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By Mauro C. Souza

THE WAITING 

“Wake up sleepy head . . . it’s time for your medicine,” said the voice inside of me. I did not want to wake up from the dream. It seemed the middle of the night, but actually, it was past 10 am. The dark, heavy curtains made the room pitch black. I silently got out of bed, opened the curtains a little wider, and lay in bed again, quietly thinking. I felt relieved to be alone finally in the bright room. I had never felt so tired before. Last night, I fell into a fitful

sleep around 3 am. I was dreaming of her repeating the strange little things again and again to me. Her face was beautiful and delicate. Her eyes were a deep blue, her hair dark and long with smooth waves. I had been there awaiting her arrival for a long time, and I had watched her coming up the long winding way to banks of the Seine. When she approached, I met her and held her in my arms for a long time.

 

After protesting, I went to the library wrapped in a blanket and spent the rest of the morning reading. When it was time for lunch, I went to the kitchen, got an apple, went to my room and got my notebook, went back to the living room, and continued reading between bites of the apple. In the afternoon, as usual, I prepared to go to the café bistro in Saint-Germain des Prés.

 

It's two-thirty in the afternoon. I'm at Café Les Deux Magots, eating a mixed sandwich: ham, Comté cheese, and everything looks normal. This place played an essential role in the cultural life of Paris. I picked up a newspaper and sat comfortably on the sunny terrace while imagining the days when Ernest Hemingway, Albert Camus, and Pablo Picasso regularly frequented this place. Both the manager and the waiters are always attentive. Still, I have a preference for Pierre, who approaches confidentially and says: "Comment allez-vous aujourd'hui monsieur?".

I've been sitting at this cafe table for quite a while now. I checked my emails more than once, looked at my social media, updated my apps, and read the latest news. There is nothing else my smartphone has to offer. I started looking around. In Paris, there is always something for everyone. You may not want to do anything more strenuous than sit in one of many outdoor cafés, watching people pass by, and absorb the city's unique atmosphere.

I have had a love affair with Paris ever since I arrived six years ago. I am sure you too will fall in love with this beautiful city of lights. I look around, and people are laughing and talking loud. A young couple looks happy, leaning close to each other. Maybe affection, or perhaps they are trying to hear each other. Either way, they seem like a romantic couple.

In the corner of the room, there is a short man with a flat cap sitting alone. He vouchsafes me a nod, a smile, that put me at home at once. Among of the few empty tables in the room, across the table from him, sipping absinthe between the puffs of a cigarette, is a skinny and handsome fellow, whose dark blue blazer and white undershirt tell-tale of elegance and refinement. His eyes are deep dived in the newspaper.

I give up scrutinizing my fellow patrons and sip my own drink, then sink into idleness, staring blankly at the door, waiting. I'm used to waiting; I've done many times before, and in a minute, she'll appear, shaking her hair back across her shoulders, flustered, apologetic, beautiful. She knows I'll forgive her. She knows that it will be her presence that matters, not what happened before, when I last saw her. When I see her, my heart will lift and expand. I imagine that I can, after all, in my dreams dream about her, about her body. Everything is just a whisper of my imagination and I am unmoved. Nothing else matters, only desire. The pain of waiting will dissipate in the desire to be together. Now, in the future, and forever, as long as it lasts.

The door opens, she enters, radiant, if a little nervous.  - “Here we are!" She said, very pleasantly, and with all the put-on manner of one who has made up her mind to be highly joyous under distinct difficulties. - “You are still here, then and alone." Her face is a mixture of constriction, expectation, and happiness. I wait for the compression on my heart to ease. Then I realize there is no constriction. My heart beats dully, even unhurried, while she gently hurries to sit by my side at the table.

She approaches, and I realize something worse than waiting for an hour for my lover to show. Worse than wondering if she loves me, if she has any respect for me, if I mean anything to her; worse even than my lover never turning up at all. Worse than all those things, I understand at this moment, as she bends over to kiss me, ready to be forgiven, that her presence no longer has the power to heal.

I wish that she had not come because now that she is here, sitting across from me, taking my hand, leaning in close to me, I am seized only by the numb, gray realization that I no longer care. My heart sinks. I wish I could go back to those moments of waiting before she arrived, when I was staring at the door like the short man with a flat cap, back to sipping my drink, observing the peoples' faces and waiting. I wish I could just keep waiting, waiting for someone who truly loves me.

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