Pardon me, while I forget your passion.
My first thought when I saw him that afternoon after the rain stopped. Three straight days of rain was the perfect ending to my vacation. Paris was colder than usual for early spring and I was suddenly homesick for Marseilles.
A week ago we had met. “I’m sorry, I seem to have taken the last table.” The café was crowded then as it was today.
“No problem,” I said. My heart sped up when he smiled and I looked into his soft brown eyes.
“I was actually only waiting for the rain to end.” I clutched my umbrella a bit too tightly at the fib. It had rained that day, too.
“Oh, but I can make room at this table if you don’t mind sitting next to me.”
I was suddenly unable to move, my brain giving me all kinds of mixed signals. Run. Stay. Sit down. Politely decline … and run!
I sat down when he made room and he smiled in a way that made me believe he could read my every thought.
“Forgive my rudeness, I haven’t introduced myself. I’m Jean-François.”
“Eliane,” I said, almost in a whisper.
We didn’t make love that day. Not that I wasn’t willing, even eager, and I sensed his amusement over my ‘exquisite torment’ as he put it. When we did make love it was in his elegant apartment overlooking Rue de la Paix.
We had hardly finished our wine when he kissed me. My legs nearly gave way as his arms encircled my waist and he pulled me closer. Parting my lips, I allowed his tongue to find mine. He deepened the kiss and lifted me in his arms, carrying me to his bedroom.
He put me down and hooked his fingers over the waistband of my jeans, pulling me to his bed. Undoing the zipper he slid them down until I could step out, and in a moment I was in his bed.
I found myself helping him out of his pants as he took off his shirt then grasped my wrists. My arms stretched above my head on his pillow, he kissed me passionately, exploring the length of my body with his hands. I arched my back at his touch. His fingers were between my thighs lightly caressing my wet folds. He pulled me to him then, knowing I was close. He entered me confidently, thrusting relentlessly, endlessly, until we both came.
“You’re beautiful,” he said, and took me into the waiting bath.
“When did you have time for this?” I said. He smiled and kissed me.
We made love again and again, and I tried to forget that I had to leave Paris and return home.
A week later I was trying to forget him. His brown eyes and attractive smile. His passionate embrace. His deceit.
Perhaps I should have guessed he was married. Perhaps I did guess it and blotted out the thought.
I was equally to blame but I couldn’t feel the guilt I should have felt.
It drizzled and you held me closer
As we walked across Pont Neuf
As we had so many times before
As we had the night we met
It was fitting that we say ‘Adieu’
On the spot where we fell in love
A moonless night where clouds sheltered lovers
Who kissed in the gentle rain
While we could only weep,
Was a strained note
A tortured melody
We huddled close
Not speaking the words
We’d rehearsed a thousand times
“Inevitable” was what always came to mind before anything else
We stopped mid-way looking at the landscape
Seeing only broken dreams
Places we’d been
Reminders of days and nights together
That night on Pont des Arts
Where like other lovers
We’d left a lock and threw the key into the Seine
Even then as we kissed we knew
More bridges than those across the river
Each greater than the one before
We said it didn’t matter
That we could overcome any bridge
But in the end we knew
It was inevitable
I found an old letter in a box
The kind of letter nobody writes anymore
It had been opened and neatly replaced in its envelope
Written in lovely script
A love letter to an American woman from her former lover in France
“Tu me manque,” the letter said.
I miss you.
My grandmother had never spoken of this man to me
But I know she hadn’t forgotten him
His picture lay next to the letter
He was young and handsome
Whom I hadn’t thought about in years
We had said Adieu on Pont Neuf that night
While other lovers kissed, we cried
With quiet, unshed tears
And now those almost forgotten memories
Have been revived
By an old letter that I’d found
In a box