A Date with the City

It’s a lovely city and it has it all: parks and gardens, coffee shops, good restaurants…
Its streets are filled with the agitation shared by all vibrant and healthy cities…
The people living there are nice, cheerful even.

I know this because it’s been quite my favorite place for the last two months.
As I look at my reflection in the mirror, I fondly recall the memories of my walks in its streets, wandering around, finding a new restaurant and enjoying a pizza, stumbling by surprise upon acquaintances I’ve barely met and having a wonderful afternoon, filled with laughter and thoughts, discovering a new clothing shop, loaded with wonders…

This dress came from one of these shops. It’s absolutely gorgeous!
I smile happily and make funny poses, carefully adjusting the black silk belt on the soft white fabric, twisting it around myself to see the effect it might have.
It’s perfect. In every way. I expected it to be so.

I set myself an appointment, an arbitrary one: 2 p.m.
Just another way of pondering the importance of my rendezvous.
Today, I will show my true self to this favorite city.
Today, I’m gonna be the most beautiful sight its inhabitants have ever witnessed.

I take a peek at the clock in the living room and smile, excited. 10 minutes.

First, I’m gonna present myself and say hi.
Then I’ll take to the streets, making a very large avenue in its center, leading to my favorite places. (I could also get rid of these ugly buildings leaving their mark on the landscape then I’ll…)
Another peek at the clock leaves me impatient: 5 minutes.

At this moment, people must be going back to work, their bellies filled with all the food their town has to offer
Some may be grumping, some might be happy, attending this strange daily routine called work. Even after all my wanderings, I never quite got work, never quite understood while mortals got so involved into it.
Well, I’ll be the event shaking the course of their day.
They’ll probably won’t thank me, I’m guessing. Maybe… some very few might. Not the majority.
20% funny people for 80% boring ones, that’s my rule of thumb.

Dear me! The shoes! I hurry to my wardrobe and pick up the lovely sandals I bought in the very same town to match the dress. Hastily I tie the black ribbon straps that complement so well the pure white of my top…
A quick glance at the mirror. At the clock.

2 p.m.

At one moment, the main street was empty; at the next, there she was.
It took the population a good 20 seconds to fully process what was happening.

At first they saw two monstrous leather obstacles plant firmly upon the ground, and they heard the tarmac suddenly give way to something utterly massive, something that sunk a few feet deep into it.
Some clapped their hands to their ears when the shock wave struck, harming their eardrums, disorienting them.
In one sense, it seemed as though this thing had always been there: dumb, ridiculously long and tall.
People began to recognize the gargantuan rosy pillars before them, and they craned their necks, looking up, way up, following the shapely form, and…

That was when some people began to run in the opposite direction.
The others were transformed from the usual crowd of the workday into an awkward, religiously silent mass around her.

That is, until she took her first step.

Freshly teleported into the center of the town, I look down and take a few moments to muse at my city, viewed from this unusual angle.
I recognize the Ollie Avenue, where I’m standing right now; the little coffee shop I love so much, which I’m also standing on.
My size of 500 ft. always makes quite the entrance.

I marvel at all the vehicles and people clumsily trying to brake and change direction. A playful kick of my sandal sends them flying a mile away, instantly cleaning a good portion of the street. At this very instant, the whole town anxiously raises her gaze up to the massive appearance of a Goddess and wonders what it might mean. Some might even have recognized me.

I giggle gleefully and make a graceful pirouette, letting the delicate folds of my dress billow around.
My gaze embraces the whole town and a loving smile draws on my lips.
I want this to be casual and intimate.
After all, my town and I have known each other for quite some time, haven’t we?

Paris! I’ve saved up for this trip for years! Years of sneaking packets of jelly from the diner and living on rice and corn meal. Years of hanging out with friends in the library or waiting for movies to come to the discount theater. Years of scrimping and saving, clawing my way up to my financial goal. It was hard and lonely, but I did it: two weeks of Paris in a nice rental apartment—not an extravagant place north of the river, but nice enough for my humble needs.

I’m living the dream! I’m in the City of Lights!

I’m also exhausted, having flown well over a day to get here. I didn’t budget for a nice flight, which would’ve cut my time in half… but I’m here, I’m exhausted, I’m all unpacked in my apartment and… I should get a nap, but I don’t want to miss a minute of Paris. I’m only here for two weeks, I’ve got to soak it all in, as much as I can, before I head back to my dreary existence as a temp slut in corporate America. I’ve got to eat all the food, I’ve got to hear all the music, and… coffee. That’s what I need.

I saw Comptoir Tournon on the taxi ride here and it’s not far from my apartment, so I lock up my valuables, grab my travel notebook and a pen, check my passport, and let myself fall down the stairs into the street. Even a tumble like this seems more magical in Paris.

It’s a little after noon on a weekday, so the customers are very tidy in dress shirts and blazers. The women are, of course, elegant, and I’m supremely self-conscious of my rumpled travel shirt and jeans… well, too late now. Even my dress clothes wouldn’t be suitable until I get a chance to press them. I get a cappuccino, pull up a bentwood chair, and seat myself alone at my little table. My dainty coffee cup sits on a saucer beside my notebook, and the sun warms my hair and forearms, and I’m in Paris.

I’m in Paris! My regular world seems like a distant dream! Can I stay here forever?

I bought a new Moleskine notebook, designated my “travel notebook”. It’s completely empty and unused, of course, but I open the cover, smell the fresh pages, and shake out the stiffness in my hand to carefully write: “May 13, 2016—Cafe Tournon, Paris” at the top of the page. This is very exciting! I take a sip of cappuccino and close my eyes, smelling the street, feeling the sun, when it occurs to me today is Friday the 13th. That’s… trés amusant, I believe the expression is.

There’s a tremendous explosion, thunderous, impossibly loud. My eyes snap open and the porcelain cup is knocked out of my grasp. The business party at the next table has been knocked on their asses, they’re swearing and looking around. Car alarms are going off everywhere, a row of scooters across the street has toppled and sprawled. And ahead of me, at the end of the block, behind La Chaine Parlementaire-Senat, there is a column of dust, smoke, an explosion reaching up into the sky…

My first though, shamefully, is terrorists. My coworkers teased me about going to France, saying I needed to look out for—… well, they said horrible, bigoted things. I blew them off because they’re provincial Americans who know nothing of the world. They have no aspirations to travel and meet people from other cultures. I figured they were just jealous because I was going to Paris and they were going to a staff meeting at which they will probably announce the next round of layoffs.

But what could have done this? What happened to the Luxembourg Gardens? I try to ask people around me, but I don’t speak much French and they’re not speaking at all, just screaming and running north, scrambling up a lane of pale, cream-colored buildings that stretches off farther than I can see. Insanely, my mind remembers an anecdote about Napoleon, how he wanted the crooked streets straightened out so he could fire a cannon down them to dispel any uprisings. What a stupid thing to think of right now.

The dust begins to settle and I realize my back aches. I’ve fallen out of my chair (how did I not notice?) and am lying in front of a blue doorway. The awnings from the cafe and Librairie la Poussiere du Temps block my view of the sky above the Palais du Luxembourg, but something’s going on there. I get up, stretch my back, and wander into the street. The dust and smoke are settling, and somewhere above the screams and the traffic going crazy, I can hear a resonant grinding of the earth. I’ve never heard anything like this before, like something massive digging into the ground. And even farther away, very distantly, I hear giggling.

A woman is giggling with barely contained delight. Where is this coming from? It sounds like it’s being amplified over a PA system, but this just doesn’t make any sense. I hear buildings shattering, falling over and pummeling the ground in large shards of masonry, and I hear a woman sighing contentedly.

In a trance, I slowly walk toward Rue de Vaugirard, straining to see through the smoke and dust. Above the senate building, the haze has cleared enough to reveal a sandal.

Now I don’t hear anything and the pain in my back is gone. I don’t even feel the ground beneath my feet. Above the senate building I can make out a row of the tips of enormous, round toes, flexing once above the rooftop. My heart pounds once, hard.

An enormous, slender foot, crossed with black ribbons, runs up to a pale ankle, far overhead and bound in wide ribbons. The leg, massively wide and round, continues upward, pausing at the knee then swelling at the thigh, which disappears into a voluminous white skirt.

My heart is hammering in my chest. Around me, old women are staggering up the sidewalk, men in dress shirts are bleeding and shouting at each other, and I hear none of it. I don’t breathe, I don’t blink, and my heart is beating hard enough to shatter my ribs as my gaze runs up to see two tremendous thighs, impossibly far overhead, rubbing against each other in delight as the skirt flares and a goddess slowly turns north. To me. I’m north of her, and her massive body swings ponderously to face my direction.

My palms are sweating. Distantly I remember that I had a notebook, and I also recall the camera in my pocket, but I can’t move. I can only stare at a beautiful young woman who stretches up into the heavens, tossing back her hair and grinning as brightly as the sun.

I should run. Everyone is running. The cars, those that can still move, have all driven away, and all the people have fled their apartments and are surging north, behind me. But I’m standing in the middle of Rue de Tournon, staring up the skirt of a goddess as she casts her gaze about the landscape.

I take one step forward.

Many thanks to Giantess Tina for sharing her work! My writing in the fourth section is a response to the scene in her lovely prose.

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