Lost in translation: a short story in Paris

This short story was originally written for 52|250 but is now posted here as a part of the very cool Language/Place Blog Carnival. Thanks to Dorothee Lang for this wonderful venue, and to Jean Morris at tasting rhubarb, who hosted the fourth edition of the Language/Place Blog Carnival.

Here’s my story; theme is “another language, another place, another self.”

Tell me what you think…

“Dites moi ce que vous en pensez,” said the old woman. “Tell me what you think.”

The girl had been gazing at the canvas, an astonishing explosion of color amidst a grey background of tattered cardboard and greasy clothing and tired plastic bags, and she now sensed the woman’s gaze on her. What could she say? That she wanted to press her cheek into the cool ocean purples, put her lips to the milky sky and drink? That the sweep of greens and browns rising up with the sun’s golden fingers parting the trees just so hinted at the home she’d left and nearly forgotten? That the feathery texture of the grasses down low reminded her of the brush of her lover’s hand on her neck, that she was sure that the depression in those tall wildflowers was made by him and her, right there. And that the line of black birds off in the distance placed a thin, cold emptiness in her chest which had nothing to do with the November Parisian morning?

For a moment, she wondered if she could take this woman around the corner and buy her a hot tea, sit with her and talk about the color of warmth and love and home, of sorrow and loneliness and fear. She wanted to know how an old woman could capture everything that was in a girl’s heart in such a small square. Instead, she tossed a coin into the woman’s worn grey cap and muttered: “Oui, c’est bon.”

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6 Responses to Lost in translation: a short story in Paris

  1. Walter says:

    great vignette of a fleeting moment and how such a small incident in an everyday life can be so emotionally stirring and satisfying. I am sure the emotions got through to the artist, that is the feeling I am left with.

  2. Walter says:

    great vignette of a fleeting moment and how such a small incident in an everyday life can be so emotionally stirring and satisfying. I am sure the emotions got through to the artist, that is the feeling I am left with.

  3. Marcus Speh says:

    beautifully rendered like a still turned into a film sequence. i like the form here, the continuous questioning, so inner dialoguesque.

  4. gita8 says:

    Not everyone can take an old woman out for tea and talk about colours and warmth. Sometimes all you can do is say ” c’est bon,” and toss a coin. I like the truthfulness of this piece. Every day, something somewhere is lost in translation, isn’t it?

  5. c’est bon. your blog- yes. c’est bon (!)

  6. Lou says:

    I just drown in your words, like this girl in the painting.

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