First part of Chapter Twenty Four.
I had twenty pages of fictional story I invented in front of me, and no coffee to ponder over it like a respectable writer. As it was getting brighter outside, my reflection in the computer screen started to form slowly, and that’s when I saw that I still have the towel on my head. Oh my God, I’m going to be Marge Simpson when I take it off. I went to see a mirror. It was worse. I couldn’t even comb that, dreadlocks emerged. And the makeup… I must have been rubbing my eyes more than once.
I managed to collect the hair that may have gotten a life of its own and went to the kitchen to try and find some coffee, maybe stashed deep in some of the drawers for a rainy day, but with no luck. I started to get the familiar, nauseating feeling I had when I exhausted myself studying all night long in college. I’m going to sleep for two whole days, I thought. But not now. I figured it would be a good time to get coffee, outside.
I looked down. Somewhere in between the writing, the staring and the thinking, I had managed to put on bottom part pajamas. The shirt from last night was still on. Well, I’m not going to put on pants now! I was going to be homeless soon, anyway. And it was only for a few meters, to the newsstand, there was a coffee machine there as well.
So I threw my long, hooded and very adored coat on so I wouldn’t freeze in the chilly Paris morning, and went for the elevator, consciously remembering to get my key and my wallet. Realizing how proud not forgetting my keys and wallet made me, I felt pretty miserable a second later. People are proud of childbirth at this age, moron. Not that you would be, but still.
And that damned elevator. Fine. I’ll walk down.
And downstairs, another small, meaningless disappointment.
‘WHY doesn’t it work?’ I whined to the man hidden behind the millions of papers, as if telling me that the coffee machine doesn’t work was the end of the world.
‘I don’t know, mademoiselle,’ he said, impervious to my suffering.
‘Well, can’t you fix it?’
‘I can fix it, I just can’t fix it now, I called the service,’ he said.
‘Okay then, I will accept this fate,’ I told him. ‘Pack of Gauloises red, please.’
‘WHY?’ I whined at him again, loud enough for a random old woman to turn around.
I looked up. Going back upstairs (with the elevator broken), and putting on something more decent was so unattractive at that moment. Telling myself that my coat is long enough, and that my pajamas are gray enough and it isn’t too obvious that I just went out looking ridiculous, I made a few brave steps further. The universe is poking me with a stick, I thought. Going after me with a magnifying glass, thoughtful enough not to fry me, but giggling when I squirm. Occasionally, it would let me push a crumb, like the exhibit, or this story that it let me write, and than buuuuuurn, why don’t roam Paris a bit, in your pajamas. Who needs sleep.
There was a small café around the corner, one that I usually ignored often times, but those few times I didn’t, I had good coffee there. The smell of fresh pastry and chocolate whatever-it-was, reminded me how hungry I was, and with that, how conveniently I would get ulcer and faint if I had another espresso. They also had my cigarettes.
The interior was cuter than I remembered, and there were already people sitting on the tables, enjoying warm caffeinated drinks and reading books or papers. I don’t see any of you picked on by the universe, I thought.
God, I am hungry.
I was next in line.
‘Hello, what can I get you?’ The guy at the counter asked readily.
For the first time in years, I was going to change my order with something I avoided religiously. I was hungry, but the thought of eating something real made me sick, so I broke a vow.
‘Something espresso-based. And all the milk, cream and chocolate syrup you got. And Gauloises rouge.’
The man behind the counter smiled and went off to prepare my guilty pleasure. A few minutes later, he came back with a huge plastic cup with a lid, barely able to contain all the cream that fought to leak out of it.
‘And your straw,’ he said.
That was one heavy cup. I tasted it, and creamy goodness with just a hint of coffee went through me. Hungry as I was, this was God. I got out of the café and headed back home. Only, right as I was leaving, and passing by the tables that were just outside for the smoking, sidewalk and gray outdoor enthusiasts, I heard something that could only add to my proneness to fainting that morning.
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