It was a rare cold summers evening in Paris. His electric blue eyes, one that would make any girl stop dead in her tracks, seemed far away and lonely. From far, he looked like one with deep troubled thoughts, like one who had too much on his mind, but no one to speak with. From far, he seemed to be smiling, but almost as if to someone who wasn’t near him; it looked like a secret smile, reserved for just one person.
Nash took a deep breath of the French air, it was almost sunset, he sipped his black coffee and looked around him. A young French girl in the café opposite him seemed to be transfixed by his eyes. He gave her a shy grin, which turned into a huge smile as he watched her almost drop her coffee in surprise. With not much to do, he decided to go over and say hello.
Ashoka walked along the cobbled road. Smoking the last few drags of his cigarette, he decided to light another one. His eyes were dark, for those who believed eyes were the windows to a soul, his was one soul that carried too much pain, a soul that was lost and unforgiven. He looked around for a café, his stomach was rumbling but he’d been ignoring it for a while now. However, now, he wanted coffee to go with his cigarette.
Walking along the streets of Paris, he wondered why he had chosen this city, after nearly five years of travelling, he had decided to end his journey where he had started it. And he was hoping, praying, one would almost say, praying, that he would meet Her here. She had promised him… He stopped himself from thinking. His head was spinning. It was cold, funny weather he wondered. His long nose, her favorite, could smell warm French bread, he decided to follow.
“Bonjour Monsieur!” Greeted a bright eyed, dimpled waitress at a café he decided to walk into. She gave him one of her biggest grins, probably one saved for the larger tips. Ashoka gave her a half smile and found himself a table in the corner, outside, where there was a little bit of sunlight, he decided to light himself another cigarette.
Nash smiled to himself, her number in his pocket, he was walking back to his café. He stopped. The café formed the perfect backdrop, with the red umbrellas outside, a gloomy day, a ray of sunshine fell onto one table in particular. A young man, he didn’t look like he was from around here, was smoking on one of the outside tables. He was looking ahead, he was all by himself, but his thoughts were elsewhere. Nash wondered what he must be thinking of. He walked closer, found his own table outside, but this time, chose to face this stranger instead of the girl behind him. On closer inspection, he noticed how unlike the others who came alone to the café, this stranger came with no book, no phone, no newspaper… just a pack of cigarettes and a cup of coffee.
Nash got up. Something pulled him towards this stranger.
“Excuse me…?” He was clearly interrupting.
“Hello…” The stranger smiled.
“My name is Nash. I frequent this café way too much to recognize an unfamiliar face…” He started.
The stranger laughed, “Yeah… I’m not from around here actually. Just landed yesterday, found myself walking the streets today, and ended up under this red umbrella.”
Nash grinned back, “I see, well… I hope I’m not interrupting you…”
“Oh no… I’d love the company, coffee?” The stranger interrupted him, “Cigarette?”
“Coffee would be perfect.” Nash declined the cigarette politely.
After another round of coffees, which soon turned to whiskey, and more cigarettes than Nash could count, the stranger asked him,
“So what brings you to Paris, you don’t look like you’re from around here, but you seem to fit right in…” His dark eyes piercing into Nash’s blue. Nash wondered what pain those eyes must have seen; they were deep, they had many stories to tell, well, to hide.
“A girl…” Nash smiled, but Ashoka noticed quickly, it was a sad smile. A story to hide, he wondered,
“Looks like girls these days seem to love Paris…”
Nash looked surprised, “You too?” Ashoka nodded, taking a rather large gulp of his cold whiskey. It was either the warmth of the whiskey, or her memory, or the wind had changed, but he suddenly felt warm from the inside.
“Five years ago, I broke a girls heart.” He stopped, it had been five years since he had spoken about her, but something about this stranger made him want to tell him more.
Nash stayed silent, listening. The strangers eyes seemed to want to talk, and Nash was in no mood to disturb, he took another sip of his whiskey. He prayed silently, I wish this has a happy ending.”
“She waited for me, and foolishly, I travelled the world, without her. I left her behind, waiting. And never once did I look back. I tried in the beginning. To love her, hold her, keep her close to me. But one day, I felt like I needed to fly.
I met lots of people, slept with lots of women, but I’ve never met a soul like hers. And now I feel I’ve wandered all over Earth, only to want to find her soul.”
Ashoka stopped to take a breath. In one fluid motion, all her memories; he had to share them with this stranger in Paris. It only seemed like the perfect thing to do.
“She had beautiful hair, long and dark black; they seemed to have a life of their own. Always reflecting her mood. Her eyes, were beautiful and brown, all the stars in the world seem to be born from them. Her perfect lips, I could kiss them for hours, if only I hadn’t walked away. Holding her body, tracing the curves of her waist, her perfect back… I would kiss her back for hours, she would be fast asleep next to me. She was my angel, and I tore her wings and threw her away.”
Nash started feeling sick in his stomach. He listened to the strangers whole story, of betrayal, destruction, pain and tears. It all sounded too familiar.
After almost an hour, Nash stood up. Ashoka thought he must have offended him, or even worse, bored him with his story of his perfect angel, who was now missing, whom he now longed to see, touch, kiss, hold; but he didn’t know where to find her.
“Come with me…” With his head spinning, Nash tried to control his anger and walked inside the café. The stranger following close behind, looking more than confused. He lead him into the now busy café, the lights were on, and it took them both a second to get adjusted to the lighting. Soft familiar music played in the background, Intense. Ashoka tried to remember; there were pictures on the walls, they all looked too familiar. Ashoka wondered how much he had had to drink… He felt a little sick. They reached a back door, completely hidden from the café, he followed Nash inside.
Suddenly, it was as if he was hit by a thousand shooting stars, he realized what he was looking at. It was a beautiful painting, a tall painting; a girl, a beautiful girl stood smoking a cigarette with her perfect red lips, her eyes were sad, and far away. She was wearing nothing but a white blanket around her perfectly curved waist. Ashoka stood in silence.
“Roxanne…” They both said together.
Ashoka turned to look at him, the pointed nose, the electric eyes, the paint on his fingers, it took him a while to realize who he was looking at.
“Yeah… it’s me. I found her in Paris, it was months after you left her. She was broken, torn, exactly how you said you’d left her. She waited years for you to come back. I gave her all the love I could, all the happiness, but something was missing. She never let me touch her, mind you, I kissed those perfect lips of hers, but she never lay down next to me. Yours was the last touch she wanted to remember…” Nash stopped, looking directly in Ashoka’s horrified eyes.
“Yours was the last touch she had.
This café, is named after her, The Broken Butterfly. Those pictures on the wall, are all the pictures she took for you, with you, when she missed you… she waited for the day you would come and she would show them to you… Ashoka… She waited for you… Until she could wait no more.”
Ashoka didn’t want to hear more. He turned away, he needed to get out of this place. He ran out of the room behind, into the café, and found himself facing a huge portrait. It was a picture, a couple tangled in a white blanket, only the boys face and long nose could be seen, and the girls long dark hair. Deep sunlight poured in through the window, a white thin curtain allowing the sun to gently kiss their bodies.
It took Ashoka a while to realize he was crying in the middle of the café. A waitress smiled at him shyly,
“Lots of customers come in here and look at this picture with confusion; they find it perfect, yet incomplete. They say they see love, but hidden in it is great sorrow. If you don’t know, this café is a tribute to the girl in the picture, and her Wanderer, she used to call him.
All it took was a handful of sleeping pills, and a glass of red wine. Our owner, Nash, found her. Said he had never seen her so peaceful. Beside her, was a letter, it said, “Here’s to the perfect ending” and that’s it. No reason, no name, nothing… but anyone could take one look into her eyes and know that this was eventual.”
Nash watched as Ashoka ran out of his café into the dark night of Paris. Somewhere, he felt jealous; he wondered why Ashoka had decided to come to his café of all the places in Paris. He smiled at his painting of their Roxanne; her painter, and her wandered had finally met. Somewhere, he hoped she was smiling; that big smile of hers… And he prayed that she would guide her Wanderer, how when he would look into the lonely sky, her twinkling lights would always keep him company.
Yup, he was jealous.