Playing Stories — Chapter 34: Telstar

Chapter 34: Telstar
from a 1962 single by the Tornados
slipped under Quentin’s door, 02:24, 2 July 2019

(from the diaries of Thomas Evenham)

31 August 2018
First day in Paris, and to be honest it’s so much better than I expected it to be — the views are just brilliant over here! So much of it is like what you see in the movies, with the boulevards so straight and the buildings all around it just looking magnificent. It’s just so quaint! Yeah, there are some things that I don’t like — it turns out that the streets in Paris are really as filthy as some of those blogs I’d read promised they’d be, and instead of right now there’s a cat on heat underneath the window. But hell, anything for Paris, right?

I seriously thought we weren’t going to get here before lunchtime: the train was held up for ages and there was some problem with my passport over at St. Pancras. (The Brexit saga continues…) Anyway, at least it was all sorted out in the end and I read a bit of Gillian Flynn on the train.

Meeting Morgan on the train: God, that was unexpected. I wonder why she’s heading off to Paris this time of year? She wasn’t saying a lot when I asked her about it, she only mumbled something about going to Geneva and then she did a runner. Even when she came back and saved me from this angry Frenchman when I came here she was pretty mum on things. I guess I really shouldn’t be surprised that she’s still doing this kind of disappearing act: she does this all the time, still scared of talking to all of us — I mean, she’s pretty evasive and stuff, but surely she doesn’t have to be so scared of me, I’ve known her for ages and it’s not like we’ve done her any harm since uni… anyway. Maybe she’s here just for a holiday or to meet up with Laura, she said that she was in town and maybe they’d get to see each other. Bailed after a bit… just like her, I guess.

Though… actually, I wonder about that. Like we were talking before I put down my stuff at the hostel, I told her that I wanted to explore on my own for a bit, and she looked like she was gonna ask me if I needed company. But she said no and turned away. Maybe she does want to hang out after all — I don’t know, maybe I could use the company. Kind of missing her, and it’d be nice to show her — I mean, have someone show me around Paris. She’s the expert, not me, obviously.

Went to a lot of stuff today though, despite the late start. I went to Montmartre because Layla dragged me to a screening of Amelie once — God knows why I was expecting so much out of that, it’s just a movie — and then went down the Canal St-Martin. Got lost a bit, but this time I remembered to use my French — all that stuff from school’s proving useful, finally — and got to the Pompidou Centre and managed a quick walk through before it closed. They say that Paris syndrome doesn’t set in for another couple of days, but I mean, I can’t really see how it’s going to be getting through. Maybe they’ve just had a bit too much to drink or something, how can anything bad happen to people here?

Wonder how Dad’s doing… didn’t know that he’d still be battling it out with Mum, he clearly doesn’t need the house anymore now that he’s moved in with Alice. Old people, they’re petty sometimes… need to call him sooner or later though, otherwise we’ve got a huge fight and he’ll be asking me why I didn’t call or something like that.

Oh there was one thing that I thought about a lot: we were gonna go to the Eiffel Tower first thing after arriving at M’s place, but she said that nobody wants to see the Tower at the day when they can see it at night. And I needed to run around town to get my snaps for Layla anyway (always good to keep up a friendship with people you aren’t dating anymore, isn’t it) and I thought she needed some me time anyway, her and Laura, so we only met up back for dinner — she took me to this café on the Left Bank, really good chops, though she kept on staring at this spot in the river like she was expecting it to rise or something — and then we went to the Champ de Mars and joined the queue. I feel so stupid at times… I pointed at a sign that said “les escaliers” and asked her if we should join that, and she took one look at the sign and smirked. “If you want to hike up so many steps, then be my guest, but I’m taking the lift up to the top.” Should have remembered that that’s French for “stairs”.

“I don’t even know what I’d do without you,” I told her. She didn’t say anything, but I think I might have seen her smile, it’s a thin smile that comes and goes so quickly but it’s there. Rare thing to see her smile… I don’t think I’ve seen her do it all day…

Anyway, so we got to the second floor — I didn’t want to go further because it was getting cold and I’d forgotten to bring my jacket up — and we got there just as the Sun was setting, the rain had been coming and going a bit but it was perfect when we got up there. The sun was just sinking behind the horizon and I could see the lights slowly going on in the town below us… and gosh, there was a bit of drama just as it was going completely dark! Some girl suddenly jumped over the railings and some of us tourists were screaming, but then she floated down so slowly down to the ground. We were clapping our hands off after that — I mean, I shouldn’t be surprised cause Mrs. Ericsson at number 4 does that everyday but still, it felt different this time. It felt, you know, more performative. I shot so many pictures that my phone almost ran out of space, really. “It looks a lot like what you do yourself,” I told Morgan. Her only response? “Okay.”

Thinking back on it, it probably bothered me a little more than it should. Even when she was with friends, couldn’t she lighten up a little? It was a bit strange to have her be so unenthusiastic, but anyway then the Tower lit up and we were all going “whoa”, so it slipped from my mind. But the most amazing bit? When we went across to the Trocadero Palace to look at it. It was sparkling, it was sparkling amazingly like you see in them movies. It was like a thousand diamonds, sparkling in the sky, and it was absolutely amazing against that deep blue sky. I don’t think I’ve seen anything more pretty — and then I used up the rest of my phone memory. Layla will be pleased, won’t she.

God. I guess I still miss Layla. A bit. It’s normal, isn’t it? We were so good together, and then she and I fell apart. Not to worry, we need to move on slowly, it’s only been a couple of weeks and I don’t think that we can get rid of our feelings this quickly. We might even get back together, and I’ll take her here, see all the shining stuff that’s going on over here. How can she miss this for the world…

Well, that’s not entirely true. To be honest it was fine, sitting on the steps of the Trocadero looking at the Eiffel, but it wasn’t really the same without an enthusiastic friend by your side, you know? Morgan was there, but she said she’d seen it a thousand times and she didn’t really look enthusiastic about everything. It’s the Eiffel Tower at night! She knows the place like the back of her hand, that’s true, but then you don’t get used to these things do you? “I’m sorry if I’m not being very responsive today… it’s just been a long time and I’ve been thinking about some work things. It’ll pass, I hope.” Poor her… I’d forgotten about the incident at the Globe, but then again I guess these things will happen, won’t they? I looked at her and tried to smile. She wasn’t taking it, though.

Will have to phone Layla when she’s up, first thing in the morning. She’s going to be so jealous when she hears of this. Not that I want to make her jealous, you know. Just… peace of mind.

Well, look who’s talking, man who didn’t really get to repairing his café for so long.

I couldn’t sleep. Just too much happening these days and I can’t concentrate on sleeping enough. How do people do these things? Maybe we can have an easier day tomorrow…


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