Let’s Dance, #FridayFlash 7/6/2012 (Lisa and Philippe #5)

Lisa sighed and looked around the house.  It was clean, for once – amazingly so.  But with their sons, Gaston and Marc, visiting her parents in Pennsylvania, it was a lot easier to stay on top of things. Of course, when they returned, it would go back to normal, but that was okay too. She and Philippe had agreed the night before that neat was nice, but things had been too quiet lately. And then I had to snap at him this morning…

She locked the apartment and headed out, pulling her cart behind her. Lisa wanted to get to the marché before it got too busy, get what she needed for today so she could return and finish writing the story she’d been working on.

The streets were relatively quiet and she made good time. Lisa greeted the security guard, who swung the door open and held it so she could bring the cart in without banging it on the door. She waved to those she knew as she passed.

Bella, when are you going to leave Philippe and run away with me?” Fratello, one of the vendors at the corner spice stand, called out to her as she passed. Lisa exchanged smiles with Fratello’s long-suffering wife, Antonia.

“How do you put up with him?”

“Ah, we can’t all be lucky like you!”

“Hey!” Fratello gave her a look of mock hurt. “That’s not what you said to me last night!” He squeezed his wife in an enormous hug and she pretended to swat him.

Lisa laughed and kept going.  The speakers overhead kicked into life and she recognized the opening sounds of Aznavour’s “For Me, Formidable”.  She sang as she passed Stephane and Philippe’s stand:

                “You are the one, for me, for me, for me, formidable…”

Stephane looked up from where he was placing loaves in the case and grinned.

                “You are my love, very, very, very, véritable …”

From behind her, Philippe’s voice joined in.

“Et je voudrais pouvoir un jour enfin te le dire,
Te l’écrire
Dans la langue de Shakespeare…”

She turned toward her husband and he swung her around, dancing with her in time to the exuberant music. Around them, the marché was starting to wake up, vendors unpacking trucks and putting vegetables, meat and other products on display. The couple danced on, the smiles of those around them unnoticed, as Philippe continued singing alone.

Darling, I love you, love you, Darling, I want you … you are the one for me, for me, for me, formidable…”

He kissed her heartily as the song ended, but instead of walking back to help Stephane, he cupped her face in his hands, his expression serious.

“Philippe? I’m so sorry –”

“I love you so…” he interrupted, softly, hardly more than a whisper.

Lisa answered him silently, her love showing without a word. “Forgive me?”

“Of course. Need you ask?”

“Let’s always dance together.”

His eyes smiled back. “Always, ma chérie.” He winked. “I think it’s a good thing the boys are away.”

A moment later, Lisa moved down the aisle, cheeks pink, Philippe’s kiss on her lips, hugging his whispered promise to her heart.

[A/N: This is the continuation of “Cherries”, two Three-Word Wednesday pieces and “An afternoon with mon Papa”.  My hope is to write 3 to 5 more stories and create an e-book]

An afternoon with mon papa – #FridayFlash – 3/23/2012, Lisa and Philippe #4

[Author’s Note: This is a revisit to my “Cherries” universe, a follow up to this Flash piece.]

Lisa tiptoed toward the door.  Philippe looked up and smiled. “Don’t forget the milk, chérie!  Be careful driving.”

She waved her hands, and, too late, Philippe winced. “Sorry,” he mouthed.

Maman!” Her shoulders drooped.  Gaston came toddling around the corner at as full a speed as a eighteen-month-old could manage, and latched himself onto her legs.

Non, mon p’tit,” said a repentant Philippe as he scooped his son high in the air. “Maman allez.”

Non, papa.  Maman rester.”

“Don’t you love Papa?”

The little boy studied him solemnly for a moment and turned back to Lisa, arms outstretched. “Gaston allez!”

“Non, chéri.” She brushed his cheek, kissed his nose. “Have fun with Papa.” She exited as quickly as she could manage.

Gaston’s face puckered into a pout. He began sniffling, and it wasn’t long before he was crying.  Philippe futilely tried distracting his son.

Half an hour and nearly a whole box of toys later, Gaston was standing silently at the window, clutching the curtains and watching for Lisa’s car.  Philippe was stretched out on the floor trying not to fall asleep.  He propped himself on his elbows and watched the little boy compassionately.

He crawled over to the window and cuddled Gaston. “I miss Maman, too, when she goes.” His well-meant sympathy brought tears to the little one’s eyes, which ramped back up to full-fledged crying again.

Hé, p’tit. Maybe a song?”  He thought for a minute and began. “C’est la poulette grise qui pond dans l’église…” Gaston only got louder and Philippe stopped. “Ok, not a song.” He tilted his head to one side. “Although I must say I don’t think my voice is that bad.”

He rocked the little boy and thought. A book, of course! Forty-five minutes later, he had gone through Bonsoir Lune, half a dozen Golden Books and a toy catalog that had come in the mail that day. The little boy subsided into noisy sobs and Philippe felt like joining him.

“How about something to eat?” Gaston refused all offers, looking wistfully at the door where Lisa had disappeared.

Philippe walked the floor with his son, back and forth, and tried with no success to come up with a story of his own. Finally, he sat down on the couch and turned on the Habs, playing a rare afternoon game against Vancouver.  “Regardez, Gaston! Hockey!”  At that moment, Max Pacioretty finessed a shot past Schneider, who was spelling Luongo between the pipes, and the goal horn set Gaston off again.

Philippe slumped back in the sofa.  “Je me rends. I am a horrible father.” He gave Gaston a long, sad look, and the little boy quieted to hiccups.

***

Lisa sighed as she unlocked the door.  She loved her husband and adored her son, but sometimes she just had to get away for a bit.

As she closed the door behind her, Lisa froze in shock.  The room was a shambles, with toys and books scattered across the floor, the orange juice out on the counter, along with a banana, half a sandwich and a small pile of cookies.  The hockey game had given way to L’antichambre, and the sound was off.

“Philippe?” Lisa called quietly.

A small head popped up over the back of the couch. Gaston tried putting one finger to his lips and said, “Chut, Maman.” His little voice dropped to a whisper. “Papa dort.”

She came around the couch cautiously. Philippe was indeed asleep, Gaston’s favorite blanket partially covering his chest and the boy’s small pillow gently placed over his father’s face.

“Gaston aime Papa.” The little boy patted his father’s hand, crawled between Philippe and the back of the couch and carefully laid down next to him. Philippe stirred in his sleep and laid a gentle hand on his son’s head.

Lisa and Philippe #3, Three Word Wednesday, 9/28/2011

Cherish, Guarantee, Nausea – Thought I’d have some fun following up Cherries and this story

Lisa clenched her teeth tightly as the wave of nausea passed over her.  She glanced at the timer set on the bathroom sink and closed her eyes. Just five more minutes… Not that there’s any real doubt, is there?

Philippe peeked around the corner of the door, wary. Lisa’s temper had been a byword for the last week, and he didn’t want to set her off.

She smiled wanly. “It’s okay. I won’t snap your head off.”

He entered, sat down beside her on the side of the bathtub and handed her a mug of steaming hot licorice tea.

“Are you sure this will work?”

“Yes.” He gave her a sideways glance. “I guarantee it. I remember… Maman… Stephane.  It’ll help.”

She sipped slowly and he put his arm around her to pull her close.

“I love you, Philippe.”

“I know, ma belle. And I cherish you.”

The timer chimed. They both started, and then exchanged a long look.

“You look,” she said. “I can’t.”

Philippe stretched out one long arm and picked up the stick. “If there’s a line, yes?”

“Yes.”

A smile slowly spread across his face, like the sun dawning in the bathroom’s small window. He pulled her to him more tightly and kissed her on top of her head.  “So, what shall we name him?”

“Him?”

Lisa and Philippe #2, Three Word Wednesday, 9/7/2011

Erode, Heart, Observe – Three Word Wednesday, 9/7/2011

“Twenty years isn’t all that long.”

“It’s more than a lot of people get.” Stephane lifted three loaves of bread out of the oven on the peel, put them on the cooling rack and turned to look at his brother. “I can’t believe you’re walking away from something this good because it’s only going to last the rest of your life.” He shook his head and moved to the next oven. “Besides, she’ll probably outlive you.  So what are you worried about?”

Philippe stared at Stephane.  “Thank you.  I feel much better now.”

Stephane shrugged and grinned. “Well… you were the one who was crying doom.  I thought perhaps you’d like some company.” He observed his elder brother fondly, as Philippe carefully wrote birthday wishes on the cake he was decorating. “Look, mon frère, you have two choices as I see it.  Risk your heart – marry this lady you’ve been wooing all this time with tiny desserts and sweet words – or spend the next twenty years alone.”

“After Suzanne –“ Philippe stopped. He didn’t have to say any more.

His brother leaned back against the sink. “I know,” he said softly. “You locked your heart away, kept it safe from wind and weather, careful to never let time, life or love erode it.  And what has it gotten you?”

“Not hurt.” Philippe retorted, finishing the lettering with a deft flourish of the pastry bag full of frosting.

“And not living, either.  Not really.” He put up a hand to stop the older man. “And you know it.”

“Stephane, if I do it, if I ask her and she says ‘yes’, will you–?”

“Stand up with you? Need you ask?” The grin reappeared, wider than before.

“Then I will.” He met his brother’s eyes, nodded once and left.

Three Word Wednesday, 6/1/2011 – “Cherries”, Lisa & Philippe #1

Erratic, Luminous, Omen

Lisa loved the atmosphere of the charming, erratic street, populated with non-matching little stores, many of them in the same family for generations.  She passed the fromagerie and smiled at the elderly man who was placing cheeses in the window. As she approached the boulangerie/pâtisserie, she sighed.  Philippe, the owner of the shop, and a respected master baker and pâtissier, was leaning against the doorjamb, arms crossed, with a smile on his face.

“Bonjour, Lisa.” His luminous eyes sparkled with mischief.

Bonjour, Philippe.” She bit back a smile of her own and braced herself for the newest onslaught. “What is it today?”

“Just a little thing – a very little thing.” Philippe walked out to stand beside her on the sidewalk. He put an arm around her and pointed at the display.

Lisa peered at the assembled sweets. Sure enough, he’d paid attention to her slip of the tongue the week before. I just had to tell him I liked cherries. This week’s temptation was a cute, tiny cheesecake, covered with miniature cherries he had to have charmed out of one of the vendors at the marché.

She bent closer– it was a piece of artistry to look at, regardless of what it tasted like – and sighed again. “Philippe, you know how hard I worked to lose weight. I can’t give in and eat sweets again or I’ll get fat.” She puffed her cheeks out and held her arms away from her side for emphasis.

“Fat! One little tiny cheesecake is not going to make you fat.”  He shot her a sideways glance.

Lisa pondered for a moment. Just then, a man walked by wearing an HNIC t-shirt with a picture of Don Cherry on it.

Philippe saw her notice and leaned in. “That’s an omen, you know,” he said, sotto voce.

She smiled, and then chuckled and the two of them burst into laughter at the same time.

“I might have put “Don Cherry” and “omen” in the same sentence, but not that way.” They shared another laugh, and finally, she reached out to touch him gently on the arm. “Merci, Philippe, for thinking of me. I’ll take it.”

He led her back into the shop and carefully took the little delicacy from the window, placing it in a small box.

She took it from him. “Now I’ll have to do an extra workout, you know,” she said, teasing.

“No, you won’t.” He brushed a stray lock of hair from her forehead. “You’re perfect just the way you are.”