It was cold. The little room was pale and the paint came down like leaves in autumn. A candle shed a ray of light on a book and on her face. Wrapped in a few covers she was reading and dreaming away in the adventures she lived in her head, brought there by the words and stories of a writer. Nothing mattered to her when she was reading, nothing could disturb her. It was her way of escaping and feeling good about herself. Everything she knew, she knew because of books and reading. She liked the most the travels she made in her head. She visited far away countries, little unknown towns, isolated pieces of nature but more importantly the heart of her love, Paul. In all her dreams she took Paul with her. He was a soldier, farmer, a father,…He was there all the time and she never knew a love more intense than this.
Paul was the fruit of her imagination but she was sure that one day she would meet him and that moment would reveal the truth and make all her dreams come true.
-Give me your hand, Alice. Hold on to me.
Paul was reaching out his hand to her and helped her of a ridge. They made a long walk in the mountains of Bolivia and as they were climbing the paths got smaller and more narrow. The sun was heavy and every bit of shadow was welcome. They sat down under a big tree and rested while drinking fresh water out of a little stream. Paul put his arm around her and kept her close. She rested her head against his chest and smiled realising that nobody knew where they were and it didn’t matter to her. She could die there and be fulfilled with her life.
-It’s time to get back, are you ready?
She looked up at him like she wanted to ask him to stay there for ever.
-Come on- he said, -if we start now we’ll reach Solita before dark.
Against her will but understanding Paul’s point of view she got up, put her hand in his and started the road back.
-Do you trust me?- Paul asked her.
-Yes , why?
-Come here and close your eyes until I say it’s ok!
They were right at the ridge and he put his arms around her waist, standing behind her.
-Spread your arms know, Kate Winslet.- and then he let her fall a little in front of him still holding her tight.
-Now open your eyes!
When she opened her eyes it was like she was flying high like an eagle surveying his territory. Adrenaline pumped the blood around in her body and her heart flew right by her side calling out his name, Paul!
Alice woke up from her dream journey to Bolivia and Paul was nowhere near. Her candle was all burned up and the damp of her breath was gliding down the small window. The sun tried to warm the room but was to weak so early in the morning. She tried so hard to remember her dreams because she wrote them down in her diary so when she met Paul she could show him what they already lived together. She stretched and shivered and then put her arms exactly on the place where Paul put his arms in her dream. She could still feel him and this fed her believe he was close, ready to meet her. Somewhere he wrote a diary about the dreams he had about her, Alice.
In the kitchen, the kettle filled with water was whistling breakfast time. She longed for the coffee her mother made her. She never ate in the morning but coffee was an absolute must. It started her motor. It was the fuel which dragged her to work and true the day. The day she prayed for to pass as fast as possible so she could go back to her book, dreams and love.
One hour later she took place behind her desk in the bank where she worked. It was the second month she worked there and she was nervous because in a few days they would tell her if she could stay as a full time employee. She was the soul earner of her family and thus it was very important. Every day at the end of her shift she counted her money drawer in a slight state of panic afraid she made a mistake during the day. But she never did and her direct superior was very happy with her.
Today a new fax machine is going to be delivered and Alice is the one who is going to receive the instructions and modalities how to use it. Later on, everybody of the bank would come to her to fax papers. This gave her some hope about being able to stay there permanently. Mister Turner would call her if the delivery was made.
With her head in her papers she forgot about time and concentrated on her tasks. And then…
-Oh, yes Mister Turner, can I help you?
-The machine was delivered and you should come to hear how to work it.
-Yes sir, I come immediately.
She followed Mister Turner into the next room. Three people were standing around the new machine which was placed on an old antique desk. She recognized the director and his secretary but the third person she couldn’t place. It wasn’t the delivery man because he was wearing a nice suit and a tie of the nicest green.
-Alice,- said the director, -this is Mister Collins of the Tec-Office firm. He is going to explain to you how to use this faxing machine and your responsibility will be to make it clear to the rest of us. Are you up to it, Alice?
She swallowed her fear and tension and answered, - Yes sir, of course!
-Good, come by my office when you are done here.
-Yes sir, Mister Andretti.
Without saying goodbye Mister Andretti left the room accompanied by his secretary.
In a very shy way she looked at Mister Collins and noticed he had a friendly face. His nametag said P. Collins. Everything about him seemed familiar but as he started his explanation she focused and forgot all about his eyes which were matching his tie.
Later that day she was walking home and she saw the wind play with the fields of corn. It was like a sea without waves that was coloured yellow and green. Her thoughts wandered back to the moment when she looked into Mr. Collins’ eyes. It also reminded her of a dream she had where Paul was a farmer in a certain part of France and she was there too as a help in the kitchen. She never liked that dream because Paul was married there and she envied that woman so much. But in the end she won his heart and they made love in de fields going with the waves and the wind. Now she was anxious to get home and to read again. She felt a strange sensation in her stomach, a feeling she lost or forgot but it felt so good that she wandered what it could be.
Her mother was waiting for her with dinner and like she new about her meeting with Mr. Collins she asked if she met some interesting people today.
-Just the guy from the fax machine.
She blushed and her mother saw that there was something going on. This was not a reaction for the always calm and serene Alice.
-Why don’t you tell me about him? He seems an interesting man.
-Oh mother please, I know nothing about him and that’s not going to change because I don’t want to know.
Al thru dinner not a word was spoken but there was a smile on there faces.
Later that evening Alice sat in her little room again. A new candle was burning and now only the moon smiled down on Alice’s dreams. She sunk away in the sea of words put there by a French writer telling her of a man who had all the sicknesses of the world or so he thought. But tonight she had a hard time to concentrate. P. Collins. Green eyes. Heart beatings. Love? Paul? Paul Collins?
In her sub conscience she dreamed a plan. A way to she him again very soon and to find out what he was doing in her life so suddenly and asking all her attention. What nerve he got taking all her thoughts and time. No way she would let this happen. She wanted control back over her feelings and emotions. She wanted to be in charge again of her dreams. But Paul was her dream and filled all her emotions. It was very confusing for her but in a way it was all she was looking for.
Another candle burned, another dream to write down and this time a plan. A love plan. If Mr. Collins is her Paul she would find out as soon as possible.
The next morning, after her coffee ritual, she hurried to work. She felt her blood running thru her veins anxiously and her brain was like an electric storm ready to flood the world but only this time she wanted to leave a mark, an undeniable impression. Something that Mr. Collins couldn’t ignore or forget. But what? How could she attract his attention without being an open book. She didn’t want him to be able to read the pages of her mind like a cheap novel.
On her desk she found a pile of papers and files with post-it’s on which reminded her she had to fax the lot. Maybe the fax machine was the way to see him again, to make him come to the bank. What if there was a defect and he had to come to repair? Ah, sabotage for a good purpose. Matters of the hart.
-Good morning Mr. Andretti!
Her boss came in early today and smiled at her gently. Just as he was going to march out the room he stopped and turned around.
-Alice, I’m expecting Mr. Collins in half an hour. Show him to my office when he arrives.
-Yes sir, of course.
Her heart was beating faster again and the plan she made up could be buried or burned. No more sabotage. Time was passing so slowly now, now she knew she would see him again and be attracted to his green ,deep forest eyes. Every tick of the clock where two heartbeats. A hundred and twenty a minute. Seven thousand and two hundred beats an hour. What a rush of impassionedness.
Exactly half an hour went by and she looked anxiously at the door. A little disappointed she picked up the ringing phone and wandered why he wasn’t there yet. Mr. Andretti hated it when his appointments ran late.
The man on the phone wanted to check his accounts and disagreed with some transactions the bank did. She got distracted because of the series unfriendly words the man called her and didn’t see the shadow of a tall man casting over her desk. A few minutes later she put the phone down in an agitated way and a little angry she raised her head to see who was waiting there.
-Mr. Collins! Good morning sir. Mr. Andretti is waiting for you. Please follow me.
-Good morning, Alice is it? Are you all right? You seem upset.
-I am a little, sir. Just a rude man on the phone.
-Ah, those men, no good can come of them.
He smiled at her and she smiled back, shy but intensely.
They walked to Mr. Andretti’s office in silence but she felt the ice was broken and for her that was good. A big step forward.
As they approached the office she got nervous for the goodbye’s. It was like she would be departed from him for the rest of her life. She knocked on the door two times and as Mr. Andretti yelled enter, Mr.Collins said, -Thank you Alice, maybe I see you soon.
-Who knows, it would be nice.
Oops, what did she say now. It would be nice? She felt her face turning red but luckily Mr. Collins was entering the office and didn’t see it. She was so mad with her self for the lose lips and again her heart went into fifth gear.
That day she didn’t see him again and in a way she was relieved because she would have been embarrassed but somewhere in the back of her head she wandered what reaction it would bring. Did he hear her words and if he did would he act on it or wasn’t he interested at all. Oh God, please let him be interested, she prayed silently. On thing she did observe today. There was no ring on his finger so she had good hopes he didn’t have a wife. Maybe a girlfriend? The thought alone made her feel desperation. What if her Paul lived his dreams with somebody else? What if her quest for love ended abruptly and she could never love again.
When she came home that evening her mother was talking to a woman she didn’t know. She looked distinguished and had a certain flair hanging around her. When she saw Alice she smiled friendly and asked her mother if it was possible to talk to Alice alone.
-Alice, this is Misses Hanson. She works for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was send here by a acquaintance of yours. Mr. Collins, was it Misses Hanson?
-Yes mother, he is the man who have me instructions about the new fax machine at work. I don’t understand? What has Foreign Affairs to do with me and with Mr. Collins.
Misses Hanson smiled and answered, -That’s what I want to talk to you about. Can we sit.
They both took place in the living room while her mother felt the room greeting Misses Hanson.
-I hear you work at the Andretti Bank, do you like it there?
-Yes, I do, thank you.
-But you’re not certain yet you can stay there, are you?
-No, I’m not but they will notify me any day now.
-I don’t think you will get the job, dear.
-Excuse me? Why not?
-Because we want you at Foreign Affairs. We need a good secretary there and you where recommended by the nephew of the Minister.
-How? I don’t know anybody who is related to the Minister or his nephew.
-Yes you do! Mr. Collins, remember. He is the nephew of the Minister and had nothing than good words about you. He heard you didn’t had a steady job and saw in you a lot of qualities. What do you think, dear? Interested?
-This is all so sudden and Mr. Collins? Really? I’m a little surprised and happy in the same time. Do you have to know my answer now?
-No dear, you can take your time but there is one condition. You have to notify Mr. Collins personally about your decision. I will leave you his phone number.
Heavy smoke of cigarettes and cigars was hanging around his head in this jazzy art café. He went there frequently because he enjoyed the ambiance. It was a dark place with lights in purple and red and all the future talents were singing there or playing the extension of there bodies, there instruments. He put his pen in his jacket and folded a little peace of paper. He just kept it in his hand and was thinking about the contents of that note. He strongly felt a vibe running thru his body and the words that he wrote down where dancing in his brain on the rhythm of a contra bas.
The light of your eyes met the moonlight and the world showed all it’s secrets.
Your touch is golden and pureness is your heart.
Soft as silk you kissed my soul
Fever captured my body as I’m the prisoner of a burning love……
He was ticking his fingers on the little table where his coffee stood and whistled without a sound inside his head. A secret longing to give this poem to his unknown love took over everything which made him a reasonable man and inpatient he left his chair, took a last look around and walked to the door. He promised himself to keep faith and to believe like a romantic fool.
A taxi took him home and the driver knew without asking where he had to bring him. At least a hundred times he brought him home and by now there was a kind of connection between them.
-Yes Henry, but satisfied!
-How was the music today? Like Ella or ……
-No no no! It was modern jazz, abstract but catchy.
-I like more the old school. There’s more dept and soul in notes.
-I like it all…-but then Paul stopped talking and wandered off to a place only he knew. Henry knew about this moment, it wasn’t the first time that in the middle of a conversation he was left alone, talking to himself.
-Here we are, Paul. See you soon.
Paul paid and tipped Henry and wished him a good night.
Eight stairs up to the door of his house. A big brown door was waiting there as a guardian proud to protect and serve. The hall was cold and much to big. A big mirror reflected his image and as usual he thought in that exact moment that he should move from there. He didn’t dough. It was his parents house and his grandparents before that. Too much history.
He went into the library where he sat down to write in his diary but he was tired and decided just to take some notes. He dragged himself to bed and fell asleep without taking off his clothes.
In a total different state of mind Paul was walking towards the Andretti Bank. A state of the art fax machine was delivered there and he had to initiate one of the secretaries. Franco Andretti was a personal friend of his which came in handy to sell his article.
The door leading to the hall of the bank opened. Mr Turner entered followed by a beautiful young woman. It was as she was walking on clouds and she moved like the waves of a lake. A fresh summer breeze filled the room and for a moment he recognized this face, this beautiful face. Mr. Andretti introduced her as Alice and he immediately associated her with wonderland. He came back to reality and started to explain the functions of the fax but while doing this he took the opportunity to study her face, voice and movements. She was not a stranger to him, he saw her before. His dreams where filled by her and now he had a dream come true.
A quick talk with Mr. Andretti learned him that she didn’t have a steady job at the bank but that they would hire her permanently very soon. He wanted to act on that before it was to late. He wanted to use his connections to offer her a steady job and impress her. Was this the right thing to do? Paul had two reasons to doubt his anxiousness, Mr Andretti and Alice. He decided to chew on his thoughts for a while and followed his agenda until the evening brought him back to jazz, smoke and coffee.
The next morning Paul took an early start and drove to his uncles house. Georges Collins was the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the brother of his late father. He always wanted Paul to come and join the diplomacy but Paul wanted to make it on his own and feel free of strains or relations but this time it was his overly fast beating heart that was at stake. He was driven by a fairly new feeling that he didn’t dare to describe as love yet but he was so close of being sure. He reached the domain and the impressive gates of his uncles house where the security checked his identity and announced his arrival. He drove up to the front of the house where he was welcomed by a valet opening his car door and seeing him to the hall.
-Your uncle will see you in a second, sir. Would you like to wait in the library?
Paul agreed because this was his favourite place of the house. He always felt that he couldn’t count enough to know how many book there where. This room was filled to the roof with wooden layers in dark brown and they all carried books and billions of words, ideas and inspiration. Just as he wanted to sit down his uncle entered.
-Uncle Georges, good morning!
-Paul, my boy, how are you?
The usual chit chat filled the next minutes and Paul was impatient to talk about the quest his heart made him take. As the tea was served and the valet left the library he bundled all his courage.
-I wanted to talk to you about something. It’s very important to me and to be honest it’s a matter of the heart.
-Really? Are you telling me you met someone you could love, Paul? This is world shocking news. Tell me all about her. It is a her, isn’t it?
-Yes yes, it is a her but I can’t tell you much yet. I met her once, briefly, I now where she works and her first name and that’s it.
-Impressive! Would it be fair to say that you are blinded, my boy? A little hasty maybe?
-I know but I have this strange feeling that I know her since for ever and that she is the one I’ve been waiting for. And in my dreams I meet her every night. Everywhere my dream brings me, she’s there and now she’s the soul owner of my thoughts.
-But where do I come in, Paul? Do you want me to reason you or feed this fever you have?
-I would like to ask you to give her a job, a steady one. She’s working at the Andretti bank for the moment but hasn’t been hired permanently yet. The bank is very pleased with her and will give her the job soon but I was thinking that a job at Foreign Affairs would be even better for her and maybe she would be impressed by it. For me a perfect opportunity to break the ice.
-This is most unusual and I have to say I’m not reluctant to act on this urge of yours. She’s a total stranger to you and me and this not an ordinary job you’re asking me to give her.
-Aren’t you in the perfect position to screen her? I don’t even want to know about her background. You check it and decide if she’s F.A. material. I never asked you for anything before and this is important to me.
-Alright. Find out her full name and date of birth and I will see what I can do.
-That’s all I’m asking, thank you.
A little later Paul left and drove into town. He put his phone in hand free mode and called Franco Andretti. An appointment was made and a hour later he could go and see him. He also called his personal secretary to cancel all his appointments that day. That was the first time ever. His poor secretary asked if he was all right and if he was feeling ill. His brain was working fast en sharp now. The whole scenario ran before his eyes and he wanted to be sure he didn’t oversee the slightest detail.
IF YOU LIKED IT SO FAR LET ME KNOW AND I MIGHT GET INSPIRED TO GO ON AND MAYBE EVEN FINISH IT.