Note to those who are French, my french may be incorrect, if so, please, forgive my novice attempt, and correct my french as I want to learn and improve my french.
A Love Story for Valentine's Day
I am sitting at a outside table at Cafe Les Deux Magots on Boulevard St. Germain watching the people go by while my two beautiful granddaughters, now 16 years old, and I are sipping our coffee au lait. The street is noisy and lively with the many youth and adults enjoying the October weather in Paris, France for the International Youth Summit For Peace Alliance held each year in different countries.
We are enjoying watching the people come and go, and we chat about them making up stories about their lives while enjoying our coffee and pastries. The air is crisp and cool, the drink and food more flavorful than usual.
In the milieu of different races, colors, creeds all strolling about taking in the sights and enjoying the afternoon before the conference meetings later, Jojo notices a beautiful Indian teenager crossing the street walking towards the empty tables near by.
"Oh, look, Moni, there is a maiden princess, oui?"
I am looking at the imposing tall man walking by the girl's side instead of the girl. Beth continues the story. "Look at that tall man next to her, he must be her servant, here to protect her from any suitors with ill intentions." Jojo and Beth giggle as they eat a bite of their mille-feuille and drink their coffee.
I look into the maiden's eyes and see the pools of shimmering fire so much like the flame in her uncle's eyes 12 years ago. I am lost in a little girl's smile and bubbly hello on the phone from what seemed another lifetime ago. I am lost on a moonlite night with the tall imposing man walking by this lovely creature of a young woman. I blink to start time again. I take a deep breath and slowly exhale. Jojo tilts her head in contemplation while watching the two characters traverse between chairs and tables to sit 10 tables down from us and order their refreshment. "No, he is not her bodyguard, they are lovers! Do you think they are lovers, Moni?"
I couldn't help but stare at you and your niece. I smiled at Jojo's conjucture. Twelve years, it seemed like yesterday since I last heard from you. Your business extremely successful, your marriage splendid, 2 children, a boy and a girl... I look around to see if they are with you... let's see, the boy would be 8 and the girl would be 6 now. You had waited 4 years before having children. You and Severine traveled the world building your import business and reputation. You still look as handsome as ever even more so with the slight gray around the temples so my heart thinks.
"Are you cold?" Jojo asks, putting her hand on mine to stop it from trembling the cup held suspended in mid air.
"No, dear, I just felt the kiss of a beautiful breeze and had the goosebumps."
"Oh, look, she is wearing a beautiful bracelet, you can see it sparkling in the sun from here! I bet he gave it to her." Beth excitedly said as she pointed to it and looked at me for confirmation of her find. "Moni, did the breeze blow something in your eye? Your eye is watering."
"Maybe so." I held Beth's hand lovingly for a moment. "Maybe it is just allergy to the pollen in the air." I dab my eye with the napkin in my lap and the movement of my hand catches the sun's rays on the silver bracelet of etched flowers on my wrist to make the bracelet's jeweled reflection dance across the table cloth in strobe light swirls.
Jojo continues, "They are lovers stole away to the hotel incognito because he is sooooooooo old for her." Jojo giggles. "What would her parents think?"
I smile widely and then ask Jojo,"Do you think he is handsome?"
"For an older guy, oh my, yes! Look at how he is a gentleman, too! He pours her cup of drink before his own. His eyes are brimming with love for her."
"He is much too old for them to be lovers!" Beth has watched and decided to change the story.
"He is her grandfather! He looks at her like papa use to look at us."
I laugh loudly at the thought of your blusterous denial and furrowed brow to "he's too old" and then mute my voice with a sip of coffee, but almost spew it out onto the table because I am still so amused by Beth's comment. I turn my head away so you cannot see my face if the laugh should by chance be heard by you or you should recognize it after all these years, but fortunately the cacophony of the street hides any of my laughter from your ears.
"He IS old, Moni!!" Beth says with a hint of indignation in her voice.
"Like me, my dear?" I smile back at her and she realizes the laughter was not about her.
"God forbid, Moni! You will never be old. That is why we love you!" Each of the girls rise and kiss me on my cheeks at the same time.
"Ah, my sweet girls, I love you, too, for your sweet flattery."
"So, Moni, what is the story of these two?" Jojo asks.
I pause for a moment, reliving a life time in that pause. I shift my weight forward and lean my elbows on the table. I take the last sip of my coffee. The girls wait patiently expecting that pause to be the beginning of a fine story to hear. "He is her uncle and he is telling her the story of perfect love between a man and a woman who met by chance through the popular internet forums of a decade ago. They lived a lifetime of deep love and friendship that no words could describe.
"Like that of Penelope and Odysseus, Moni?"
"Yes, dear, and more."
"Was he the man in the story?" Beth began the questions to complete the story as the little game of story telling again commenced.
"Yes, he was."
"Ah, and who was the woman?" Jojo asked "What was her name?"
"Her name was...," I paused for an hour in only one second, "Lady Margaret."
"Just like your name?" The girls giggled as they asked it together. "Snap!" again together and we laughed.
"Yes, just like my name."
"Then she was of some noble family... hmmmm, a queen of her kingdom and he then a king, a prince?? What?" Both girls were now absorbed into the fleshing out of the story.
"Did he marry her?"
"No, he would not, could not." The girls frowned a bit at the sad turn of the story. I continued quickly to avert the question, "Why?" being asked. "But he did marry another woman who filled his heart full of even more perfect love. Lady Margaret would let go of her love for him when and only when he found a better perfect love."
The girls liked that and their smiles returned. "And what of Lady Margaret?" Beth asked. "Did she find a better perfect love?"
"Well, my dear, not until she meets Jesus face to face.
Jojo and Beth smiled and understood. They liked the story. They finished their pastries and discussed the story together while I scribbled a note on the back of a business card and told the server to give the card with a glass of red wine to the handsome man sitting next to the beautiful Indian princess 10 tables down by the Ash tree. "Are we finished, girls? Lets go find that perfect music box for my collection before we attend the conference."
"Oui oui, Moni. Merci du café."
"Tu es très bienvenu, très bienvenue.."
"Monsieur, Madame qui s'asseyait par l'enterance de café a voulu que vous eussiez ce verre de vin rouge avec cette note." The waiter places the glass of wine before you.
"Eh, Qu'est-ce que c'est?" you ask. Your curiosity aroused at the prospect of a lady wanting your attention, perhaps a flirtation from Severine in her usual fun way. You look at the empty tables and around the area to see if you can spot her and the children hiding somewhere, but there are too many people strolling about to see anyone. You take a sip of the red wine in the glass placed before you. It tastes of Barolo... Your throat tightens for a second, but the savor of the wine washes over you with great affection.
"Qui vous a envoyé le vin ?" Moubani's voice, strong, intellegent, and oh so like that of a song bird brings you back from another table you had once sat at while sipping red wine.
"Je ne sais pas. Un ami a aimé pour toujours, je pensent." You pick the card up. It is from St Germain des Pres. You turn it over to read: Your ass still looks fine! This lady appreciates your effort on her behalf!! ALWAYS!" You look around again but this time you are not looking for Severine, you are looking for Lady Margaret. A cool autumn breeze rustles the leaves in the ash tree near your table and kisses the tear from your cheek while blowing a strand of hair across Moubani's now grownup forehead. You smile and reach over and gently brush Moubani's hair back into place, and say into the air "I love you!" knowing that I will hear it on the wind in my heart and feel it strongly.
"I love you, too, Uncle!"
You look at that beautiful child, no, now she is a young woman, in front of you. You laugh and grin like a mad man.