Looking at Paris in this light, Traci fondly remembered meeting Thomas here, in the city of love, more than 35 years ago.
It was a night just like this; dusk was ambling into the city, with the lights of the Eiffel Tower sparkling in the distance. Then, like now, they reminded her of diamonds; like the diamonds that adorned her neck tonight – the gift Thomas had given her for their 25 anniversary.
More than three decades had passed since she and Thomas had met. Back then, they were among 50 students, from their small Midwest college, studying abroad, honing their French skills in a sea of Parisians. She’d been a giddy girl and he’d been the astute honors student.
Traci continued to gaze out of the 10ft windows of her 1500 sq. ft. suite – the Champs Elysees Suite of the La Tremoille hotel – one of the finest in Paris. It was a far cry from the dank, cramped, and smelly hostel where she’d fallen in love with Thomas.
A soft knock preceded the entrance of the Amelie, but her entrance did not break Traci’s reverie.
Amelie was their dedicated maid that always serviced Traci and Thomas during the week-long conference that Thomas attended every year.
Although Traci thought that it was a foregone conclusion, still, ever year, Traci asked Thomas if they were staying at the La Tremoille. As if withholding something precious from Traci, he always said he’d think about it. And every year, just 3 days in advance of their trip, Thomas would inform her that, yes, their accommodations would be at the La Tremoille; and every year, she’d breathe of sigh of relief.
Amelie had become her closest friend and confident; over the past 15 years/ Year after year, she attended to Traci’s needs while they were in Paris, and they wrote long letters to each other after Traci left. Amelie was the only brightness, besides the Eiffel Tower, that Traci experienced in Paris.
Although she could hear the Amelie’s soft footsteps on the plush carpet behind her, and the clink of the glass crystal bowl as Amelie placed it on the marble buffet, Traci continued to regard the twinkling of the city lights, and the reflection of the sapphire blue sequins of the bodice of the formal dress she was wearing. She was sure that Thomas would approve of it; the blue matched the color of his eyes.
But, as she made her grand entrance into the living space of the suite, ready to attend the banquet, she knew he didn’t like it. Traci froze when she saw his face; he was angry; she could always tell by those same sapphire blue eyes when he disapproved. She’d made a mistake – again.
Without turning from the window, she addressed Amelie.
“I won’t be going to the banquet tonight, Amelie.”
“Yes, I can see that”, replied Amelie.
Amelie attended to the task at hand. Ice could be heard clinking on the edges of the crystal bowl, as Amelie removed the cubes with the silver tongs.
Traci saw Amelie’s approach in the reflection in the window, turned around, and welcomed her friend with a crooked smile. They embraced briefly.
As they parted, Amelie said, “Now let’s see about that black eye”, and gently placed the freshly made ice pack on Traci’s swollen face.