Look into my crystal ball… if you dare. 😉 Here’s a slight change of pace. It’s another scene from PS, but this one happens long, long after Elyse, Brendon, Claire and all the rest of the characters in PS have graduated from Brown University. [Every other scene I’ve posted so far is from Book 1.]
I thought you might enjoy a momentary look into their future.
EXCERPT FROM: “PS, BOOK 5”
CH. x, “SUBTERRANEAN BLUES & PINKS”
There it was again.
The scent of roses permeated my skin, my mind, my soul like an anchor that wouldn’t let me pull away, but kept me sinking out on the ocean. I turned away from Claire, who was discussing our current travel plans with the ticket booth attendant, and told myself it was just some random fragrance wafting toward me from the women passing by. This was France after all — perfume capital of the world. I didn’t have to think too hard about it to realize that the simplest explanation was likely the real one… the sane one. And I couldn’t keep throwing meaning into random life events — no matter how much the fragrance reminded me of Brendon.
Move forward, Elyse. Keep moving forward.
I took a step forward as if the physical movement could keep my thoughts on track. A small group of high school-aged kids passed beside me speaking rapidly in their native French. They spun me around, back toward the direction of the rosy scent and, to my dismay, it had not yet dissipated. Instead, it had magnified.
Claire came up behind me with our métro tickets and nudged me though an open wrought iron gate. We headed toward a set of stairs that promised to lead us further down underground into the close, dimly lit space. I proceeded only at her prodding, all the while silently imploring the increasingly powerful rosy scent to stay away from me. But it continued, becoming even stronger, making my body weak.
Claire rushed in front of me, down the steps, toward the subway tracks not noticing as I became unbalanced and began to fall down them, one by one, moving slowly, carefully watching the movement of my feet ever more closely in an effort to secure my footing. It was becoming impossible to breathe as the air thickened around me, the floral scent weighing me down… making me feel heavy, lethargic. I gripped the railing for support, sweeping my hand along its smooth wooden surface until another hand stopped my progression.
In slow motion, I watched the fingers intertwine with mine and stared at them for several unintelligible moments. With great effort, I willed myself to look down at my feet to determine if they were still on the ground or if I was, in fact, floating in mid-air.
At first, all I saw were his shoes….
Without another thought, I gave in, willingly and instinctively inhaling his undeniable, unavoidable fragrance again. It whirled itself into my lungs, then spread around inside of me, emanating from my chest, stretching itself out into my limbs until it reached my fingers and toes, touching my entire being from the inside out. It circled inside my head making me dizzy, and forced any sense of control I thought I had out of my body.
A mix of longing and emotion surged forward, rocking me toward him. I drifted softly against his body, slowly looking up from his feet to his waist, skimming his hands where a familiar silver ring sat upon his thumb. I placed my own hands upon his hips. He moved closer, pulling me against him and my eyes trailed up the length of his arms, toward the subtle curve of his neck, into his intense ocean-blue eyes.
I sighed at once and fell against him dreamily, resting my head on his chest. He was strong and soft and warm. Comfortable. He dropped his head down against mine.
We’ve been here before. Almost.
Was this moment even real? Or was it just a memory of time we’d spent together back in school at Brown, when he had put his arms around me and held me for a lifetime within minutes. Now, once again, everything around us was disappearing, fading away as though we were trapped in a void of time and space.
I closed my eyes and lifted my head to press my cheek and forehead against his. I took another breath against his skin and sank into his arms feeling an unforgettable rush of heat exact its hypnotizing powers over me. As soon as I gave into it, the heady scent vanished, leaving me alone on the steps losing my balance, tripping over my feet, twirling around in search of the vision, the ghost-like physical appearance of Brendon. I challenged myself to make sense of the moment.
Brendon had actually been here. Hadn’t he?
Claire was still below me on the lower train platform, apparently unaware of anything that had just happened to me.
Was it all in my imagination? Am I losing my mind?
I stumbled around in a circle on the steps to view the subway entrance. A mass of passengers swept down the stairs around me to the trains. I stood my ground as they pushed past me, and felt as though I was moving against an unyielding tide. Claire called my name. I didn’t hear her at first. She tried again and it rang like wind chimes in my ears. I began to pull my thoughts together. Our train was coming. It was time for me to go. Again.
No, I told myself as I turned to descend the steps. I wasn’t crazy. Brendon was here. He was in my arms, warm and real and inviting. My body drifted in and out of its sensory memory of him. It would be a very long time before I would be able to force the experience of seeing, feeling, touching him out of my head. But I allowed the crowd to carry me forward to the platform, onto the open métro car where I took a seat beside Claire, leaving behind the only moment in time I wanted to exist in.
“Isn’t that your phone?” Claire asked after a while, knocking my elbow with hers.
“Huh? Oh, yeah,” I reluctantly came back to life and took the buzzing object out of my purse. I looked at the name and number that stared back at me in solid block lettering.
“Sebastian?” Claire asked.
“Right on time,” she continued, smiling eagerly.
I answered the call. Sebastian confirmed that he would be joining us here in Paris tomorrow. A sense of gratefulness overtook me. Sebastian is coming.
For reasons I couldn’t and wouldn’t want to explain to anyone, I needed to see him again. I needed something to block out the madness that had unexpectedly re-entered my life. I needed someone to pull me back into reality. I needed to feel real arms around me. I needed to be cared for by a human being. I needed to give my heart to someone before I reached the point where I couldn’t feel it beating anymore.
I needed to pretend I could feel it beating even now.