La Pescadou, Castres.
He lifted his gaze from the solitary plate and stared across the table. He remembered a girl.
Dark eyes. Eyes that harboured a hundred secrets. And, yes, even more promises. And that smile.
The sun shone through the small breach in the curtains. He remembered a time when it used to illuminate her face.
Dust motes spiralled above the table, and the faintest twitch briefly etched a smile on his face.
The table. She had bought it at a church auction and spent a month refurbishing it. She worked in the garage and kept the door closed, forbidding him entry. Even the car was banned. She made him promise not to look until it was finished. He promised.
Every night, before bed, she would enter the cottage, her hair full of sawdust, and a self-satisfied look on her face. “Not yet,” she would exclaim. And her eyes!
When she had finished, it was brought into the kitchen and pushed up against the window.
The whole cottage smelled of varnish.
He had smiled and rubbed his hand along its surface. It felt like silk.
“It feels like you,” he had said. “Shiny. And warm.”
She grinned. “No. It’s like you. Smooth. And hard.” She laughed and kissed him.
He remembered another table on a pavement outside a café in Castres. He remembered croissants and coffee. He remembered a girl.
“Bonjour. Je m’appelle, Paul.”
“Ah, oui? She smiled, then said, ‘’Je pense que je suis votre destin.”