Wednesday, 7 October 2009

In the midst of life - Slide-show-girl

It all started on a bench in a public park. I was in my mid-thirties and it was Summer.

Sitting on that bench, I was busy sorting out and inspecting color slides in order to put them in specific order for projection. A park bench is certainly not the best place to do this but I needed open air.

While doing this and fuzzing around with the slides a girl came and sat down near me and started to read a book. From time to time she stopped and looked into the distance and we came to talk. We talked a lot, probably more than an hour and before leaving I had an invitation for the next day to come to her place and show her my slides.

This I did - I mean the coming - but, as far I can remember, I never really showed her those slides. But I stayed there for the night and next morning at breakfast she told me her story.

Ten years ago she was going to be married. Everything was arranged, papers, the ceremonies at the town hall and in the church, dinner, everything. Three days before the fixed date her fiancé met her somewhere in town and told her that everything is off. No reason given, no explanation, just the statement, "I'll not see you again in this life" he told her.

Naturally, she tried this and that but to no avail. She never managed to find out what has happened and she had to face it alone.

This kind of broke her. For ten years her life was limited to her studio apartment, going out only for work and for buying food and other necessities. "What did you do all this time", I asked her. "Nothing, just sitting there or playing the piano for hours".

"Play something for me" I said, "Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, whatever you like. "No, she said, and then she added "I play only Dvorak". I asked why but there was no clear answer, as far as I remember.

During the week that followed we saw each other nearly every day. "You are the very first person that came here after my failed marriage", she told me. But she must have been ready for something else some time before. She had published an advertisement in a newspaper asking for someone ready to go with her to the USA for a months' holiday, on shared expenses. And she got a positive answer because there was a Dutchman ready to go with her. Departure next week.

"Don't worry, she told me, I'll be back in no time".

The first half of that month I was away, too, crossing Iceland with a bunch of backpackers. Coming home, I started waiting. At the appropriate time, probably a little too early, I made my first phone call. Nothing, not yet back. Some days later, I called again and was amazed to hear "no connection under this number". This same evening I went to her place: her name on the apartment was gone. Then I managed to talk to an old lady living next door. "Oh, she moved out some days ago."

She had vanished without leaving a trace. I was not broken but certainly shattered. I talked it over with some friends and she became "the slide-show-girl" whenever the subject was raised.

More than a year passed and one day, in an inner city street, I hear "Bonjour, Georges" : my slide-show-girl! She told me Part 2 of the story. During those holidays in the United State States they decided to live together and back in town she married right away. When I met her she was certainly six months pregnant.

Happy end.