Much more than just Paris by Mário Santos


Much more than just Paris

At this moment right now, I’m walking through the endless corridor towards Gate 10, to catch Flight 4-2-7 to Paris. I can feel the trolley crawling behind me, the noise of the wheels as if it were a mechanism running inside my head. And I genuinely believe that I must have the saddest face in the world.

At this moment right now, I feel like I’m going to cry. I’m walking with slow, halfhearted steps. I want badly to be inside that plane but, at the same time, I’m not sure if this trip is going to help me. I suppose that’s what happens when the purpose of the journey is to run away from something. That’s what is happening to me. I travel just to run away from a memory. And that memory has a name: Jorge. It could be a love story that came to an end, but it’s not. It never was a story. It never had time to be something. I never gave it the chance to become something. Jorge is just a man who was in love with me. Two years in a row trying to win me over, without giving up, despite all my rejections. I never gave him a chance because Jorge was Jorge. I always told him we were just friends and nothing more than that. I made it crystal clear to him. I always had the belief that my next steady boyfriend would be a Prince Charming, like in a fairytale. My Prince Charming would come, not riding a white horse, but driving a top-of-the-range convertible that need not even be white. He should have the wild and rebellious look that I so much admire in movie actors. Jorge was a middle-range kind of guy, he never was my type. To be honest, I never considered him a man. During the two years, he was trying to win me, I had occasional affairs that I never bothered to hide from him, even though I knew I was hurting his feelings. It was sadistic of me. It was sick, I must confess. The truth is that I really liked to hurt him. Jorge was not a wild and rebellious type of man. There was no spark between us. His ride was a gray Fiat Punto and he was an accountant. The only thing that was special about him was that he loved me. He was crazy about me. But it was too late by the time I realized that life is not a movie. And I only realized that when I met his girlfriend. He gave up on me after two hard years, and now he is dating a girl called Cristina. And what’s more annoying is that she’s a good-looking girl. What other man will try to win me over for two years in a row? Two years without giving up. I just opened my eyes when I saw them together, holding tight to each other, both happy, both in love. And I, realizing too late that it could have been me receiving all that tenderness. It could have been me in the gray Fiat Punto, by his side, by the side of a man who would never hurt me and was crazy about me. Now, it’s too late. Now, I’m aware of what I’ve lost, of what I threw away.


At this moment right now, I’m on the crowded bus that will take me to the plane. At this moment right now, I’m already inside the plane. I’m already sitting, and I feel like crying. A flight attendant asks me if everything is all right. I say “Yes” to her, with a fake smile on my lips. The flight is delayed, and I want desperately to get out of here. I want to leave Lisbon and go to Paris, though I’m not sure about that. I’m not sure about anything. The video with the safety procedures is taking too long, and I feel that I’m going to explode in tears.

At this moment right now, we’ve been flying for an hour and ten minutes. The commander’s poorly tuned voice is announcing the Pyrenees down there and apologizing for the turbulence. The man that is sitting by my side is not Jorge. He is a stranger who feels enough confidence to start chatting with me, mentioning something about the turbulence. Then the usual questions: What am I going to do in Paris? Business or pleasure? He is a fat guy with an executive style. I tell him that I’m going to meet a cousin, and he feels even more comfortable to keep chatting, now telling me what he is going to do in Paris.

Two hours of flight have passed. I apologize to the fat executive guy by my side, who is asking me if I’m married or have a boyfriend, and I just tell him that I need to rest. I pull the seat back, try to be comfortable, and close my eyes. I pretend to sleep, but what I really want to do is cry.

Three hours and twenty minutes in the air. We are about to arrive at the City of Lights. The commander is announcing the landing in a poor English.

We are already at Orly airport. Everyone starts rushing to collect their suitcases. I’m still sitting, waiting for Paris. Not just waiting but hoping that Paris will be much more than Paris. Hoping that Paris will be much more than the magnificence of the Champs Elysées. Much more than the Seine and all its potters, all its street artists, and all its bridges. Hoping for Paris to be much more than the Louvre’s long corridors. Much more than its beautiful quartiers with that bittersweet odor filling the air. Much more than the majestic Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe. Much more than the colored tulips, the stunning shops and the ballet shows. Much more than the delightful Croque Monsieur sold next to the Cathedral. Much more than the trees and the statues of the Luxembourg Gardens. Much more than the operas of Versailles. Much more than the splendid Conciergerie. Much more than the haute couture boutiques and the jewelers of the town of Vendôme along the river Loir. Much more than all the peace and all the tranquility of the Royal Gardens. My heartbreak is immeasurable; my loss is huge, so Paris must be much more than just Paris.

It’s cloudy. A few sunbeams passing through the clouds give the effect of dawn in the city, a dawning tone despite the late hour. For me, there is just one last hope left. A hope that to wipe away this memory, Paris will be more, much more, than just Paris.



Mário Santos lives in Lisbon, Portugal. Coming from languages and arts but passionate for the new technologies, he writes his first novel, A Máquina não gosta de gatos, published in 2015 in Portugal. His short stories and poetry have been published in The Opiate Magazine, The Fictional Café, The Tiger Moth Review, Nightingale and Sparrow, and others.

Image credit: Cyril Mazarin / Unsplash 


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