Today I Met A Man
Shopping I can do.
Browsing is a no no.
We are in Brive, Emmaus has been trawled, car stashed with bargains and she is content.
Happy head held high, she is off and I have an hour to myself.
A beer and a spell of people watching, I cannot wait.
This is a routine we are both happy with.
Two minutes walk to the cafe, I turn a well known corner, and the pain in my chest takes my breath away.
An old man sits, back against the wall, knees clasped and snoring gently.
Skin so dark, limbs so thin, feet so bare, I can only stare.
I stop so suddenly, a girl walks into me, foul language and she carries on, face buried in her phone.
His eyes open and a smile is there.
I ask if I can help him and his reply is simply,’Of course’
I ask him to wait and retreat to the boulangerie.
The girl bats not an eyelid to my request for a soft baguette with a rillette filling.
We sit side by side, backs to the wall and he is demolishing the baguette.
So English, why do you sit with me?
I tell him of my friend, Asha.
So many years ago, but still with me.
Baguette finished, he turns to me, a look that goes so deep, eyes unblinking and he says, ‘Yes I know you.
You are few’.
My Father fought in Algeria.
The French Army caught him and killed him.
I like to think someone was kind to him, but I do not know.
I ask, but his family is gone.
I pry no further.
Back from the Boulangerie with two coffees, we talk, me stumbling over his French, him, bewildered by mine.
He is Yani, I am Paul.
A friendship is there, laughter amid the sorrow of long held memories.
I have to stand, my bum is sore, and he says, do not go yet, I explain and he giggles.
He makes me laugh and we are both helpless, laughing over nothing.
A gendarme is watching from across the road, a smile twitching as he struggles to maintain his presence.
Our laughter is catching, a woman with a small child is laughing, a young couple are giggling.
It is contagious, Yani is hanging off my shoulder, and people are either laughing fit to burst or just staring.
My ribs hurt, Yani wheezes 'stop please……'
And that makes me laugh more.
And so, today, I met a man.
Writers can showcase their work and get feedback
Messages: 1 • Page 1 of 1