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Niche

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Trotting along the banks of The Seine, she called out the young man about to close his book niche. He heard her, and paused for a moment, considering whether to finish up, or to open the cart and let her browse. She was young and pretty, obviously not a Parisian, or even a native French speaker; in fact she was probably not European.

Before he had thought about what he was doing, the book niche was open and she was approaching more slowly. She caught her breath, and thanked him in fumbled French. The river was catching the light of the sunset, and dancing on the undersides of the bridges. He could imagine this girl standing over a rail, with the same patterns dancing across her tan skin and blonde hair.

Paris on a summer Sunday evening in the fifteenth arrondissement was a lonely time of day. The niche was strategically placed far enough from the Tour Eiffel that the tourists wouldn't just pass him by, but close enough to attract stragglers or scholarly types. This particular girl seemed to be browsing his books on romance, going for lighter reads that seemed like they would have easy vocabulary.

He watched her intently, although she took no notice of him. His niche was a metal car on wheels, painted blue. The gold sunlight made it seem like a piece of copper, just starting to show a patina. The sidewalk was bathed in color as the sun slipped behind a tall building, casting long shadows.

The girl picked up a book, and brought it to him. With slow and careful intent, she asked him how much it cost. When he answered, she pulled a little pouch out of her pocket and searched for the ten euros. While she was looking, he thought he recognized something in her captivated face.

Perhaps she was one of the girls he met while studying abroad? Perhaps she had fallen hopelessly in love, and come to Paris in search of him. Perhaps she didn't know she was right at his very own book niche, handing him money for a little romance novel. Perhaps she was walking away now to test him, to see if he would stop her. Perhaps she would turn around if he didn't? Then come to him, and promise beautiful things and they would whisper sweet nothings to each other until they grew old. She was getting farther away now. The sun was washing her golden hair, her skin was bathed in the light.

Perhaps she would turn around now?

She didn't




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