The Ballad of Lisa and Lacey (Part III)
(For Part II click here)
Later, back in her apartment, Lacey looked at the open, empty suitcase, closed her eyes to think and the next thing she knew she was sitting in a cafe with a bottle of red wine and Lisa — and the spring sunshine warm in her hands. At least, that’s what she remembered — even now what she remembered. Everything else was just waking up and sleeping and waking up again in the white noise confusion of airports and airplanes and jetlag and the foreign sounds of travel. It was Monday or something, in this movie, but nobody seemed to care. People were eating soup and smoking and making noises she’d never hear before. But it was her movie too, and Lisa was laughing in French and the waiter smiled at Lacey like a grandfather and poured both glasses full. She refocused her eyes and it suddenly occurred to her that the big church sitting next to her was Notre Dame — from all the movies. But the river wasn’t a movie: it was the Seine — and the people were French, and that was Lisa, and she was Lacey, and for the first time in forever the world was pinch-me real again.
Lisa lifted her glass and touched it to Lacey’s. Tink.
Lacey lifted her glass.
“Paris,” she repeated.
After that, there was no beige-green apartment anymore, no fruit smell in the stairwell, no winter wet buses, no back-row bored lectures, no stand around coffee stained evenings — no — no anything. Those were all more than an ocean away and belonged to Lucy, a third year admin student with a plague of good intentions. She liked Lucy — she really did — but they barely knew each other. Lucy was Lucy — somebody else. She was the girl Lisa called “Lace.” And Lace spent her days wandering through centuries of tour-guided art and architecture, until, utterly overwhelmed by beauty, she and her mother had to stop and sit and try and make sense of where they’d been and what they’d seen. The first day, they rejoined the tour later in the evening, but after that they didn’t. They went off by themselves to eat and drink and flirt with their laughable French. On the second night, they meet a couple of unlikely lawyers who bought them blonde Belgium beer but gallantly made their goodbyes when Lace called Lisa ma mere. Luckily, nobody laughed — until “les avocats” were gone. The next night, they followed detailed instructions to an around-the-corner subterranean club called La Fee Verte where they danced into the morning to ferocious Techno-Dutch DJ music and got lost going back to the hotel which was only three streets away. On the last night, they hired a taxi that drove them deep into the Paris night, twinkling with magic. He charged them outrageously but waited patiently at Sacre Coeur and again while, starlit and sleepy, they had a last glass of wine in the empty shadows of Montparnasse. The next day, Lace and her mother left Paris, the two of them sleeping quietly behind their sunglasses, as the tour bus swayed its way to the Rhone Valley. Seeing the two women curled up together, nobody on the tour believed the mother and daughter story anymore.