Like the good former Girl Scout she was, she made sure all of her friends got on their appropriate trains back to their balconied hotel rooms. She casually strolled the corridor that would lead to her designated train- the one that would take her from the twinkly Eiffel Tower to another stop she couldn’t pronounce where she would transfer to another train which would shuttle her to the Montmartre where she would quietly sneak into the shared room of her hostel and dream of remaining in Paris indefinitely between the snores of her top bunk Swedish roommate.
She inspected the billboards in the tunnel, their funny French faces and phrases and the overwhelming deliciousness of getting to invent what combinations of letters might mean.
Arriving at her stop, she saw her train- solid and dark. She peered inside to empty seats where street musicians had so recently been conducting a traveling concert for cramped commuters and wide-eyed tourists. An older man spoke to her in French one word which could only mean ‘closed’.
Hmm, she thought. She wound her way out of the underground maze and puzzled over a bus map. A young man, her own age, asked in broken English if he could help. She explained she’d missed her subway, and he tried to help her plan a route. As they waited together for the bus, he asked if she might want some whiskey, and she found that she did, so the two passed his flask back and forth and marveled over the city’s lights.
When the bus approached, she thanked the man who had helped her, but told him that she was planning to walk.
“It’s quite a long way,” he warned. “It will take a long time.”
“That’s ok,” she replied. “This is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen, and it would be a privilege to spend the whole night walking through it.”
“Have you cab fare?” he asked. “I can give you Euros.”
Touched by his offer, she gave him a fleeting hug. “Thank you,” she said. “I have enough.”
“Be careful, Mademoiselle,” he said boarding the bus.
They watched each other- he through the elevated window, her from the bus shelter on the corner of the street. Then, he was gone, and she proceeded.