Tuesday 23 April 2024

Wind of Change by Tony Domaille, cognac

 Paris was having a mini hurricane in April. The wind blew my umbrella inside out and I caught a glimpse of my drenched self in a shop window. It was not what I’d pictured for my city break.

            Tossing the wrecked umbrella into a bin I stood, buffeted by wind and rain on a Paris Rue, wondering what I’d done to deserve this, when a voice called, ‘Hey, you!’

            ‘Me?’ I squinted through the rain at a man poking his head out of a café door.

            ‘Yeah, you. Stupid Englishman. You come in here.’

            I felt torn. I could see the café looked warm and dry but felt that honour dictated I should decline the rude offer.

            ‘How do you know I’m English?’ I called back.

            The man rolled his eyes. ‘You see any French people out in this weather?’

            I looked around. Everyone else had long since run for shelter so I thought I might as well go where I’d been invited.

            ‘Thank you for your kindness,’ I said.

            He shrugged. ‘Kindness? If you died in the street, it’s bad for business, you know? Do you want a very expensive coffee?’

            ‘Do you have any inexpensive coffee?’


He went behind his counter, and I looked around. Two old men sat playing chess, while at the back of the tabled area sat a girl on her own. She didn’t look up, but one of the old men did.

            ‘Anglais?’ He said.

            I nodded. ‘Oui.’

            The old man said, ‘Shit for brains.’

            ‘Ah, you speak English,’ I nodded, politely, and then the café owner brought my coffee and told me, ‘He doesn’t speak English, he just knows the English. Ten Euros.’

            I looked at the tiny coffee. ‘Ten?’

            ‘I told you it was expensive.’

            ‘You did.’

            ‘Two for eighteen. Have another and you save ten per cent,’ he said and scooted away.

            ‘Pardon,’ said a soft French, female voice, and I looked up from my coffee. It was the girl from the back of the café.


            She smiled. ‘Je suis Yvette. I apologise for my father and my grandfather.’

            I looked blank.

            ‘My father overcharged you. And the old man is so rude, so again, pardon…sorry.’

            ‘Can I get you a coffee?’ I asked. ‘I need to buy another to get the discount.’

            The girl smiled. ‘You don’t need to buy.’  Then she called to her father, ‘Papa, deux cafés.’

            Her father answered in French, I could easily translate. He was wholly unimpressed that his daughter was going to sit with the stupid Englishman and give him free coffee.

            ‘So,’ she said, ‘tell me about yourself.’

            I frowned. ‘Really?’

            ‘You have coffee, you have to wait until the storm is over…’

            ‘Okay,’ I shrugged, and started to talk.

I’d never believed you could meet someone and feel like you have known them forever, but Yvette turned that on its head. Time flew and I felt lucky to be sitting opposite the beautiful girl with the dark hair that framed her smiling face. Could I push my luck and ask her if she would see me again?

            But before I could find the words, the café owner appeared and said, ‘Time to go, Englishman.’

            I realised my clothes had dried. Outside the storm was over and the streetlamps threw coloured reflections in the puddles.

            ‘Papa?’ said Yvette.

            ‘I’m closing.’

            The evening was over. Yvette shrugged, kissed me on both cheeks and told me she’d enjoyed talking. I should have asked to see her again, but the words wouldn’t come, and then I was out on the lonely walk back to my hotel.

            The next morning the sun was shining in a cloudless sky, but I felt miserable. Why hadn’t I asked to see Yvette again. I sighed. I had met the girl of my dreams, but she would only ever be a dream.

            I stepped out of the hotel onto the already warm street. There was sunshine to enjoy so I would see the sights, drink some wine, and think about what might have been.

            ‘Bonjour, Philip,’ the voice came from behind me, and my heart quickened as I turned.


            She smiled. ‘Would you like to spend time with me?’

            For a moment I was lost for words, but the ones I found were heartfelt. ‘I really would,’ I said, then she took my hand and we started to stroll along the boulevard into a new future.

            And that, children, is how I met your mother.

 About the author

 Tony Domaille writes primarily for the stage, and his credits include winning the Derek Jacobi Award for New Playwriting in 2023. He has had stories published in a number of anthologies, as well as magazines such as The People’s Friend, Your Cat, Scribble and Café Lit.


Did you enjoy the story? Would you like to shout us a coffee? Half of what you pay goes to the writers and half towards supporting the project (web site maintenance, preparing the next Best of book etc.)

1 comment: