Being inspired, maybe – 14

A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like.  For instance:


And, then, the words:



I didn't believe in fate.  Nor did I believe in destiny.
Things happened for a reason, even though that reason sometimes was not apparent at the time.
At a loose end in Paris, the start of a week-long visit, I let a friend talk me into going to a tarot card reader.  She said the cards had predicted her future, and that I should give it a go.
"What's the worst that could happen?"
I didn't say it out loud, but turning up the death card would be just my luck.
Over one too many wines, I let her talk me into going.

Madam unpronounceable name was every inch the gypsy and was as theatrical as I'd expected.  I got the tarot card and crystal ball treatments.
I didn't turn up the death card, much to my relief.
I did get a forecast future, unambiguous, but rather mysterious.
I would be going on a boat ride and I would run into a damsel in distress, and yes, she used those exact words.
Elise thought it amusing and suggested I might take a cruise on the Seine River to the Eiffel Tower.  Well, it was a boat ride, what harm could it do?

I went on the cruise, but there were no damsels, in distress or otherwise.  There were the typical tourists, like myself, and others that appeared to be under the direction of a tour guide.  Their accents American, some seemed bored, some impatient, and others caught up in the moment, particularly when the Eiffel Tower came into sight.
A number of tourists were jockeying for positions to take photos.  I was checking my phone for messages.
"No interest in the tower," a woman's voice said beside me, in a distinct American Accent.  One of the tour group, not so interested in photography, even though she was holding an expensive camera.
I turned my head, she was old but young, and a look that could penetrate to the soul.  I felt a shiver go down my spine.  "The big metal thing?"
She smiled.  "Technically, you're right.  Not your first visit I'm guessing?"
"No."  I glanced out the window as saw it majestically heading into the clouds.  It had just started to rain as the boat came into the dock.
She stood, about to join her tour friends.  "My name's Mabel, by the way."
"Daniel."
"Good to meet you, Daniel."
"You too."
She gave me another of her disarming smiled and left the boat.  She was anything but a damsel in distress.

As I expected, nothing came of the gypsy's prophesy, and my week slowly ran out, leaving the last day for Paris Disneyland.  I had not intended to go, but Elise promised to take her two cousins and asked me to go as moral support.
It was a day marked by train rides, car rides, rides of all types, the best to my mind the Hollywood Hotel, indispersed with dining in the restaurants, and cartoon shows as a means to rest.
Children had a lot of energy.
It was quite by accident we ended up at the Mississipi Steamboat ride, having taken a wrong turn, not for the first time, and as it had seating, a welcome relief at the end of a long day.
I closed my eyes and tried not to think of the drive home.
Then I heard raised voices, one of which sounded familiar.
"I'm sorry, that's not what I intended to say."
Then the familiar voice in return, "We always say what we think when we are annoyed.  I'm disappointed, but not surprised.  Please leave me alone.  I'll see you back at the hotel."
A few seconds later I heard, and felt someone flopping into the seat next to me.
A gasp, then, "Daniel, this is a pleasant surprise."
Mabel.
The two children arrived back at exactly the same time, each grabbing one of Elise's hands trying to drag her away.
"Is this your wife and children?"  It was a genuine surprise in her tone.
"No.  My brother's girlfriend's sister, if that makes sense.  Elise, and her cousins, we are escorting them on their Disneyland adventure."
Elise smiled and allowed the children to drag her away.
Mabel leaned back in her seat and sighed.  "It's been a terrible day.  I came on this tour because what I thought was my best friend begged me to.  Now I discover she only wanted me to come until she met her online friend, some Frenchman.  In the old days we used to call them pen friends, now," another sigh, "their usually something else entirely."
"That's disappointing.  What will you do?"
"Go home, I guess.  Unless you're looking for a traveling companion."
"I'm supposed to be going home tomorrow."
"Where if you don't mind me asking?"
"Brooklyn Heights, New York."
"I'm in Queens.  Perhaps we could go back together.  I have a few more days in Paris, and if you don't have to rush home..."
She left the sentence hanging in mid air, an invitation to someone she hardly knew.

I shrugged.  "Why not?"


© Charles Heath 2018


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