It would be hard to recount the next few hours. I was not thinking; not really feeling. I wandered around Paris on the same streets we had walked together yesterday and relived my months with Raven. I was too far gone to analyze. I simply watched a rerun in my mind, feeling again everything I had ever felt for her.
I came to two conclusions: she had never felt for me what I had felt for her, and I was not going to give up so easily. I also came to suspect that if I wanted to see her again, I should find Eric Sangøy.
I caught a bus to the hostel where Eric had been staying. The concierge remembered him. He had checked out three hours ago, accompanied by a beautiful, dark young woman. Her clothing? A tied off blouse and short pleated skirt. She was the kind one remembered clearly. He had no idea where they had been going.
The lounge of the hostel was nearly empty. It was almost time for the daily lockout; while the place was being cleaned, its occupants were not allowed inside. I asked around, and it seemed that everyone knew Eric. He had been friendly to everyone, and open about his plans. He would be going to Luisanne next. If I wanted to know more, there were two or three people he had been particularly close to. I should come back tonight, when everyone was here.
Before I left, I checked in for the night. Then I rode out to the campground. It was a tedious journey; a long walk to the station, a metro ride to the end of the line, a long wait and a longer bus ride to the edge of the city. I fidgeted in the seat and watched the rain slap at the bus window. The campground was a sea of mud, pebbled with soggy tents. Breaking camp in the rain was no fun. Packing Will’s sleeping bag was less fun. It still smelled of Raven.
I shouldered my pack and carried Will’s over my arm. I stood under the shelter, waiting for the bus back to the city. The rain came in slantwise with the wind and wet me to the knees. Half a dozen couples were waiting with me, holding close with soft, intimate voices cooing maddeningly behind me. I stared into the rain until the bus came.
Before I got on the Metro, I phoned Will at the consulate in Marseilles. He asked how Raven was.
“Gone,” I replied.
“I don’t know. She left me without warning. All I have is a note.”
“Did she say why she left or where she was going?”
“No. Not where she was going. She said why, but it didn’t make any sense to me.”
I could almost see his sad smile. He said, “Of course it wouldn’t make sense to you, Ian.”
“What does that mean?”
“Did you really think she would stay with you long? Come on, man. She was putting distance between you when you were here. It was only a matter of time.”
“You didn’t like her!” My voice sounded childish, even in my own ears.
“Actually, I liked her a lot. Besides being good looking, she was also a very interesting and independent person. Too independent for you.”
“That’s what she said in the note. I don’t understand; I never tried to dominate her.”
Will didn’t say anything. There is nothing like the hum of telephone silence to make you face the lies you are telling yourself. Finally, I said, “All right, so I dominate everybody. But that doesn’t make it hurt any less.” more tomorrow