The French Girl

by Chris de Serres

It was snowing outside.  I decided I wanted to make her something special.  I bought some wrapping and ribbon.  I bought three small boxes.  I put one item in each box and stacked each box.  Then I connected the boxes by running a small rod through the center of each.  At the top of the rod was a handle.

It was my creation.

It was a few minute walk to my apartment.  The sidewalks hadn’t been cleared.  I stepped gingerly into a foot of snow.  The snow was falling down faster now.  The cars in the road were ejecting black sludge onto the path ahead of me.  So I decided to cut across someone’s lawn.  I could see vague shapes buried in snow.  Outdoor furniture.

My building was up ahead.  A pink food truck backed into one of the parking spots.  I could smell the tacos from here.  I headed to the truck.  There was a napkin dispenser on a table outside.  I reached over to grab a couple and there she was.  Her short hair framed a fine face.  Each cheek held a little pink.  Her jacket was one of those with the shoulder pads.  It partially obscurred a petite figure.  Our eyes locked.  She smiled and almost laughed.  I smiled and almost laughed.  She looked down in amusement at my gift.  I looked down.  It was completely wet and dangling pathetically off my handled rod.

I half raised my gift and said,”A gift for my mom.”

“It is nice.  I love the bow.”

I didn’t know much about her.  She lived a few doors down.  She was an artist.  She probably took pity on my little art project.

Then unexpectedly she said,”There is an art show tonight.  Some of my pieces will be displayed.  You should come with me.”

Her face lit up for a moment.  I stammered a bit.  I had barely said a handful of words to her crossing through the hall.  The lights off the truck formed a halo around her face.

“Well, ya, why not.”

We looked at each other.  Her face felt so familiar in that moment.  Like we had both been in on some joke.

I didn’t move.  She didn’t move.  She smiled one more time at me.

I looked down the alley toward my apartment.  It looked so dark compared to where I was now standing.