The Soprano

Lamarck Caulaincourt Metro

She moved to Paris because she loved nineteenth-century French composers, but they no longer walked the streets. Instead she was surrounded by hard-faced Parisians who didn’t speak Greek, and would not have spoken to her if they did. Though the smog in Athens had made her throat itch, she missed the sun. In Paris the sky sat low and pearly, like a Tupperware lid. She had no one to talk to, but every day she sang, and the silenced chatter purified her scales. Being a ghost herself–raw, invisible, and unmoored–made her still more grateful to the composers who consoled her. She took in air and let out music. She visited Bizet’s grave and thanked him, fervently, because his art had given her hers.

On the way home from Pere Lachaise, she didn’t even see the boy stepping onto her métro carriage. There were so many people–always so many people–and she was picturing the yellow score of Carmen and tapping the notes on her knee. The knife was at her throat before she saw his face. He said something–in French, she couldn’t understand–and in a pure instant she knew that she, too, would die by the knife.

She filled her lungs for a last aria; the song as instinctive as the breath and the adrenaline. Her voice soared through the carriage as she called to God in mother Greek.
” I am coming to you. I am coming home,” she sang. Kyrie. Looking into her killer’s eyes, she saw God, and raised her song. The music was outside her, and it wrapped her in peace. God’s face turned slack and grey. The train door opened. God dropped the knife, and ran.

The other passengers, the hard-faced Parisians who had stared ahead throughout her hymn, clapped and laughed like babies who’d been thrown and caught.

[Thanks to Nicolas for the bones of this story. Phone cards]

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