Fiction by Samantha Memi
You can be sure of seeing me in Paris. Sitting in a bar as far away as possible from a noisy machine which takes money from those foolish enough to gamble. I would be drinking coffee, or cognac, or both. As you entered I would look up, and, catching your eye, quickly look away; yet, intrigued by your beauty, as your eyes turned elsewhere, I would catch a fleeting glance of your profile as I, nervous of your catching me watching you, made out as if to glance around the bar, perhaps to check if a friend were there. You would want to invite me to a drink but would be nervous about introducing yourself. If it was raining and the bar was full you could push through to my table and with a nonchalant, 'Excuse me, is this chair free?' ingratiate yourself into my domain. It wouldn't be difficult; my mouth would dry with fear with you so close, but I would be able to utter, "Certainly, certainly. Have you just escaped the rain?" And wonder, Is that a stupid question to ask? till you answer. "It would seem so, it had just started as I came in." And I would think, Did it start before you came in, or had you entered before any rain fell.
You would sip your beer. "It's very crowded in here. Is it always like this?"
"Often yes, especially on Saturdays. Because it’s popular the beer moves fast and because the beer's fresh it's popular." And I'd smile as you gripped you beer and I’d inquire, "Where are you from?"
"Not far, just over there (or wherever you are from) and you?"
"Me? I'm from round here. Haven't been here always. Went away for a bit. Then came back. It'd changed. Couldn't recognise it. Thought I'd be going back to where I'd been before and instead I went somewhere new that I thought I knew."
You'd ask, "Did you know —?" and "Do you remember —?" and I'd answer Yes or No depending, and you'd tell me about your life. You would have been a model for Paris Match and then, in Italy, an actor with Antonioni and at the moment you are an architect in Lisbon. You tell me of meeting Nico in Munich and of how her dark luscious voice seduced you to her bed and, as she squeezed your ears with her thighs she told you white lies about being in love with a guitarist who loved anal sex lubricated by blood, and you half wink thinking I would be shocked but I only smile and say, "Rather unhealthy in this day and age," and immediately think, What a stupid thing to say, in this day and age, but once it's said it's too late and, to cover my faux pas I say, "The best lubricant for me I always find is love sweet love."
"Oh, I quite agree."
After a few more drinks I invite you to mine. It is early morning as we walk home. It has stopped raining. The birds are singing. In bed I remember your name. The church bells prevent the sleepy from finding solace in dreams. Children in the street scream and kick tin cans. Making love I gaze into your eyes and see an island drifting on a sea of blue and I want to be there, not alone but with you. Would you be able to live inside your iris and still see me looking at you. In the morning, after croissants, you leave.
When I phone the number you gave me all I hear is a recorded voice saying, "This number is unobtainable."
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Samantha Memi lives in London, usually.