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Falling Awake

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“Where two raging fires meet together,
they do consume the thing that feeds their fury.” -- Taming of the Shrew, 83

“Um, well, excusez-moi, can Elle a le croque-monsieur sans le ham?”

“Je ne vous comprends pas. Le croque-monsieur?” My mother nods at the waiter as I continue to glare at her from across the table. Honestly, I just want the grilled cheese. She starts asking my brother what his favorite part of our trip has been so far. All he has to say is that his feet hurt from all the walking and that he likes the colors in our hotel room. I stare out the window at the glimmering Tour Eiffel and hope with all my heart that the waiter will get it right this time.

My plate comes and I throw up my arms in disgust. I hate ham. My mother encourages me to eat it and I begrudgingly tear little strips of un-hammed bread and cheese from the sides of my sandwich. I then refuse to order some pomme frites out of spite and begin to sip obnoxiously from my lemonade. Yet my mother knows to not yell at me in the middle of a restaurant; Instead she simply watches me as I my fingers do a tap dance around the mass of bread, ham, and cheese. After I salvage all of the acceptable food from my plate we leave, my slightly pink-faced mother leaving an unusually large stack of Euros on the white tablecloth.
As soon as we exit the restaurant she swoops down upon me and berates me for my lack of flexibility. She fumes all the way back to our hotel, my brother and I jogging behind her on travel-worn feet—our Birkenstocks swinging back and forth in our tiny hands. Later as I lie in my bed studying the blue and yellow-striped walls I feel a rumbling deep within my body. I try to sleep it off, but I stay awake all night waiting for the morning to greet me with a croissant, a palmier…anything. And yet at lunch the next day I try to order a grilled cheese again. But this time I order the French fries.





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