Something else I’ve been working on….

This is one of the pieces that started through the MA course…it developed from a piece of spontaneous writing that I started in class, and developed later at home. We were asked to think of an object from our childhood, then create a narrative around it. I chose a red velvet trouser suit, that I remembered loving with a passion, trying to wear it even when I had grown out of it….this led on to a photo of my mother's of me, wearing it on a trip to Paris in 1971 This turned out to be the last family holiday abroad we had, this mingled with musings on my later time in Paris, and the bittersweet feelings that all of this evoked.

The Red Velvet Trouser Suit

The red velvet trouser suit shines out against the grey Parisian backdrop. The little blonde girl is smiling shyly into the camera, as the Eiffel Tower shoots skywards behind her. The photo, a faded, crinkled, memento.

She puts it carefully back into her battered handbag, as rain spatters down, or it may be tears, who knows. It is almost the only thing left of herself these days. She picks up the heavy Prisunic bags, pulls her Carte Orange from her pocket, and struggles through the automatic barrier, onwards towards the many stairs of Metro Bir-Hakeim, and the overhead line 6.

She mounts the stairs slowly, unwillingly dragging her aching body. She needs the rest, but does not wish to go home. He is at home. He who shouts. He who screams. He who….. She has nowhere else to go.

Finally, heavy bottles of Pastis clinking against her knees, she reaches the summit, the platform. It is chilly October, and the biting wind whistles down the quais, chilling the waiting passengers on the raised platform. The ‘prochain train’ signs empty, swinging idly in the bitter wind.

Then, as she looks across, there it is. The tower. Its sinuous lines glimmering darkly through the night sky. Lofty, exalted. Laughing at her. Mocking her. Always the same.

She sees a hazy, diaphanous image of the smiling little girl, then it fades as quickly as it came…..

“See where you are now?”
“See where your dreams have got you? They meant nothing.”

Silent, enormous, cold, metallic, straddling the city like a giant, crushing the romantic dreams of that eternally smiling 3 year old underfoot. The idyllic fantasies crack, break into smithereens, spiral, and evaporate in the cold winter air over the dark Seine. To join the bottomless whirlpool of broken hopes and ruined lives that hovers over Paris like a vulture, waiting its time.

“Le prochain train desservira tous gares en direction de Charles de Gaulle Etoile.” As the voice dully intones the litany of all stations from there to Nation, the green and grey metro finally clanked into
the platform. Lifting the bags, she struggles with the silver handle until she hears the reassuring hiss, sighing as she mounts the train. Saved in one way- lost in another.


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