I recently went to Bordeaux; a few days in France inspired this short story. I won’t post the entire story because a) it’s not finished and b) it is over 3000 words long already and it’s not even finished.
It is not my exact experience, but it is based on. I hope you enjoy the strange twist I have Bordeaux through the glimpse of my crazy writing.
It shouldn’t be real but it is. It should be fiction; a figment of one’s imagination, you might say. Places like these don’t sprout from roots in the ground, like overgrown vegetables and trees. So where did this beautiful, fabricated, yellow-with-sun town solidify from?
The wine-capital of the world was pressed under his fingertips as he evacuated the tram to the stop of his apartment; the sun was shining into his shaded eyes as he looked up at the sky, a blue sea of serenity bouncing down to earth. People. People everywhere, bustling and rustling to get on or off or on or off the vehicle, and he ended up getting kindly trapped between two foreigners with the same hairstyle as him and the same suitcase colour he exhibited. A black, rolling trunk the size of his legs trailed behind him like a lazy dog on an elongated lead. It felt like another person behind him, beside him, behind, beside, be – … people kept pushing his possessions around his body as if it were a cat wearing roller skates.
Victoire station, translated from French means victory. He thought this was fate, as he stepped out of the crowds and saw a special market full of tacky clothes for the young women of the modern day. However, English girls, he knew, would not be seen perished in the clothes sported in the fair. The victory was that he was in optimism in France, with wine at every corner and drunkards wafting around the square, taking advantage of the alcoholic world that he had just stepped in to.
A five-minute walk down the boulevard of strange looking shops and boulangeries, he approached his apartment. His feet were heavy and aching in every muscle in the body part, after a long journey to victory, but his smile didn’t vanish. Never fading, would he; the optimism would never freeze.
In the midst of the humidity masking his sun-creamed skin, he warmed up and up like a few millilitres of molten lava. His phone buzzed in the back pocket of his black jeans (which were a very foolish decision to wear in a knowingly warm country). While dragging his pet trunk, he heaved his phone into his hand and saw his apartment contact ringing him; he didn’t even know he had his phone number, which slightly scared his four-hundred degrees’ body out of his peripheral.
All that he wanted was to check in on him, all in English of course; this man was unable of learning an eighth of the words in the English dictionary, let alone being a bilingual brilliance. He replied to his French contact that he was about five minutes away, and that he should be expecting his presence shortly. Little did our frightened English boy of thirty-seven know that he would be welcomed by no one when he reached the strange neighbourhood the apartment sat in.
Number eight. Apartment number eight. An even number. A multiple of four. A factor of seventy-two. Eight plus two is ten. Eight divided by two is four. Eight minus two is six. Eight multiplied by two is sixteen…These are the thoughts that whizzed around his very British brain while consistently ringing the doorbell and banging the door with his palm. At one moment, he even shouted through the letterbox at a desperate hope of the Frenchman just having his earphones plugged into his head right by the door. No. Nothing that coincidental. Oh, sorry, he would have said with a French tinge in his voice, I am a metal head. Go Metallica! Nothing that coincidental.
Finally, the common sense arose to his mind to give the slacker a call. Despite the pure annoyance in his tone to himself, he was perfectly pleasant to the man he was positively maddened by. Great. He was a fraud. However, he was shocked by the apartment man’s ignorance to what the matter was. His name was one that he could not pronounce, notwithstanding wanting to be able to. It began with a B…he thinks, unless it had a silent F at the front or something bizarre like that. The peculiar-named man claimed that he thought they had arranged for him to call when he arrived to the apartment, and he would be five minutes from the phone call; excuses, excuses, and the impression he gave was not the best. That is putting it lightly.
He finally arrived without any indication of him being the owner. He waltzed up to the door, gave it a nudge with the left side of his body, tried to open the door (all without saying one word to his customer). In an abrupt fashion he dragged the key out of his pocket and said, bonjour, welcome to Bordeaux.
He gave the tour of the apartment, head-to-toe in description; you want more light? he would say, flick here! as if, just because of his English roots he doesn’t know what a light switch is. In his head, he sarcastically applauded the silly, late Frenchman for his patronisation. Bravo. Bravo.
Dropped the keys on the table, and off the Frenchman went, out of the door and never to be seen again. It was like a dream. He was not keen of being belittled by someone clearly younger than himself. The first thing to do was choose his bedroom, which was not going to be an easy task as, they were both the same. The same bed, same linen, same window…which was not a window, it did not open into the street, in fact it did not open at all. You could see the kitchen from high above, but that was all. He didn’t mind, however, the modernisation of the flat mesmerised him so, he didn’t want to complain. In fact, he was stunned by its beauty.
It was eight o’clock, evening, by this point, and he was starving. However, the supermarket was shut. Really. Really typical. Why is this happening to me? he was complaining, now. He was just irritated by the unfashionably late greeter. Food seemed an unknown concept to him, by this point, due to the lack of consumption he had been in since before his flight, seven hours prior to this moment.
He settled in a bedroom (the one opposite the floor-length mirror, so that he could see his beautiful morning face the next morning) and gave up on food. His stomach murmured like a child with an apple in their mouth. He simply did not care. I can eat first thing tomorrow, he assured himself, as his fatigued eyes crumbled into comatose, and the French terrain was under his body.
Dedicated to my Grandpa who is 80 on Sunday. Lots of love.