“I know it sounds crazy,” Marie said, enthusiasm spilling from her every pore. “You don’t understand how sure I am of this.”
Callie picked up Marie’s suitcase and tossed it into the open trunk of her car. “I know you. You’re just excited. You’ve just come back from France, having had a wonderful time, and now you’re filled with the romance of Paris, Fracais.” Marie winched as Callie spoke the final two words in a clearly atrocious faked French accent.
“You’re my best friend. I would think you would be supportive of this. It’s like the most important thing to ever happen in my life.”
Callie laughed, “I am supportive of you. Who else would come out to the airport at this time of night to pick you up? Strap in your seatbelt.”
Marie pulled the seatbelt over her and clicked it safely into place as Callie stepped on the gas.
“I am grateful to you for that. Truly, I am,” Marie said sincerely.
They sat in silence as Callie exited the arrivals area. “I just don’t see why you want to pick up and leave your home where all your friends and family are, to go live in a foreign country,” she finally said.
Marie plopped down on the couch next to Callie. “Whew,” she said, blowing out the air in her lungs at the end of the word.
They both watched the dust from her landing fly into the air and swirl in little curlicues around them.
Marie spoke first into the dust-filled silence. “Are you sure you don’t want this old couch,” she said, “It would look great in your apartment. Hint. Hint.”
“You couldn’t pay me to take it,” answered Callie. “So, you’re almost ready to go, huh?”
It had been two weeks since she returned from her vacation. The remaining belongings she had were boxed up and ready to ship. All she had to do was finalize her destination details, firm up her travel and shipping plans, and find a new home for the couch. “Pretty close, I’d say,” said Marie, “I’m so excited.”
“I still can’t believe that you are leaving your home, family, friends, career, and entire life behind on some whim you got while on vacation. Why do you have to move so far away?”
Marie sighed. “You don’t understand,” she said as she clutched a fist to her heart, “I feel it in here.”
Marie rolled her eyes at Callie’s attempt at a joke. “No, I’m serious. Haven’t you ever felt something so strongly that you knew it was your destiny?”
“Well,” Marie continued, “It wasn’t just a feeling. I mean it was a strong feeling, but I also saw it in my mind’s eye. My future. A special man who would become my husband, whom I would love forever. We would go to wine tastings together, have cheese and bread picnics while discussing philosophy, and ultimately raise a French-speaking family.”
“Yeah, about that . . .” Callie said, “You don’t even know that much French. Do you? How are you going to be able to communicate well enough to live there?”
“Yes,” Marie said thoughtfully, “I spent three weeks there and I picked up a lot. I think once I immerse myself in a new life there, I will pick it up just fine.”
“What if there is an emergency? And you can’t tell someone because you don’t know the words, and they don’t speak English? You’ll be there all alone.”
Marie pursed her lips. “Okay, maybe I should learn a little more French before going?”
“Here,” Callie said, holding out a business card. “This place has a good reputation for teaching you enough of a foreign language to make you fluent enough to get started.”
“You really do have my back, don’t you?” Marie said, taking the card. Below the name were the words “Small Classes” and “Individual Instruction.” “Okay, I’ll look into it.”
“Destiny – humph. Maybe you get into one of those classes and you’ll see that your destiny is really here, not in France.”
Marie smiled and tapped the card against the thumb of her other hand, “Yeah, maybe,” she said sarcastically.
An overly zealous receptionist greeted Marie at the door when she arrived at the business address listed on the card. “Good morning, how may I be of assistance to you today?” she said in a distinctly southern American dialect.
Marie briefly wondered If she learned her accent here, or if it was real. She banished the thought, and its surrounding comical musings, as she reminded herself why she was here. “Yes, I have an appointment for a series of individual French lessons.”
“Why, yes,” the receptionist said. “Your instructor will be Mathéo, who just became free. I’ll show you to his room.”
Marie followed the woman down the corridor to one of the smaller rooms that lined the hall. She stood in the doorway. A handsome man with a sculpted five o’clock shadow and tightly-groomed mustache stood to greet her. Marie stood still, her mouth slightly open, trying not to stare at the man. A déjà vu type feeling swept over her keeping her entranced to his every move. It was him. The man in her mind’s eye vision. Right down to the very clothes he wore.
“C’est un plaisir de rencontrer une si belle femme,” Mathéo said as he motioned to her to come into the room.
She recognized enough of his greeting to know that he had paid her a compliment. She said, a bit slower than he spoke, “Vous êtes trop gentille” in her best French pronunciation, hoping she had gotten every word right.
“Ah, the beautiful lady knows some French,” he said smiling directly into her eyes. “We shall get along just fine.”
The receptionist said, “Then I’ll let you get to it,” and closed the door behind her.
“Oui,” Marie said, “I do.” Maybe Callie was right. Maybe it was a good thing she didn’t get rid of her old couch after all. “How do we start?”
Copyright 2023, Monica Nelson