It was another sunny day in Paris and I can’t believe how stupid I am for spending the whole day under the sun for nothing. I cried walking down Rue Malar, feeling so stupid and helpless. I wanted to call Shannon but embarrassment and fear of judgment have stopped me to do so.
My burning cheeks sting a little when the tears pour out on them. I try to control my emotion but it doesn’t seem to work at all until I see my face on the mirror at Jeremy’s bathroom.
I look normal. That gives me a mood elevation all of sudden. I look perfectly normal with the burning cheeks. No more pale sickly white Asian girl, the girl I see in front of me look healthy with the blushing cheeks and tanned skin. The visual illusion created by the UV has turned my day upside down from the desperate embarrassment of an adult stupidity to a temporary ecstasy.
The irony can’t be funnier than this, that I have hoped for an easy way to die for the last five years and when I’m finally dying, I want to be healthy so bad. I want to meet this guy named Ben so bad that I have created hundreds of different scenarios in my mind of what to say to him when I finally met him. The longing of meeting this sincere twelve years old boy who gave me chocolate has given me passion to live. I wouldn’t think about any of these craps a month ago.
So I go to the bathroom, taking a nice cool shower and my feeling has become calmer. I give Shannon another call and she picks up on the second ring, “Ellie! Sorry I was busy the whole day. What’s going on?”
“I’m going to London tomorrow. Should I book the train ticket or I just go ahead to Nord?” I ask her.
“You haven’t bought the ticket?!” She shouts at me.
“Yes! If you buy today, it will be freaking 300 Euros!”
“You did that, remember?”
“I have special pass because John’s brother works in Eurostar. I never purchase my tickets.”
“You come here then!”
“Can’t do, Ellie. John’s not free for babysitting Alison.”
“Then 300 Euros it is.” I say, then Shannon screams horray and promises me for a full treat of my meal. I borrow Jeremy’s sophisticated desktop computer and browse for the ticket.
“It’s 288 Euros, Shan. And I’ll be arriving on 12:30. Pick me up?”
“Of course!” She screams again. Shannon asks me again whether I have the visa to visit UK and I said yes. I did apply both UK visa and Schengen visa together when I was still in Singapore. Maybe the plan to visit Shannon has been in the back of my mind since then.
After confirming the time and place of meeting her, I hang up the phone. I didn’t tell Shannon what I did today, how I burned my cheek and why I felt miserable on the way home.
I come to the balcony and gaze through the skyline. The sun has just set and so is my expectation for seeing Ben. I tried everything I could in my capability to meet him but maybe this will forever be my non-sense dramatic hope, that somehow Ben holds the answer of the empty pages of my mom’s journal. It’s all just my stupid cancery hormone playing tricks on me because I am weak physically and mentally. I think back about what I did today and chuckle myself that the whole day was a plain stupid hormonal act.
After finished my laundry this morning, I went out to Eiffel tower and I was waiting there the whole time, under the sun, because I thought I could meet him there. I walked around the Eiffel tower, refreshing my eyes from the sun with the soft pretty pink trees around the tower, and hoping somehow I would bump into him. I remembered he mentioned that he’s dying to see Eiffel so bad and according to his facebook wall, he would fly back to Jakarta in three days, so maybe, just maybe he visited Eiffel by then.
I remembered I didn’t put any sun block on my skin expect my face when the redness started to appear all over my skin so I walked to the nearest brasserie called Ribe that had a safari animal theme inside and I sat down there for a cup of hot chocolate then went back to wander around the Eiffel tower again. That was when my face got the sunburn because apparently the commercial of my sunblock skin care told lies about the 12 hour protection.
When the reality of burning skin physically hurt me, I finally realized I was doing the stupid thing. So I stopped. I stopped being stupid, stopped giving my skin rashes, and stopped having expectations. Adding the pathetic fact of me living with no hopes and expectations, I cried on the way home.
A subtle smile appears on my face when I think back of what happened today. It’s really funny if I look back now. If there was a hidden camera following me around today, I would probably laugh seeing the reality show. Where did I get the energy and the hope for walking around the whole afternoon? I must had been possessed or something. But hey, they said people do stupid thing out of love.
What? Now I mention about love? I really must sleep now.
Eiffel tower seems different somehow now. It stands grand in front of me, like mocking me of how weak I am. I tilt my head, noticing of some rust below this amazing tower and feel like to mock her back. But I don’t. Because I know people will still loves Eiffel with rusts all over it. That’s the unconditional love, while I don’t even have one single person loving me, not even my own self. So I guess I don’t have the capacity to mock.
I am here to make peace anyway and to let go the expectation of meeting Ben. I will leave for London in two hours. I just need to see Eiffel one more time, saying goodbye. I feel embarrassed for the thing I did yesterday so I want to tell Eiffel that I am okay now. She’s probably worried about me.
I chuckle a little and turn my body, about to leave to Gare du Nord. That is when I see him.
Him, a guy who constantly fills my mind for the past week, is standing before me, looking directly into my eyes and smiles.
“Hey there! My friend, over there, in the stripped brownish red shirt, thinks you’re cute.” He points to the guy that waves his hand to me.
I am petrified instantly and Ben is still standing in front of me, showing off his pretty white teeth. For a second I feel the world around me freezes and the time stops. I command my mouth to say something but my tongue is like swollen; it is as frozen as my brain.
“Sorry to scare you. I’m just a messenger.” He then smiles again, wait for me to say something, but not even one word coming out from my mouth. He nods a little and leaves me hanging there, staring at his back.
Eloise, say something!
“Hey, I think you’re cute.” I shout. What the hell was that?
He laughs and shouts to his friend, “Sorry, Ray! She said I’m cute!” His friend whom he called Ray made a gun out of his fingers and pretends to shot his head.
Ben then walks closer to me; throws me that smile again, “for the record, I think you’re cute too.”
“Thank you.” I smile back at him.
“I’m Ben.” He offers me his hand, I shake it. I know your name.
“Ellie,” I reply.
“So, you’re visiting?” He asks.
“Visiting who? Oh! You mean Paris. Um, no. I live here. Just moved here actually.” I blabber and I don’t know why I say that.
“Wow, cool! Living in Paris?! It’s like a dream come true! Why did you move to Paris?”
“Um, looking for inspiration?” I answer, even though it sounds like another question being asked.
“Inspiration, huh? Jim Morrison’s kind of inspiration or Van Gogh’s kind of inspiration?”
I laugh, “well, doesn’t matter. They both died tragically.”
“Yeah, but they lived their lives, didn’t they?” Ben tilts his head so that his head covers the sun behind him. It creates a perfect ray of light around him.
“I don’t know so much about Jim Morrison, not a big fan of hard rock. I’m more of a pop rock kind of girl.” I answer.
“No way! Me too!” Ben shrieks.
“Now you’re trying to impress me by screaming like them.”
Ben laughs. He has great teeth, god, I can’t stop staring at his teeth.
“Favorite version of Barry’s falsetto scream?” He asks.
“Totally Staying alive! You?”
“Saturday night fever has definitely more shrieking!”
“Ah, come on! Nothing can defeat Staying Alive!”
“I don’t know, everytime I hear Staying Alive, it feels like seeing Barry sliding onto the screen with nothing but his socks and shirt. No pants!”
Then we laugh while Ben is trying to show me his version of Staying Alive dancing. He looks right through my eyes and says, “you seem very familiar, Ellie. I was talking to you like I’ve known you forever.”
“BEN!” A group of people call him from a far. “Are you going?!”
Ben waves his hand and shows them a hold sign. “Um, listen, I have to go.”
“Okay.” I try my best not to look disappointed. “Nice to meet you, Ben.”
He’s just standing there, staring at me. His eyes look deep into mine as if going to eat me alive and I’m there, just waiting to be eaten alive, voluntarily.
“I have to catch a train to London anyway.” I’m breaking up the silence.
“You’re going to London?” He looks disappointed too. “When will you be coming back?”
“Um, I don’t know. Monday?”
“I went back to Indonesia on Monday morning…” Ben mumbles.
“BEN!” His friends shout his name again.
Ben suddenly grins, as if he just committed a crime; a good crime that’s worth any sentence. “Wait here.” He tells me and runs to his friends.
I don’t know what I’m feeling but I am so happy talking to him and I don’t want this to end. I just want to keep talking and talking and talking with him and seeing him laugh and showing off his great teeth.
He runs back to me again, bringing a camera and takes my picture. I’m shocked and probably looked terrible on the photo and he says, “Can you blow off your London trip?”
“What?!” I ask, more like surprised. I can’t believe he just asked me to blow off my 300 Euros ticket.
“Yeah, blow it off! Just like I blew off another meeting with my boss. I’d probably get fired but hey, what the hell. It’s Paris, right?”
I smile so wide, you know that kind of deep smile that literally hurts my cheeks’ muscles. “And do what?” I ask.
“I don’t know, anything! It’s Paris! Nothing could go wrong! Do something crazy perhaps?” Ben smiles the kind of smile that probably also hurts like mine but he, himself looks surprised and happy. I can’t describe what exactly his feelings are because the Eiffel Tower in the background really distracts me. Eiffel looks less rusty and friendlier to me as if saying that I was wrong. I was wrong for mocking her.
“Something crazy, huh? So you’re the one who’s into the Van Gogh’s kind of inspiration?!” I joke.
“There won’t be a cut-off-ear incident though. But I can’t promise there would be no falling.” He smiles at me, with the Eiffel Tower in the background. This is perfect.
“Let me just text a friend of mine.” I tell him while taking out my phone from my backpack. Shannon, I cancelled the ticket. I’ll call you later. Nothing bad happens, ok, even though some falling might be involved. Don’t worry. This is the opposite of bad!