Photo Prompt: The Kiss by the Hotel de Ville, by Robert Doisneau
I sit at my usual table by the sidewalk, facing the Hotel De Ville. I drink my usual coffee, and take slowly paced bites of my usual croissant. People pass in their usual way, silent beside the street filled with noisy motor cars. All is as usual.
Then, it is not.
A couple appears. They are young, considerably younger than I. Pretty, but still blending with the stream of pedestrians. In front of the table beside mine, he stops. His arm is around her waist, so she stops too. He moves his arm to her shoulders, drawing her into his side as he dips his head toward her. Her graceful neck stretches, turns to match him. His lips meet hers, urgent and sincere. It is beautiful.
|"The Kiss by the Hotel de Ville" by Robert Doisneau, 1950|
My hand trembles around the porcelain coffee cup. The only thought in my mind slips through my lips in a whisper, "How long is it since I've been kissed like that? Have I ever?"
A memory flashes like a film reel. Yes, I have.
It is night, more than ten years ago. We walk beside the Seine. There is space between us, and then there is not. He takes my hand, pulls me in, and kisses me for the first time - the only time - for he is my friend and nothing more. His kiss is earnest. I feel his fingers tighten with mine.
I hear his voice in my head and I close my eyes to listen.
"I needed to do that," he says.
But I am too stunned to speak.
"Should I apologize?"
"No," I manage.
My fingertips rest on my lips, although I do not remember lifting my hand there. Every emotion, every sensation, returns to me, in the aftermath of those strangers' kiss. How had I forgotten?
No, I did not forget, but I had not remembered either.
I lift my coffee for a drink, my hands no longer shaking. A smile teases at my lips. I reckon it is a match for the smile the woman on the sidewalk wore after being kissed like that, after being kissed like I have been before.
Let's get back to basics, my friends. Specifically, the alphabet. I'll be writing a series of flash fiction pieces off of one word prompts, from A to Z. Enjoy! And if a word comes to mind for any upcoming letter, please make your suggestion and I'll consider it for a prompt.