Published on August 20th, 2011 | by Yellow Magpie0
Ann’s Story: Chapter Fourteen ‘Paris’
On the flight to Paris Ann could hardly contain herself she was so excited. She had a suitcase full of new clothes and a packed itinerary. Thelma seemed to be looking forward to the holiday too and was, as always, charming and kind. She revealed on the plane she could speak French quite well and had been in France a number of times.
‘Of course you have’ thought Ann who was beginning to get fed up of learning about Thelma’s many talents.
On the plane she chatted away to Ann about this and that. Eventaully Ann asked her how her writing was going.
‘Oh fine, I haven’t really been concentrating much on it, what with trying to settle into the house, and get everything sorted.’ she said.
But Ann persisted in her questioning, ‘so what sort of stuff do you write about?’
‘Oh mostly about lifestyle, fashion and I have written a few short stories’.
Ann was about to ask her where she could read her stories, but before she had time, Thelma cut her off by asking, ‘Would you like something to eat? I’m starving’.
Ann was hungry as they had been up at daybreak, so she didn’t pursue the conversation any further. But her curiosity was even more aroused, and even though she had very little knowledge about the media or the publishing business, she knew enough to know there was no way Thelma could afford to live off what she would earn from writing a few articles.
As she sat beside her on the plane Ann took note of Thelma’s expensive leather handbag and the beautiful shoes. When she opened up her purse Ann noticed the number of credit cards inside including several gold cards.
Nevertheless, she was too energised to bother wondering about her any more. She was determined to enjoy herself as this could be the last holiday she would have in a while.
When they arrived at the Charles de Gaulle airport Thelma took charge and decided it would be better to get a taxi rather than taking a train or bus as it would be easier with the luggage they had brought.
Outside the airport terminal she approached a taxi driver, who quickly got out opened the boot of the car and put in their bags. Then flashing a stunning smile at the him, Thelma purred ‘Hotel Elite, s’il vous plaît‘. The effect of her smile seemed to turn the taxi driver into a blubbering fool for the entire journey.
As they drove through the streets of Paris towards their hotel, Ann thought it must be the most beautiful city in the world, with its elegant buildings, exquisite fountains and majestic statues.
When they arrived at the hotel Thelma checked them in speaking in fluent, French complete with perfect accent. Ann was green with envy at how accomplished she was.
Once they had settled into their respective rooms, they went down stairs to the hotel café to order tea and sandwiches. Outside the sun was beaming so they went to an outdoor area with its chairs, tables and large orange umbrellas.
‘This is the life,’ said Ann as she sat back and observed the throngs of people streaming by. It was easy to pick out the French women with their easy sense of style. Casual chic was how Ann described it to herself. And they all appeared to be thin, in fact, they were all around the same size as Ann. She took great delight in this as back in Crowley people were always telling her she was too thin now she quickly realized most of them were overweight.
‘Lets go for a meal tonight, somewhere posh’ suggested Thelma. Ann looked across the table at her very wealthy looking travelling companion. She hadn’t brought that much spending money with her and she planned on making it last by eating in budget restaurants. She was well aware that Paris was expensive and eating in a fancy restaurant like Thelma was proposing could take a sizeable chunk out of her money.
She decided to bite the bullet and tell her the truth to save any misunderstanding later on. But Thelma was not going to be easily put off, ‘Oh don’t worry the place I’m thinking of is not that expensive, I promise.’
Ann still wasn’t sure, she had planned on just eating at the hotel that night as they had paid for three evening meals during their five day stay and she wanted to relax afterwards and begin exploring the next day.
Thelma however, was insistent so that night instead of going to the hotel restaurant Ann found herself looking for something suitable to wear to go out. She decided on a turquoise dress with sequins on the straps and a pair of silver high heel sandals.
She looked in the mirror and thought she appeared pretty good. She rang Thelma’s room to see was she ready but the phone just rang out. ‘She must be in the shower,’ thought Ann looking at her watch. She waited for another fifteen minutes before ringing again, but still there was no reply.
She tried her mobile phone but once more there was no answer. After leaving a message, she decided to go down stairs to the lobby to wait for her. It was after seven o’clock and Thelma had made the reservation for half seven.
As she sat there looking around, she noticed people were beginning to go into the hotel restaurant for the evening meal. The aroma of food was making Ann ravenous and she would have given anything to go in and sit at a table to have a nice meal followed by a warm relaxing bath before going to bed. It had been a long day and she was tired.
Just then Thelma came in through the main doors of the hotel and was about to rush past her when Ann called her. ‘Oh so sorry Ann I was just catching up with some friends, just give me ten minutes to change,’ and with that she ran up stairs. Ann watched her race up the steps with her mouth open.
True to her word, Thelma breezed down the stairs ten minutes later looking fresh as a daisy in a white trouser suit smelling of lime and apple blossom.
‘Sorry Ann I got delayed.’
‘I didn’t know you knew people here,’ said Ann in a voice which she was only too aware had an edge to it.
‘Yes,’ said Thelma, ‘a few, we go way back. I invited some to join us tonight, you don’t mind do you?’
Ann was furious, how dare she invite people without consulting with her. ‘Who are they?’ asked Ann trying not to let Thelma see how angry she was.
‘Well there is Philippe, Michel, and Catherine, they are all French and you will love them, they are lovely.’
‘O God, three French people that’s all I need.’ thought Ann. what the heck will I talk to them about.
By the time they reached the restaurant Ann was in a foul mood and had barley spoken to Thelma the whole way there.
Inside the very bohemian looking restaurant Thelma’s three friends were already seated at a table drinking wine. Thelma introduced Ann and they greeted her with a kiss on each cheek.
Even though they did seem very nice Ann still felt out of her depth as they went from speaking French to English and back again. The three of them were in their thirties Ann surmised and they all looked quite eccentric in the way they were dressed. Philippe was an actor, Catherine a writer, and Michel didn’t appear to be doing anything in particular.
Ann began to realise she had very little in common with any of them including Thelma. She looked from one to the other and just felt boring, insignificant and uninteresting and longed for the night to be over.