by Glenn Gray
A dark-haired mustached man drives us in his cab from Charles De Gualle airport. He stabs his finger toward the Sacre Coeur in Montmarte from the highway. Our French is horrible. He nods his head at the Gare St Lazare and Boulevard Haussmann, slowly pronouncing the names as we drive by.
We continue down Boulevard Malesherbes, then Avenue De L'Opre, stopping on Place Andre Malreaux in front of the Hotel Du Louvre. We gather our bags, pay the driver and step onto cobblestone.
Early morning sun rays flood the hotel lobby; light scatters off an ornamental mirror, shoots in all directions. Footsteps patter the marble floor, and out front, autos slash by in all directions, horns chirping.
We are told that our room is not ready because we are early.
Sabrina says, stepping away from the desk. "Shall we get espresso then?"
"Don't think I want it yet," I say. "Head's buzzing. I'm dehydrated."
We fall into the lobby furniture by the window. Several minutes pass.
"Don't want to sit here the whole time." She adjusts herself in the oversized leather chair. "I'd like to keep moving."
"A minute maybe?" The overnight flight from New York is starting to wear at me. "I kind of like it. Sitting and watching. Taking it all in."
Sabrina sighs, looks around. "I don't believe this little trip will fix it."
She stares out the window. There's a metro stop across the street. People hurry down the concrete steps, clutching newspapers, handbags. Outside a café, a serious-faced waiter in a white apron drags round tables to the sidewalk.
"Not this time."
I watch Sabrina. The eyes I fell in love with now older, new grooves spreading from the corners like shattered glass. Grey streaks paint her hair. But still beautiful.
"Maybe. Maybe not," I say. "You said you wanted to try."
"It doesn't seem like you're trying."
"The heck does that mean? I'm here, no?"
"Being here doesn't mean crap." She's still staring out the window. "Anyone can be… here."
"I want this to work."
"We'll see then," she says.
"Yes. We'll see."
After a minute, Sabrina turns toward me, suddenly upright in her posture, eyes narrow. "It kills me to know you stayed at this very hotel with your wife."
I wait a long moment before answering. "It was years ago."
She twists back to the window, back rigid.
We sit in silence for twenty minutes.
Finally, a hotel clerk ambles over, smiles. "Monsieur, your room is ready."
Glenn Gray's stories have appeared in Word Riot, Pequin, Underground Voices, Cherry Bleeds, Muzzle Flash, Thuglit, Out Of The Gutter, Powder Burn Flash, Bewildering Stories and others. He lives in New York. Contact Glenn.