I gave you a small gift, the white queen from Moreau’s chess board.
Pilfered from the museum apartment without consequence by simply leaning in and taking it.
You said you’d grant me any wish. I told you my wish. Today, you’ve worried this wish, knocked it around in your head, rubbed at its edges.
I brought you to the Eiffel Tower. The cobblestones at its base inlaid with tourists and vendors.
We wound between blankets arrayed with miniature, LED-lit Eiffel Towers.
Tops shot into the air and hung suspended fifty feet above our heads.
I looked up through the steel girders toward the summit and executed a Sound of Music pirouette.
I turned to you, smiling. But you were elsewhere.
“Hollow,” you said. I could hear a kind of wind in your voice, like you were slowly deflating.
I took you by the waist, brought your nose to mine, looked you in the eye. “What’s hollow?”
Your gaze shifted toward the throng surrounding us and for a moment I saw what you saw.
An icon’s infinite repetition, consumable for 10 Euros, an endless cycle of human transaction, distribution and false mythology.
Banal, vulgar, meaningless. You had taken Des Esseintes’s rejection of humanity in ‘Against the Grain’ to heart.
“The bottom obviously isn’t working, so how about the top?”
I pulled at your hand. You were clutching at the white queen. I cradled her in our two hands, and we brought her up together.
Out on the observation deck, we gazed down at the Seine and the long straight line of progress from the Louvre to the Arc de Triomphe.
I closed my eyes and leaned my head against the thin metal grill, focused on the feel of the breeze, the distant bubbling of city.
“You know,” you said in the most matter-of-fact voices, “I think I’m falling in love with you.”
I smiled, kissed you once and pulled back. Your mood had shifted.
“Hang on,” I said, “this deserves a celebration.”
I pulled a plastic bag of confetti from my purse, purchased especially for this kind of occasion.
You shuttled the queen into your pocket and cupped your hands together.
When they were filled, you let out a whoop! and sent a cloud of geometric forms into the air.
They caressed us, caught in our hair, as they drifted down with gravity.
We stood in their dappled pool and watched as the remaining confetti showered down on Paris.