FRIENDSHIP by Susan Mehr
The smell of freshly baked croissants, the hum of voices and the clicking of heels on the cobblestone street echo as I make my way to the Rue de Promenade. My first day in Paris. Life is great, and I’m free as a bird painting the sky with my wings. I’m truly flying. A melody plays in my head, ‘La vie en rose’, and I can’t help hum the chorus. The Eiffel tower peers from above the buildings and I sigh, then my tummy reminds me it’s breakfast. I peer into the paper bag I’m holding, inside six mini croissants, I couldn’t help myself. Yum. My fingers reach and squish at the buttery pastry, pulling apart a piece and popping it into my mouth. My first taste of Paris.
“Bonjour Mademoiselle,” a deep manly voice sings from across the promenade and continues to speak in French.
I turn. Is he speaking to me? I turn again; there is no one behind me. He must be.
“Bonjour Mademoiselle,” he repeats.
I glance back and smile. “Bonjour.”
“You are not from Paris? Oui!”
“Ah, no one is perfect,” he replies, his face sparkles with happiness. I take a few steps forward. He is sitting in a wheelchair with a sketchbook on his lap. An elderly man yet his aura exudes is of a young soul. His eyes, crystal blue, and in a friendly way studying every inch of me.
He taps his finger to his chin. “Tourist? No. Artist? Oui. Dancer? Musician? No. Artist, Poet?” His continued stare reads my mind. “Oui.”
My smile etches deeper. “Wee. Is it the beret? It’s too much?” I reply, failing to sound French. “Sorry, my French is not so good.”
“No,” he replies pointing at the tote bag concealing my sketchbook and pencils hanging from my shoulder. “No, the beret, is your signature. Classic. Please, take a seat on the park bench next to me. You will be busking, too? Oui.”
“Wee. Well, I will try. A croissant?” I offer and hold out the paper bag of croissants.
“Je Vous remercie, thank you. You are early and that is good. We’re seated in a good position; the tourists start here. We’re in the line of traffic, and it’s going to be a beautiful day. A good busking day.”
He reaches into the bag and takes a croissant as I sit next to him on the park bench. His smile is infectious, and I smile back.
“Délicieux. Mon nom est Pierre. Name Pierre.”
“Lilly,” I answer, pulling out my sketchbook from my tote bag. I lay it on my lap and fold over the first page.
He peers over my shoulder, “Ah, your first portrait I see, but it isn’t finished.”
“Wee finished,” I reply, staring back into those crystal blue eyes. His expression confused.
“Your portrait has no eyes, nose or mouth, oui!”
“Wee. This is a portrait of my true friend. I’ve never looked her in the eyes or upon her face. I don’t know the colour of her eyes. I have never heard her voice, speak her words of wisdom and encouragement, but I feel her presence and her words linger in my mind. I’ve no idea of her appearance, so I can’t draw her eyes or mouth. I can’t sketch her portrait; I can only paint her portrait with words. I wrote a sonnet; do you wish to read?”
He lies back in his chair and sighs, “Ah, I cannot read. No one is perfect. Mademoiselle, please can you read it for me?
“Wee,” His eyes still sparkle and waits for me to begin.
A True Friend.
In my dreams a star gaze, upon me,
glistering brightness of old satin sheen.
A humble person, supports, devotee,
mysterious, faceless, Evangeline.
Within my empty heart she finds her place,
and her unheard voice echoes in my mind.
Continuously I’m in her embrace,
Inspires confidence of her design.
Though we’ve never met, never tried to hide,
A friendship so true, valued and golden.
Miles away your shadow still falls with pride,
promise happiness, a bond unbroken.
Reminding, to be proud of who you are,
True Friend, Rare Person, unselfish Bright Star.
Dedicated to a True Friend Petru Viljoen.