Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Six-thirty Sleeper to Paris

As promised, here's an excerpt from one of the stories I've been working on - "Six-thirty Sleeper to Paris". This is a totally new scene to the story since it when through the fishtank. More accurately, this scene was originally a single paragraph.

An announcement interrupted them. Dinner was about to be served to first class passengers in the dining car. Harry looked at his watch. It was seven-thirty. Where had the last hour gone? He asked Celine to join him for dinner. She eagerly agreed. They continued to talk over the meal. Harry was having a lovely time. Not only was Celine a stunning looking woman, but she was great company too. Dinner lasted for almost two hours. By the time they returned to their cabin, it was almost half-past nine.

But as you can see, it's a lot more than that now. I like it because it shows us a bit more of Celine's character, but also because it ties in directly with the new ending. Enjoy.
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An announcement interrupted them. Dinner was about to be served to first class passengers in the dining car. Harry looked at his watch. It was seven-thirty. Where had the last hour gone?

He looked at Céline. “Join me for dinner? My treat.”

“It is being my pleasure, ‘Arry.” She smiled—a wide smile that could have illuminated the Eiffel Tower.

When they were seated in the dining car, they ordered food and wine from the small menu. The wine was brought directly and the food followed in short order.

“Good service,” said Harry as he laid his napkin across his lap.

Céline huffed. “In my experience, if food is arriving quickly, then it is prepared before and zapped in the microwave. Good food takes a long time to make.”

Harry already had a mouthful of pasta. He swallowed and then said, “I don’t know. This isn’t bad. Sauce is nice, chicken’s well cooked, pasta’s not underdone. I’ve had worse.”

Céline watched Harry shovel another forkful of food into his mouth and muttered, “Les Anglais mangent comme des cochons.”

She laid her own napkin on her lap and picked up her fork. Harry watched with mild amusement as she pushed some pieces of pasta around her plate before spearing one on the fork. She lifted it and opened her mouth just wide enough to get the food in. The pasta brushed her lips, leaving a trail of cheese sauce behind. She closed her lips around the fork and slipped it out, leaving the pasta behind. She chewed slowly and after she’d swallowed, she licked her lips clean with the tip of her tongue. Harry shivered.

She picked up another piece of pasta on her fork and held it in front of her. “‘Arry, I think you have been spending too much time en Italie eating ze pasta and ze pizza. Your pallet has suffered, non? You can no longer tell what is good food and what is not. En France, we are serving better food than this in our prisons and our schools, non?”

Harry shrugged. “Like I said, I’ve had worse.”

Céline ate another delicate mouthful of food and then said, “I know what to do ‘Arry. When we are both settled in Paris, I will take you to my preferred restaurant. Then you will know what is good food.”

The next few moments passed quietly as they ate. Finally, Céline said, “So, ‘Arry. Are you telling me about your American girl? Or am I making up my own story?”

Harry smiled and thought for a second. What harm could it do? Chances were he’d never see Céline again after they got to Paris and Céline would certainly never meet his fiancé. “Her name is Ruth.”

“Ruth is a nice name.”

“We met about a month after I moved to Rome, so we’ve been together for nearly three years now.”

“You are still together? Are you in love with her?”

“I think I am. I don’t know if she still loves me, though. Last time I spoke to her, she was still adamant she didn’t want to move to Paris. I don’t even know if we are still engaged. She hasn’t given me the ring back, so I guess we must be.”

“You are getting married? That’s wonderful. Félicitations.”

“Like I said, I don’t know. It’s been nearly a week since I last spoke with her. I tried to call her before I got on the train, but she didn’t answer her phone.”

“This is bad. I think you should be trying harder to move her to Paris when we arrive. Paris is a wonderful place for a girl to live. Le shopping, le cuisine, le ambiance.”

“You’re right, of course. I should try harder. So what about you? Any special men in your life?”

“Only mon Papa. I am young and at liberty. C’est magnifique.”

They continued to talk over the meal and by the time they returned to their cabin, it was almost half-past nine.

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