DG! I'd love to go to that Voltaire restaurant someday. It looks like a great little place.
    I'd also like to try this challenge.
    I'm looking forward to reading more of your story.

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    1. This is a must-see restaurant, Eva, and the food is very good,. The beer was memorable, and in a large glass. Can't argue with Voltaire's taste.

      Anyone can join the WEP Challenge once a month, on a monthly basis. You should have a look at Denise Covey's 'Write, Edit, Publish' page. The next few challenges are on that page
      There's a link in my sidebar if you're interested.
      Just sign up and post within the designated days if possible.

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  20. Oh, I need to get back to Madeleine ~ I hope soon.

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    1. Just let me know when, Inger. Madeleine is still going strong and has been down to the Catacombs, too.

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