Geneviève sat on the banks of the Seine, with the wind in her hair and the cardigan wrapped snugly around her slightly shivering body. She sat there as the sun sank slowly, throwing its dying light onto the Eiffel tower, making it gleam almost painfully bright. She sat there oblivious to how she looked to anyone who passed her. Although honestly, Parisians didn’t really care about a twenty-something young woman sitting by the river, seemingly forlorn. There was nothing new about Geneviève. There was nothing special about her.
She took a long drag from her almost burnt cigarette. It glowed a brilliant orange and she inhaled deep into her lungs and was soon shrouded in the grey, smoky aftermath. She stood up and started walking; crushing the butt under her heels just like she did every single day at almost the exact same time. She crossed the bridge and kept walking resolutely. It was a long walk and she needed to start walking now to reach on time.
She came to Paris about 8 years ago. She came here so that she could work and give her sister a chance at a better life. So that she may get out of the small alpine town they called home and see the world. She knew she herself, would have to live the hard life. But she supposed it was all worth it in the end. Marion would have a good life, and the sheer thought of her rosy-cheeked little sister being happy warmed her heart. And she was sure, Marion would come for her later. She was sure of it. After all, they did love each other.
She passed a cosy little bistro at the corner of the street where a fiddler was playing The Blue Danube on his instrument. She paused for about 10 seconds to listen to the main. In those few seconds, she travelled back to the time when she used to sing on the streets with her then-boyfriend who played the guitar. They’d collect whatever money passers-by would throw at them and get something to eat for the day. Those were delirious times. Those were the times when she’d forgotten about why she’d come to Paris in the first place. She was madly and ridiculously in love.
She smiled from the corner of her mouth as she dropped a coin in front of the fiddler. He doffed his hat at her in gratitude as she walked away, her hair now falling in wisps on her face. She kept walking, thinking about how foolish and stupidly-young she’d been a few years ago.
She had been beautiful once. She still was, she supposed. However, signs of weariness were apparent on her face to those who looked a little closely. She had lost her childlike glow. Her cheekbones were now more prominent. She walked with an elegant gait, and didn’t prance on her feet anymore. She’d grown old, she realised. She had grown old in Paris, along with the city. The cracks in the walls of the buildings and the broken streetlamps at certain places mirrored the cracks in her skin and her broken heart and soul.
“Almost there”, she thought to herself. She quickly glanced at her watch. It was almost time now. She needed to get to work. She needed the money to send back to Marion and her mother. Maybe if she spent enough money, Marion could come and visit her sometime soon. She took a picture out of her handbag. It was a picture from 15 years ago, and a corner was slightly burnt from the time she accidentally placed a cigarette too close to it. Marion and a younger Geneviève were looking out of the picture into her eyes. They were standing hand in hand and posing awkwardly. A tear sneaked out of her hazel eyes, and travelled down her cheek and finally fell onto the photo, wetting Marion’s face. She turned the photo over and it said, “Come home soon, I miss you. – Marion”. “I miss you too, mum armour”, she whispered with trembling lips and went inside.
She stared at herself in the mirror for a long time. It was exhausting, but the money was good and God knows she needed the money. She couldn’t let her sister stay there forever. She was the only person who was earning for her sister and her mother after their father left them. And maybe someday, when Marion is in a better place, she could go back and study. She wanted to study business and start her own boutique somewhere. The dream seemed a bit too far-fetched, but that never stopped her from thinking about it. Maybe Marion will become successful, and then she could take off and study and follow her own dreams. Then the two of them could be near each other and be happy.
She put the makeup on her face, transforming her delicate features into promiscuous ones. She took off her cardigan and her dress, exposing the silken laced lingerie underneath. The door cracked open slightly and a voice echoed inside. “Lola, you’re up next for an hour. The customer wants the girlfriend experience”.
No longer Geneviève now, Lola took a deep breath and walked out of the door with confidence and poise.
“So, how’re you doing today, mon chéri?”, said Lola coyly to the man seated on the bed as she locked the door behind her.