Midnight in Paris.
I need some fresh air. There is a man in my condo. He smells of cigarettes and rancid cologne. The wind blows, the streetlights have the same color as the moon. What if the moon was just another streetlight?
I walk, I am a little cold. Three guys are leaning against the kiosk. They smoke and burst out laughing when I pass. In the underground that leads to the other part of my city, I am shaking. They say this is where most attacks happen.
Once I reach the St. Michael’s district, I stop in front of a candy store. This is where I buy makhroud on Sundays when my mother comes to visit me. I walk around, it’s midnight and the wind makes me an invisible cloak. I shiver, we are in May but it is cold. The billboards throw a purple lightning on the road. A beggar has just hailed me. What did he say?
My phone vibrates in my pocket. The beggar tries to touch my leg as I pass. I am still shaking. My phone continues to vibrate. I slowly pull it out. It’s the man in my house. I thought he was sleeping. He just realized I deserted the apartment. I send him a text message. He’s the type to call the police. I just need to walk.
Already one o’clock in the morning, the wind has calmed down.
I feel like I can smell the perfume of a thousand Parisian women as I walk.
But because of the confinement, Paris has emptied like a can of coke that a soccer player would have kicked. The bins here are no longer emptied. The garbage collectors are on strike since yesterday, I had forgotten. I walk, I pass in front of Notre Dame, I go towards Châtelet.
It’s been more than a year since the cathedral burned down. So why am I seeing an imaginary fire? My thoughts are clouded like a storm. I take out my walkman. I put on some Latin music. There are two beggars trying to warm up by sharing a glass of wine. I give them some coins, they ask me what a young woman is doing outside.
Two o’clock in the morning, in Châtelet.
Drug dealers are having a field day. There is new graffiti on the walls. My phone stopped vibrating. He must have fallen asleep. Some teenagers pass me on their bikes. I look up to the sky. I see the moon. Instinctively, I shield my chest.
My sweatshirt is red, but the night has masked all the colors. I protect my face from the cold, but something grazes my lip. A dead leaf, probably. The trees are dancing. It looks like a slow prayer to the moon.
I look up again, pulling the hood of my sweatshirt down over my head. It looks like the star is winking at me. But it’s probably a thick cloud that has slipped past its orbit.
Three o’clock in the morning.
I walk along the quays of the Seine with my secret. I fell in love with the reflection of a man’s smile on the moon. It has been three months since it lasts. I pray that my boyfriend doesn’t notice it and when midnight comes, I leave our apartment. Most of the time he is asleep. He doesn’t notice my escape. I take nothing with me but my racing heart.
I am in love with an idea, a dream that burns my eyelids. Every time a thought gnaws at me, I confide in the moon, looking into the white of her eye. Its pearly glance envelops me. Sometimes, I climb the fine barriers of the Luxembourg garden.
Under the amused glance of the statues, I seek a quiet corner. And when I am sure that nobody comes, I lie down. I undress while looking to the right and to the left. I uncover my shoulders. I put my scarf and my sweater next to my tights.
And it is thus, my dress gone up well above my knees, that I get ready to assuage my secret passion. My eyes plunged in the darkness look for him. And once I have the moon in my sights, I smile. My shoulders tremble. And I let myself be overwhelmed.
The wind slips inside my dress and pulls it up again. My skin shivers. The grass shakes under my back.
Cars fly like rockets around the gates of the Luxembourg Gardens. A beam of light searches for vagrants near my half-naked body. But I do not get up. I remain lying down, without any policeman discovering me. I make love to the moon.
My eyelids crinkle slightly. My eyes whiten from imagining him on me. The moon seems more beautiful than ever. It shines with a thousand fires. Its brilliance sparks on the benches and the children’s games of the park.
It is four in the morning now.
The moon enchants my body. I am bewitched, caught by its iridescent glance. My body trembles more and more with desire. I imagine that the moon is this man whose smile I saw one day, who I love, this smile which does not leave me any more.
The policemen have gone home. The beggars have fallen asleep. There is only me behind the grove, in the Luxembourg garden. I smile and the moon flashes. Is it a cloud or the truth? Is the moon really a man ? Am I becoming crazy, for I have been looking for him for months without finding him?
It is five o’clock in the morning, I am soaked with desire.
In an ultimate spasm, looking at the sky, the orgasm folds my body in two. I remain prostrate, exhausted, soaked on the lawn, until the first lights of the day. I close my eyes. My legs are scratched by the solid ground and the wind awakes me gradually.
I get up.
It is six o’clock now. My dress is soiled. I look at the sky. The man I am looking for in the sky has disappeared.
The clouds take again possession of the dome above my dishevelled locks. The night has evacuated Paris. It fled like me last night. I return, my shoes in the hand, to my apartment; it does not matter what the other man will say.
Love deserves to be damned for it. Passion deserves all the madness in our souls.
And I have fallen in love with the moon. When midnight sounds, I escape in the Haussmannian boulevards. I cross Paris. I look for the quietest garden. And out of sight, I make love to the man I love. And the moon looks at us. Or am I only making love to the moon?
It is a dream that I make every night, since I fall in love with a reflection in the dark…