“Bon soir, Elodie> You are a busy lady this evening, huh?”
Sarah looks up, startled to see a familiar face at the top of the stairs leading from the hotel above. She is still preoccupied with Gunther’s sudden appearance and departure.
She hadn’t expected him to be the onward courier> It had been a close shave, something that would have been too difficult to explain to her husband, to Gaston and all the other human jigsaw pieces in the puzzle of their cell in this tiny, too observant town. Far better that Gaston thinks of her as a whore than traitor, which she is not. There is a safety and a danger in the limited knowledge that they each possess.
“Gilles! How marvellous to see you!” she allows him to take her hand and kiss it, the old-fashioned greeting warming her heart.
Gilles clicks his fingers, nods to Gaston and leans forward, his face serious. “Be careful, Elodie, ma cherie. Do not allow so many men to meet you here. Old Madam Giroux has old ways, you know.” He raises his eyebrows and glances towards the bar where the patronne sits, crow-like in black, beady eyes missing nothing.
“I know, Gilles. But what else can I do> Where else can I go?”
“Your wine…. Monsieur.” Gaston slams two glasses and a bottle down on the table with such force that red wine fountains out of the bottle, splashing in Gille’s face, dripping down his forehead and splashing his mouth.
Gilles licks the wine from his lips and reaches out to grasp Gaston by the arm. He gets up from his chair, ready for an argument, but collapses to the floor, his fingers losing their grip on Gaston’s sleeve. He clutches his stomach, writhes in agony, then is still, grey-faced and dead
Sarah runs as Gaston lunges at her, missing her by inches. In her mind’s eye, the diners are frozen, statue-still, knives and forks paused in mid-air.
Now she is outside, in the middle of the dark, narrow, street. She knows she is a sitting duck. She feels eyes upon her, from the restaurant, from the houses, from the lone car parked just in the shadows.
Her hind-brain, the part supposedly trained to act automatically in time sof danger and stress, knows tha the car is out of pace, an anomaly, a threat.
She turns, realises her mistake. Her name is Elodie, Elodie, Elodie.
The man is poised in a shooting stance and she thins of the training back at HQ, far away and long ago. She feels the tension in the outstretched arms, the anticipation of the kickback as the pistol is fired. She sees the set of her husband’s shoulders back then, and silhouetted now.
She realises that love, ambition, resistance and war are a dangerous mix.
She realises that she has underestimated them all.
She is lying in the road, staring up at the stars. Orion is low in the sky, fleeing Scorpio rising, as he always will.
“I have been stung,” she thinks finally, and closes her eyes for eternity.
Here’s my latest entry to Magpie Tales. This story is the final in the trilogy, which follows on from my entry last week, and the week before, so please feel free to read themone first, or just read this in isolation.
I hope you enjoy it – and please do visit Magpie Tales for more poetry and prose!