Michela Walters’s Picture Choice: One
Title: Life Whizzing By
Sunflowers speed past my window as the train carries me south. Far away from the hustle and bustle of Paris and into my quiet secluded summer home on Ile de Rey. It’s a tranquil respite, away from the humdrum of my everyday life managing one of the biggest couture houses in Europe. For the month of August, I leave everything behind in search of the peace and rejuvenation that only a bike ride through the salt flats can give me.
The briny air fills my lungs as I pump my pedals faster, in a rush to get to my favorite beach, a place where I know I’ll run into him again. He comes on vacation the same time I do, and from his accent, I can tell he’s also an expat like myself. Except I haven’t managed to speak to him, ever. We exchange shy smiles as we pass or a quick “bonjour,” as we exit the patisserie in town.
The surf is still low, enhancing its beautiful pristine coast, dotted with sunbathers already here to enjoy the spectacular weather. I walk slowly along the waters edge, pretending I’m not seeking him out, hoping for a simple glimpse of his dark wavy chest hair accentuating the muscular torso I spend the entire year dreaming about. Distracted, I don’t see the wave that swamps my legs, taking my beach bag with it. Scrambling towards my belongings, I’m shocked when it’s scooped up by none other than my fantastical knight in shining armor. He’s let his hair grow out since last year, it’s a bit shaggy and hangs in waves over his forehead. “Merci,” I reply, taking my soggy bag from his grasp.
He timidly nods, handing the bag to me as if it was something precious.
I swallow thickly, willing my courage to not fail me now. “Thanks for saving my bag. Although I guess I’m not going to get much reading done,” I pull my drenched book out, watching the drops of water sink into the sand.
“You’re American?” he exclaims, a face splitting grin appearing magically on his rugged face.
It wasn’t until that moment I realized in my nervousness I’d spoken in my native language instead of French. “New Yorker, born and bred.”
He ushers me towards a blue and white striped umbrella. We talk for hours, enjoying the balmy day and a chance to speak English freely. We’re shocked to discover we live only a block away here on the island, but while we’ve never seen each other in Paris, our apartments are across the street from each other.
“I’m a bit peckish, would you join me for an early repast, maybe some wine?”
Tom grumbles to himself at how selfish he’s been, keeping me from having lunch, the main meal served in France. “I’d love to. My friend owns a boulangerie on the other side of the salt flats. Did you ride here?”
We spend the rest of the month together, learning about one another and the surprising crush we’ve each equally held for the other since I bought a house here three years ago. He’s shockingly single and I take advantage of it to the fullest. Our last day on the island is spent packing up our respective houses for the coming winter before setting in on the train rushing past the sunflowers and headed for home. I can’t hold in the smile bursting across my lips. For this summer is the first time I don’t dread going back to Paris. I have a new reason to appreciate my apartment -- its proximity to Mon Amour.
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Michela Walters is a wife, mother and book enthusiast. She is currently attempting her hand at writing her first romantic fiction novella. You can read her other stories on her blog: michelawalters.wordpress.com