by Miruna Ilie

“The air in the room was impregnated with a strong tobacco smell, slowly flowing from their cigarettes. Eight French women, around a large table, playing cards. You could hear glasses of wine and gin and tonic passing around or clinking. But above all, you could hear their controversial conversations and heartful laughter. Watching them, listening to their adventurous stories while quietly sitting in a corner of the room was a delight. I had never been one to get involved in the conversation. But I had always found studying people appealing.

‘That one time in Venice when we walked the streets barefoot at 4 in the morning to get back to our hotel after dancing the night away, do you remember?’ one of them said, looking at another. Her pale face was only contoured by her glossy red lips. You could barely tell where her black eyes were looking in the dimly lit room. But those who knew the story were already waiting for the other’s response. She smiled back and nodded. ‘Nothing like Venice on a summer night,’ she said.

I don’t think I had ever realized the true charm of the French women before that night. Their nonchalance, their way with words, their charisma, their overall breathtaking presence. All these finishing touches glorifying their existence. I could watch them talk non-sense for hours. They had this ability to transport one into that story. They would describe everything in the last insignificant detail.

And then they would talk about men. One knew that once their conversation targeted a male, hours could pass without even realizing. They would talk about him, his family, his wife, his job, his car, his house and his bank account. They would not cease until they studied every tiny facet of his life. And they would not avoid the classic gossip session, not at all. Rumors, scandals, stories, anything. And then they would congratulate themselves for playing men, for enjoying this game of life.

Although I was in the room, my presence went unobserved for the better part of the night. Their own lives and conversations were obviously superior to my very own. I enjoyed this anonymity. I did not want to become the target of their next session. And they would not even give an impression of curiosity, let alone ask me anything. Anyway, I was only part of this sumptuous gathering to accompany a friend. My French was way too rusty for me to actually utter some words. So, I just preferred to enjoy the show from the sidelines.

Eventually, the card game was over, the wine bottles empty and the ashtray full. It was finally time for the evening to come to an end. Taxi orders were being made, fur coats buttoned, and fancy clutches closed. I told my dear friend we should rather walk back. We would go to her house and I would then be on my way home. The famous ‘bises’ were exchanged and I think that was when they remembered me. ‘You should join us again next week, it was a true pleasure,’ our host for the night said. ‘I have to say the pleasure was mine’ I replied thinking that coming back a second time would probably be a mistake.

It was already well past midnight on a freezing February night, so walking down the empty roads was not a bliss. My friend, still in the disposition for conversation, kept talking about all these remarkable things I should start doing and all these seemingly important people I could meet if I kept coming to their gatherings. But for once, I was not listening. French women are great at many things, but I had just realized that offering life advice was not one of them.”

Hello everyone and welcome back to #alexjostories! Today I have the first short story sent by one of the readers. This story was written by Miruna. She is currently a student in Amsterdam, studying Communication. I know Miruna since we were seven years old and she has been passionate about writing for a long time. She writes really good short stories and also poems. I don’t say all of this because she is my friend. I hope she will let me post more things that she writes or has previously written. This is a really good story and it is really relatable, really glamorous. 

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