“I’m more of a sucker than a fucker,” remarks the impish woman standing beside me in the breakfast line.
It is my first encounter with this diminutive Parisian, out of whose heart-shaped mouth flow revelations that leave me reeling. “We have the same hair, darling,” she quips and darts a child-like hand toward my curls; save that my locks are an over-grown and sun-burnished brown, while hers, close cropped, are dyed a shade of fire engine. Half-aghast, half-disbelieving, I watch as that same little set of fingers makes a surreptitious dash beneath the flounces of her skirt and then reappear to dab a moistened substance across the soft flesh of her upper lip. “Got me!” she offers a conspiratorial grin. “Just reapplying my perfume.”
With those same fingers she picks at the health-conscious buffet. She lights a cigarette, and exhales a clipped recital of facts: polyamorous, polyglot, name: Bernadette (names have been changed); assumptions (“It’s so much easier for women than men to enjoy open love”) and hopes (“I just want to be worshipped, darling”). It’s 9 a.m. and I’m preoccupied with coffee. But another set of fingers tap my shoulder.
A slender wrist, a sculpted clavicle, a face that is sweet but unsmiling. “I just wanted to introduce myself, and tell you that it’s fine with me about you and Thomas.” Her name is Anna. She holds my eyes with such intensity that I feel I’ve immediately failed some register of earnestness. I’m distracted by her eyebrows: they’re enormous, sculptural, and dominate the contours of her thin, pretty face. “We don’t need words,” she continues. “It’s just important that we make contact.”