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Published on August 27th, 2011 | by Yellow Magpie0
Ann’s Story: Chapter Fifteen ‘New Introductions’
Mercifully the evening with Thelma’s friends ended. Ann had found it pure torture trying to converse with people she didn’t know, with whom she had nothing in common.
They were all so cosmopolitan and so uber-confident that she had felt herself shrinking in their presence as her lack of life experience and social skills were magnified in her mind.
In the taxi on the way back to the hotel that night, Thelma sensed Ann’s down beat mood. ‘You’re very quiet Ann. You didn’t really enjoy the night did you?
‘No’ said Ann truthfully, ‘they seem quite pleasant and nice but I was like a fish out of water there tonight.’
‘You just need to get out more, that’s all’, said Thelma putting her arm around her shoulder.
Ann felt patronised by her words and the accompanying gesture but she said nothing.
The next morning the two women had a a late breakfast before heading out to see the sights. They hopped on a bus tour around the city which brought them to all the major tourist attractions.
The Sun was shining so they sat upstairs on the open top bus which took them to the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, the Arc de Triomphe and finally Notre de Dame Cathedral.
It was magical and exhilarating. Ann felt so happy and relaxed as she fell in love with the beauty and style of the city.
At lunchtime they decided to eat at one of the many outdoor cafes, Ann ordered a lemon and thyme chicken salad which was absolutely delicious while Thelma had a fresh fig salad with goats cheese.
While they were eating they enjoyed people-watching and commenting on what the women and men were wearing and how well groomed they all looked.
They sat there for over an hour and Ann was amazed that no one came to rush them. ‘This is the Parisian way of life. They enjoy taking time over their food,’ said Thelma.
After their lunch they got back onto the tour bus to explore more of the city. It was after 7 o’clock before they arrived back at the hotel and there was just enough time to have a quick shower before going into the restaurant for dinner.
Ann was so glad Thelma had agreed to eat at the hotel as she didnt’ think she could handle another night out with her friends. The meal was beautiful and quite filling.
‘How did you know so many people in Paris?’ Ann ventured.
‘Oh I travel quite a lot and have spent some time here, so over the years I have made a number of friends,’ she answered smiling.
Ann was about to ask her what countries she had been to when Thelma’s mobile phone rang.
‘Ah Bonjour Max. Comment vas-tu?’ Thelma said excitedly, obviously delighted to hear from Max, ‘who ever the hell he is.’ Ann thought to herself.
Ann didn’t understand the rest of the conversation as Thelma spoke entirely in French. She could only pick up the odd word which made no sense to her. Then Thelma made a nauseating kiss-kiss sound into the phone before signing off.
‘That was my very good friend Max, he has asked to join us for a drink later. You don’t mind do you?’ Thelma looked at Ann eagerly.
‘O God not another one’, thought Ann. She was getting fed up of all these strangers being introduced into, what was after all, her holiday too.
Ann didn’t answer her directly, instead she just said that she would head off to bed after dinner as it had been a long day.
‘It’s only 9 o’clock and you’re on holidays, Ann, and you might actually enjoy Max.’
Thelma was sounding impatient but Ann didn’t care she couldn’t possibly spend any more time with her friends, the previous evening had been miserable for her and she wasn’t anxious for a repeat performance.
They had just finished dessert when Max swanned in. Thelma spotted him and waved frantically like an excited school girl.
His appearance confirmed Ann’s suspicions that he was another arty-farty type. He had on a deep pink jacket, blue cravat, white trousers and on his feet were pink patent shoes. A large sparkling ring adorned the middle finger of his right hand.
He was tall and extremely thin. Ann reckoned he was in his late 40’s. He had short blond hair combed back off his face and he had a small gold stud in his ear. Ann wondered had he forgotten about the earring as everything else seemed to be matching and coordinated perfectly.
When he saw Thelma he sashayed over to their table and planted kisses on both her cheeks.
He pulled up a chair and looking into Thelma’s eyes he asked her in broken English, ‘Ow are you dahling?’
‘I have never been better Max. I am back living in Crowley and as happy and contented as I have ever been.’
‘I’m zo glad after all you av been through my poor dahling’ Max said kissing her again.
Ann realized it must have been Thelma’s breast cancer he was talking about and she felt ashamed she had never really asked her about it. She made a mental note to discuss it with her soon.
‘This is my friend Ann’ Thelma said introducing her to Max.
‘Enchanté’ he said kissing Ann on the hand. ‘Ow are you enjoying our beautiful city?’
‘I love it, you are so lucky to live here’, Ann replied.
‘Maybe you come and live with us,’ he said winking at Thelma.
Ann laughed and then decided it was time for her to make her exit. She said her goodbyes and went up stairs to her room glad to be on her own.
But it was, as Thelma had said, very early and the sun was still beaming in through her room windows. So she decided she would go for a stroll outside.
On her way back down stairs a glance into the restaurant told her that Thelma and Max were already gone. And as she walked through the front door of the hotel she was just in time to see Thelma and Max climb into a taxi and head off.
Ann wondered where she got her energy from. But she at least was glad to have a quiet night alone. She walked around the streets near the hotel and was delighted to see that many of the shops were still open.
She enjoyed browsing among all the knick-knacks and bought herself a pair of earrings, some fridge magnets and key rings for Alice and Julie who she thought she might meet for lunch when she got back home.
She spent about an hour wandering around before returning to her hotel. In the lobby she ordered a glass of wine and settled down in a comfortable couch. She began to wonder where Thelma had gone before concluding she must have gone to a night club or something. When she finished her wine she returned to her room where she showered and went to bed.