|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.
In a Little Café
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."
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.
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Je ne sais pas = I don't know