“Paris Street Symphony” — a short story by Jeannie Monroe

August 4th, 2020

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“Paris Symphony” a story by Jeannie Monroe, was a short-listed entry in our recently concluded 54th Short Fiction Contest. It is published with the permission of the author

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photo by Dancorona21 / CC BY-SA

Paris 75007 Rue Saint-Dominique x Boulevard de La Tour-Maubourg 20150607

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Paris Street Symphony

By Jeannie Monroe

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…..Pedestrians all around me narrow their eyes at the harassing wind and lower their umbrellas to help protect against the assault.

…..Not me. I lift my chin towards the grey skies and allow the wind to caress my face and to set my scarf dancing around my neck. I feel free. I catch a glance of myself in a shop mirror as I walk along the bustling sidewalks of Rue de Rivoli. My lips are stained red; a color of confidence. At that thought, I’m also relieved my eyes aren’t visible past my sunglasses. Sometimes I see judgement in them; they often work in opposition to my mind.

…..I soak in my surroundings of the architecture and the music of foreign conversation. I inhale the aroma of different cuisines, previous rain, and flowers. The sun arrives unannounced and breaks through the clouds to reflect off the shop windows, my cheeks, and then catches the bronze surface of Joan of Arc. The glare makes me squint even through my glasses. I stop and look up at the tall statue. There she sits so steadfast. Joan, staunch and sure. Inexplicably I’m angry with her. She is a figure of feminine strength and integrity. She knew exactly what she was fighting for and what she believed in, and I suppose I’m envious and irritated with that. My previous confidence waivers.

…..My mood darkens with the sun that hides once again behind a cloud. I’m exhausted by this myriad of emotions. The moment I’m on a high I think of him, of those words he spoke, of my weakness, and I come crashing down. I’ve traveled half the world for this man, and now the Paris streets are my only companion.

…..I eventually make my way to one of my favorite cafes and sit down at a rod iron table nestled in the outside corner, a wall of flowers keeping it company. The sun is becoming less shy and shines her bright face down with approval. What could be more perfect? Some of the ambiance may be for the benefit of the tourists, but damn if it doesn’t do its job.

…..I take a sip of my Bordeaux; the silky red coating my throat and nerves. I close my eyes to savor the sensation, when a melody starts to drift down the cobblestone. It pulls me in and tempts me with its sensual sound. At first it lulls me, working with the Bordeaux to create a light buzz of relaxation. I let its rhythm sooth me.

…..When I open my eyes again, I see the source of my mental massage; a saxophonist standing at the far corner, eyes closed, feeling his own meaning. A little bit of chaos is created as the large bass next to him joins in his story. They converse and disagree; turmoil riffs the sidewalk and resonates in my soul. But in the crescendo of their conversation, they come together in agreement and synchronize once again in storytelling and my heart quickens with the volume of their statement. I want to cry and laugh, I’m angry and enlightened. The sun and wind have also come together to touch my face and share the street’s symphony.

…..I inhale deeply as the outro says goodbye and the final note both leaves me wanting more and feeling relief it’s over. The musical storytellers remain friends in the end, staying in tune with each other.

…..I take another sip of wine and a small smile crosses my face, and a tear leaves my eye. Perhaps music is the only man I need; we can struggle and develop through an emotional ride and still end in harmony, still in love.

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 Jeannie Monroe is a mother, active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and literary student. She recently finished writing a children’s book series and is working on her first novel. 

 

 

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Listen to Dexter Gordon play “Stairway to the Stars,” from the 1963 album Our Man in Paris

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Short Fiction Contest Details

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