Saturday, August 07, 2004

I haven't told you this but I've been writing a book. The posting of a few days ago about Helene was just one of the chapters. So as an experiment and to find out what you think, here's another chapter. You may need a little back ground information first just to put you in the picture.
I met Helene when I was fourteen on a school trip to France. She became my best friend and confidante and penfriend. That was until her father took a shotgun to me and I never saw her again for twenty some years. This chapter is when I first meet her again after all that time. I hope you enjoy it. Read on............

Monday 18th December 2000, Ryanair flight FR514, Stansted to Dinard, France. I sattoward the rear of the plane, looking out of the window. The English channel, coldand grey appeared and disappeared through the clouds. I didn’t know what was goingto happen. The question of chemistry had arisen many times in our letters and it was along way to go to find out we hated each other. I had told everyone I was going to visitGary who now lived in Portsmouth. I didn’t want the inevitable questions anddeclarations of insanity. I’ve done some crazy things in my time, and this was yetanother. I sat drinking my Miller Lite, two pounds for a can smaller than a standardcoke. The beer cost more than the flight. Ninety nine pence each way. My mind went back twenty two years to when I last saw Helene, how I had wished Ihad had the courage to kiss her then. No matter what happens I was going to kiss thisgirl. Number one priority. I had decided on that.The seat belt light came on and the plane descended through the clouds. The northcoast of Brittany came into view. Rough white crested waves threw themselves ontothe rocks below. Everything was grey. The sea, the rocks, the clouds. It started raining.The plane banked right for the final approach. Then dropped to the runway. The cowlsof the engines opened up and moved back to create reverse thrust, and sent up hugesplumes of spray off the tarmac. As we taxied to the terminal. I saw for the first timehow small l’aeroport de Dinard really was. My heart started beating faster. My stomach tied itself in knots. I’d arrived in France Iwas here for three days no matter what. No matter what happened between Helene andI. Passengers started moving and reaching up to the lockers above the seats. The airwas a mass of moving bags and coats. Taking my turn I got off the plane down thesteps and across the tarmac to customs. Light misty rain came down and it was alreadygloomy, just three days before the shortest day.Collecting my bag I went through the gate to the arrivals lounge. I looked around thewaiting crowd. People greeted each other kissing and hugging. And then I saw her.Standing by the far wall with her hands behind her back. Not running toward me, notwaving, just standing there smiling waiting for me to find her just like she did allthose years ago. She hadn’t changed. I walked up to her.“Hello.”“’ello.” she replied softly. “I’m here.”“Yes you are ‘ere.”“God! This is awkward. There’s something I must do Helene.”“Yes what is it?” she said looking round, wondering what I’d forgotten.“It’s this.” I reached out and cupped her face with my hands and kissed her lips. Shethrew her arms round me and held me tight. “You’re shaking Helene.”“I know. I can’t ‘elp.” She didn’t say anymore she just stood there holding me, herhead buried in my shoulder. I held her closely, stroking her hair, waiting for her tostop trembling. After twenty five years and seven months, I finally had Helene in myarms. She was still petite and slim. Her hair much shorter. She wore a long coat and abright silk scarf. She looked up at me and I kissed her again. It had to be done.“Well we can’t stay here forever.” I said eventually, “where are we going?”Helene let go of me. Wiped her eyes and composed herself. “Shall we eat? I know anice restaurant near here at Dinan.”“That sounds good.” I picked up my bag and followed her to her car. A small whiteCitreon AX. In the back was her small dog. Mendy. It jumped up and down at thewindow barking excitedly. Helen opened the car and I got in.Mendy jumped on mestraight away licking my face and wagging it’s tail.“She likes you.” We drove to Dinan not saying a word. Everyso often we’d catch each other lookingacross and turn away. But I had to look at her just as she had to look at me. The restaurant was at the bottom of a hill, overlooking the sea. We chose a table nearthe huge panoramic windows and sat down staring at the view. We looked at eachother, embarrassed with the silence, Helene laughed nervously “So!” she said.“So!” I felt stupid, after all the months planning this trip, all the letters, I couldn’tthink of anything to say. The ice had to be broken. “What shall we order?” I saidpicking up the menu. Helene chose a sea food dish, I chose steak.“Ah ah! It’s a choice for a man.”“I don’t like sea food much.”“You can not live in Brittany and not eat sea food. I will show you one day ‘ow goodit is.”“And I’ll show you....... what shall I show you..........” I tailed off trying to think ofsome nice english food.“...that the food in England is not good?” suggested Helene.“well I don’t eat much English food. It’s all italian and indian and chinese.”“So it’s true English food is bad.”“Well you eat frogs and snails, how bad is that?”“I never eat that.” and she looked at me indignantly before laughing. From thatmoment we never stopped talking. In the years that followed there was never anyawkward silences, we always had something to say to each other, and when we weresilent it was never awkward, just a warm contentment with being comfortable withsomeone. Sometimes we didn’t need words, sometimes just a look told me everythingI needed to know. After the meal we walked back the car. The rain was falling like a mist. Heleneopened the door and Mendy jumped out and ran around excitedly. We got in.“What about your dog?”“Mendy? She comes back in un moment when she’s ‘ad a run. .....So!” and she satstraight up in her seat, hands folded in her lap. Waiting. I kissed her. Mendy jumped up at the door which Helene opened and let her in. Only to run aroundthe car with wet paws. “I must tell you. Do not touch my handbag when Mendy is inthe car.”“What this one?” I said turning and picking up her brown leather shoulder bag whichhad a purple silk handkerchief knotted round the strap. Mendy growled. I patted heron the head and sliding my hand down her muzzle grabbed her and gently shook herhead.“No one can do that. except me. My dog protects me. Kiss me.” I move to kiss her andMendy stood up and growled. “She doesn’t even let my ‘usband kiss me.”“That’s lucky.”“Oui she is my lucky dog.”We drove the two and a half hours to the south coast of Brittany, through many smallvillages and dark country roads. I looked at everything in Helenes car. her cassettesher map books, bit’s of paper, toys in the back and she sat there smiling.“You are curious? No?”“Inquisitive.” I replied.“What is inquisitive?”“Curious. I like to see things. I like to look.” Helen always found it amusing that I hadto look at everything, I wasn’t being nosey so much as I had a desire to know as muchas possible and the more I looked about her car the more I knew about this girl. Ifound out what music she listened to in her car. My music, tapes I’d sent her.Shopping receipts told me what she liked to eat. We finally arrived at the Hotel in hertown and booked into the room she’d reserved for me. We went up the stairs. Helene,being claustrophobic, refused to use the lift. I opened the door and stood back to lether in. She stepped in a couple of feet and stopped looked round. Into the bedroom shelooked everywhere inspecting the table, the curtains, TV, patted the bed, ran herfingers along a shelf and finally shrugged and said “it’s OK.” as if to no oneparticular. She turned to me “You know I ‘ave just one hour and I have to feed mychildren.”I had nothing to loose. I’d come this far so I held her and said “We’d better go to bedthen.”She said nothing, just looked at me carefully then turned to close the curtains. “oneminute.” she whispered and went to the bathroom, from where she called “Mikel.Turn off the light.” I undressed and got into bed and waited. I could see her come outof the bathroom, her slim naked body silvery grey in the darkness. Quickly shejumped into bed and pulled the covers up tight round her neck. Finally my Helene was in bed with me.

I told Helene I was writing a book. I asked her if she minded me telling our story.She said that was OK. But........... “you can write anything, it’s a good story, it’s our lovestory, but what happens in bed is for me and you, no one else. I don’t want you towrite about that.” So sorry guys. Rules is rules. If that’s the conditions set by the girl. Ihave to abide by them. Anyway I tend to agree with her. Comments criticisms all welcome. Requests for further chapters to be posted will be considered. They're already written. Thank you. Now post your comment.

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