“Avez-vous fini Madame?” I asked her, again. This was her third café latte in two hours. I knew not who she was waiting for, but every minute or so she would still glance at the silver Dior watch coiled around her slender wrist. Or when a young, handsome man strode past, she would study his features and compare them to the picture on her rose-gold phone.
“Oui, merci,” she turned away from the window and smiled at me, but it never quite reached her longing, hopeful eyes. I picked up the tall, lean glass; the residue of the foam clung to the rim like the wisps of the cumulus clouds outside. It was a beautiful day, no different from any other, and the streets were bursting with Parisian life.
Businessmen strode briskly down the cobbled streets weaving in and out of the crowds, whilst elegant women sashayed in striped dresses with their designer sunglasses and floppy hats that reminded me of lopsided pavlovas. Couples cycled past with their vintage bicycles and wicker baskets full of purchases, whereas young children with wild imaginations threw away their money foolishly into the nearby fountain.
Yet she didn’t feel the buzz. Instead she sat there still, emotionless looking onto the scene as if finding any possible way to criticise it.
Carefully, I backed away from the corner table and hurried into the back of the café for wash up duty. The others hate wash up, but I love it, because when I unhook the clattering shutters and push the rusty windows wide open, it reveals the only view I yearn to gaze upon for hours on end.
My beacon of hope, La Tour Eiffel.
At this moment in time, the sun was just beginning to set. Pastel orange and yellow hues painted the sky, whilst toasted marshmallow clouds hung from the sky like paper cranes, but there, amidst the pastiche, she stood proud. Intricate metalwork weaved in and out, up and up until the very precipice met the skyline. I stood there admiring the view, whilst scrubbing a few of the mugs in between, and once my hands were calloused and wrinkled, my shift was already half an hour over. The time had really flown and the counter would be closing up soon, which left me wondering about the mysterious woman. Had she left yet? Did the man she was waiting for turn up?
I removed my apron and rushed into the main dining area, rather excited and curious to see whether she was still there.
But nobody was there.
Well that’s what I thought before I stepped in front of the counter. Bloodied corpses lay all over the floor, bullets scattered everywhere and shards of glass from the shattered windows spread around the room. Frozen with terror I didn’t scream for help or call for the police, instead I walked over to the corner table. She lay there still, emotionless, dead.
Dead like my hearing. I sat down, crying, in the deafening silence.