Andy’s Awakening © Brian L. Mellon
Andy Sweet didn’t always hate picturesque Paris with all its wonders. At one time, he held the city in awe and drank up the views along the beautiful La Seine River, the non-presse or laid-back attitude of the people who seemed more intent on lounging around drinking coffee than accomplishing anything of substance. The sidewalk cafes were home to many aspiring writers and philosophers, biding their time writing words drawn from Plato, Aristotle and of course Voltaire, Pascal and more recently – Sartre. “The dreams of youth” Andy thought.
There was the Eiffel Tower, a wrought iron lattice wonder whose symmetrical lines rose above the city skyline. The Arc Du Triomphe that honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. The Louvre, a historical monument and home to world renowned collections of artistic curiosities and of course the fine wines made from the many grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Pinot noir.
His favourite place though was the Les Deux Magots Café where he would enjoy a short tumbler of whiskey or cherished daiquiri, the drink of his much adored and favourite writer – Hemmingway. One of Andy’s most quoted lines when talking with strangers in the café was “We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other” from Hemmingway’s writing of A Movable Feast. It was where he met her.
But now, even Hemmingway had lost his literary luster and the wonders of Paris were just muted places that only reminded him of the loss of his first love, Alayna.
Andy Sweeting was a man of modest means, and an instructor of the Written Arts at the Paris School of Liberal Arts and Humanities. His friends would describe him as tall, friendly, outgoing, but average looking and a near perfectionist for details. He had once spent an entire weekend with a female grad-student, challenging her present paradigms and pushing them to a point that resulted in a written paper that would have made his idol Hemmingway proud. That's the sort of man he was.
Today, on the anniversary of Alayna’s passing, Andy walked the banks of La Seine River. He reflected on that fateful day and how he had screwed up, taking his eyes off of Alayna for only a short time – mere seconds. Long enough for her to slip on the wet rocks and fall into the spring time torrent of water that raced downstream. He played the part in his mind where he ran along the river, hoping she would be able to grasp a rock, some debris, anything just long enough that he could get to her and pull her to safety. That never happened and she was swept away from his sight. It was only later that the police found her and reported it as an accidental drowning and that they had found a note clutched in her hand, pressed close to her heart. He was devastated.
The once idyllic surroundings were now a painful reminder of love cut short and now a memory that he relieved over and over. As he walked along the river on this snowy spring day he saw something in the distance, or rather someone. It was the figure of Carla Ramsworth. Carla was also an instructor at the school and a close friend of his. Andy gulped. He was not prepared to see Carla today.
Andy forced a smile to his lips as Carla came closer. He could see the wonderful smile on her lips, so wonderfully red and full. He wanted to kiss her many times, but to betray his love would not happen, could never happen.
Carla gazed with affection at Andy and it was deafening. She said, in hushed tones, "I know why you’re here and I want to help, so please forgive me when I say that you cannot keep blaming yourself for the drowning. You did all you could."
“I could have went in after her. I am a good Swimmer.”
“Yes you could have Andy, and Drowned right along with her!” she had an incredulous look on her face. “The police said that anyone falling into the river that day would have been swept away as well. You would have died along with her.”
“A price” he yelled, then after a short pause, spoke more softly, “A price I would have paid to be with her. She went to the water’s edge over a stupid poem that I had written for her. Taken from her hands by a cruel wind. She died over a bunch of stupid words that came from me.” Andy stated, all the while staring at Carla
Carla could see his pained face so chose her words carefully. “They were not stupid. They were words that came from your heart. She knew that and went after your love, the love she found in those words. You did not fail to save her – you did that long before, you did it when won her heart. She died for knowing the glory of being loved by someone she held in higher regard than anyone else in this world. You beat yourself up and hide in your sorrow, while she is content with a few words on parchment!”
Andy looked away, staring at the river. He was struggling to control his emotions, but finally said "Carla, I don’t know how to let her go? How do I move on?” A tear slowly ran down his cheek and she desperately wanted to hold him close, but to do so would expose her feelings for him and it was too soon for him to know that he had her heart. She put a hand on his forearm and pondered his words.
Then it came to her in an instant! “Write her a note, tell her you still miss her, still love her and always will, but tell her you are letting her go so you can live here and not in a nightmare. Write it and at the place where she ran to collect your words, place it in the water and let your hurt be carried away on the stream and receive closure.”
Andy considered her words carefully and said “Perhaps you’re right.” Andy turned again towards Carla and their eyes locked. Her brunette hair, wavy from being wet from the melting snow, fell gracefully about her shoulders and encircled her face. She stared at him with her big green eyes and for a moment, all he could see was her. “God she’s beautiful” he said in silence.
He quickly collected his thoughts and reached into the inside pocket of his jacket and pulled out a note book. He opened it slowly, turning to a blank sheet. Andy looked blankly at the empty page for a moment, then his eyes widened slightly and he began to write. Carla sat on a nearby stone wall and quietly watched the snowfall. She was hopeful that this act of absolving himself would help him finally find peace of mind and move on. A small smile came to her lips as she was hoping his moving forward would include her.
Andy stopped writing and pulled the notes from the book. He looked at what he’d written for a few seconds and then folded the pages in two. He walked close to the water’s edge and placed then into the current. Carla got up from