Nothing happened to Do on that drowning day in March, nothing to write home about and nothing to hide behind an inexpressive mask or a change of dry clothes. Everything, however, promised greatness to happen in the near future, probably tomorrow. The culminating event of her life.
She’d seen it in the way the swollen river had flowed past her as she stood on the quay, or rather, how the Seine’s gray had rushed up toward her in a wave, embracing her, bathing her feet in loving immersion—greatness was coming.
She’d also seen it on the park bench where pigeons had flapped and circled above her head in such emphatic confusion, that she had failed to notice the lonely bee from the Luxembourg hives before it singled her out and delivered its suicide sting.
And why else would the universe have allowed her to stop dead on Impasse de l’Enfant Jésus and witlessly witness two thugs attack a young mother, push her against a wall, and threaten to hurt her small son with her blue umbrella if she, the mother, refused to hand over her handbag at once? The incident was over before outrage made Do intervene. She’s sure that if she’d glanced at a mirror right then, she wouldn’t have seen herself.
These are the signs of what is near: greatness, courage, the end. Tomorrow will be her last day in Paris. Her last day. Should she tell the manager of Hôtel Beauvoir? Does he deserve to know?
That night, the rain falls as though it means to fall forever. There’s no one else, nowhere else.
When Do awakens, rises from the bed, and opens the heavy curtains, the sun chases the darkness not only from the room. On hesitant legs she stands, feeling an unexpected caress of warmth on her skin. She drinks in the light. It’s impossible to predict how long it will last, this sense of being held, but it lasts long enough for the view from her window to unfurl like a future. The puddled streets near Port-Royal sparkle with pure possibility.
Claire Polders grew up in the Netherlands and currently lives in Paris. She’s the author of four novels in Dutch and co-author of one novel for younger readers (“A Whale in Paris,” Atheneum/Simon&Schuster, 2018). Since 2015, she writes in English.She’s also a web designer and connected as such to New Flash Fiction Review.