It was an exercise in futility, but one willingly undertaken. Half a day spent in the air, trying not to think of the vast, blue expanse of the sea far below, then another day adjusting, waiting for the appointed day, and the appointed time.

The caf? was warm and relaxed, offering an excellent view of the square. It would have been simple to let my mind wander as it so often does in such places, but I had made a promise so my beverage of choice was coffee as I kept my silent watch upon the flowing crowds, seeking that familiar face, or distinctive walk. The day passed in its natural way, punctuated by the occasional attempted pickup declined with grace and a smile until dusk settled in.

I was surprised to feel a pang of such disappointment that it engendered a terrible longing within me. I had so wished to believe, my so-very-rational dismissal of the possibility suddenly riven and scattered upon the winds of emotion. The overwhelming urge to try again, to give him another day, another week, frightened me. It was madness to contemplate such a thing, yet I found myself in my hotel room, rescheduling my flight. Two more days. I had waited a century, what was two more days?

Those two days cost me dearly in terms of frayed nerves, self-doubt and self-recrimination. I felt foolish returning to that caf?, yet the thought of simply leaving… to call this episode finally closed was not something I could do. I despise such weakness in myself, wallowing in indecision, but there I was.

As the final hours passed I forced rationality upon myself. There had never been a chance. He had humored me as I had him. Such an insightful man, but those in his profession usually are, even today. I allowed myself to think of those days, traveling with a small circus as his assistant. He was not a magician, lord no:

“A magician produces doves from his sleeves and pulls rabbits from hats. I, my dear, am an Illusionist!”

He had seen something in me that intrigued him, and in our final year together I had told him in an offhand way of my unusual circumstance. Like any rational person he assumed I was lying, or deluded, or both. Yet he had played along and there had been a certain connection between us those final months before I moved on. He promised he would learn my secret and join me here in one hundred years. I had promised to be here.

I kept my promise. That he would be unable to keep his had been a foregone conclusion. That knowledge was cold comfort to me now.

As I gathered my things, preparing to leave, someone caught my eye- a woman, perhaps forty years old. She had been in the caf? every evening, arriving perhaps an hour before I departed each night. She deliberately made eye contact with me and she smiled, then rose from her table and approached me. She was handsome, her face a study in delicate beauty and aristocratic grace, with wide set eyes of grey framed in blonde hair going gracefully silver. I returned her smile.

“Forgive my intrusion, but you do look so very sad,” she said, her voice soft and warm, her French flavored with the accent of a Londoner.

“Oh, it really is nothing. Rather foolish of me, to be honest. My name is Genevieve.”

“Elizabeth,” she replied, taking a seat at my table, “I really must apologize- I have been watching you for the past two nights…” and she laid her right hand atop mine.

At least I would not spend my last night in Paris alone.

Comments are closed.