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A Secret Trip to Villa Bella

THE twisted branches of the tree, bare of all their leaves, were like a mind devoid of thoughts. I was sure that my mind, like that tree, twisted and bare, stood frozen in time.

I began to feel as if I were a thief of sorts, like I had to hide what I was doing. I glanced around furtively, as if at any moment, someone might call out an alarm and I'd be captured.

No one came after me though, so I continued on like a common burglar, secretly taking out the key and opening the door to my room. I stepped lightly, trying hard not to make a sound.

I pulled back the covers from the bed in fright and climbed in ...

Once I had calmed down a bit, I slipped out of bed and once I had closed the door, the thief I had been became a detective. My eyes moved from east to west in search of my target.

The person in my dreams, however, didn't appear.

The next morning, I wandered about the hotel, but noticed nothing out of the ordinary.

By noon I was feeling terrible, so I went alone to Bougival.

I've done my share of traveling and seen more than a few poetically beautiful scenes, but nothing can compare to the tranquil beauty of this tiny village nestled at the foot of a mountain.

I checked into an old inn steeped in ancient history. It's said to have been named after a certain widow and was quite well known in nineteenth-century upper class Paris society. There was a garden set up high from which one had a spectacular purview of the lands below. To the left lay the Marly Channel; to the right a series of rolling hills. On the plains flowed a tiny, silvery river. The waters seemed to stop right there and like ripples of satin, and they lapped at the banks on both sides. Two tall poplar trees swayed with the wind; the willows whispered softly, as if they were quietly singing the river to sleep with a lullaby. In the distance, Paris was shrouded in fog.

Paris was a heartbreaker.

As I looked out over the city, my eyes filled with tears. Maybe, just maybe, I was doomed to a world of dreams; Graham could not possibly come back to life.

On day three, having achieved absolutely nothing, I checked out from the hotel, angrily grabbed my luggage, and got in a taxi bound for the airport.

My lover in heaven hadn't honored his promise to "meet again." I was leaving this romantic city hopeless and depressed. My mind was a complete blank. Once my plane landed in Toronto, would life return to normal? Would my nights finally be free of the endless dreams that haunted me?

Just as the taxi was nearing the Paris airport, I suddenly cried out: "Oh God!" For a moment, I seemed to lose complete control and begged the driver to turn back, to return to Villa Bella.

"Miss, did you forget something? Something valuable?" The driver turned his head in my direction and asked kindly.

"Yes, yes! Very valuable, extremely valuable ..." I responded half-heartedly. What could possibly be more important than finding my lost lover?

(To be continued next week)


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