Fresh Air and Empty Streets
Paris sparkled like a cloth made of stars, as Felix sat, head in his hands, retching. Behind him, the glorious Sacré-Cœur watched over the city, as the night’s cocktail rushed through his stomach and out over the marble steps. A hum hung over Montmartre as hundreds of youth sat around the hill, cigarette smoke and revelry echoing up into the night sky. At times, the sound was punctuated by a beer bottle cascading down the steps and rolling to a stop, unbroken, on the cobbles at the bottom. Tourists sat side by side with like-minded locals, bonding over drinks bought off beer merchants who delivered straight to their thirsty feet. A thousand pinpricks of light drew the outline of a capital city far below. But Felix didn’t notice any of this.
He spat, his whole body aching from the strain. The exertion had exhausted him to the point that he felt a longing to sleep right here on these stairs, safe under the watchful domes of the basilica. An unseen car rumbled by on the cobbles, sounding in Felix’s mind like a far-off announcement of thunder. He knew a storm was coming – coming since he’d walked out of the house with his bag slung over his shoulder and had boarded that bus. It was brewing, every moment that he walked the streets of this city, increasing in intensity with every further second he spent away from home. He’d put cogs in motion that could now not be reversed, broken that which could now no longer be repaired. He rolled his head back on his shoulders, his closed eyes pointing skywards, and breathed out.