Pocket Change for a Rose
Against the side of the church, in the shadow of this old building hidden from passersby, he continued kissing me.*
“Ça va ?”
I liked the gentlemanly way he kept checking to see that I was OK. Though I repeatedly said “oui,” truthfully, I don’t know if I was; I let go of my worries and hoped regret wouldn’t find me in the morning.
He reached for the button holding my jean shorts on and my lace top tucked in. * We managed a few more kisses before his cell phone rang. It was his friend who was still at the bar with the group of Americans I went out with, including Kayla. They were all wondering where he and I had run off to and when French James Dean hung up, with an almost sad look on his face, he asked if I wanted to go back. Wine wearing off and reality catching up with me, I decided that we should.
He checked to make sure I was all put together, buttons buttoned and hair straightened out , before he took my hand and lead me back to Place des Lices. On our way there, we ran into a vendor selling roses; he looked both tired and desperate, but still managed to keep a smile on his worn face. He spoke very quickly and with a foreign accent I couldn’t understand, but I knew he was trying to convince French James Dean to buy “la jolie fille” a rose.
From the bottom of his pockets, French James Dean pulled out a few coins. He didn’t have enough to cover the cost of a rose and I could see a look of embarrassment quickly spread across his face. The vendor, fully understanding the world of poverty, must have felt for him. He accepted the coins from French James Dean’s hand and motioned for me to pick a rose. There were plenty of colors to choose from but each was slightly wilted from a day on the streets. The nicest looking one left had a strong, dark green stem and petals of red and yellow.
“Merci beaucoup,” I uttered, then took the rose in my right hand and linked my left arm with French James Dean’s as we weaved through the empty, cobblestone streets to find our friends.
*parts of this chapter were omitted from this online version