A dark blanket lurks, closing in on the edges of the
twinkling city, while the bustle and chatter, buoyant, rises
unafraid, to meet it.
My new shoes meet historic paths, carrying me past towering
structures now bursting with the latest trends.
Delicate patisseries intertwined between the giants of Paris
relieve the timeless streets and bustle, as I continue to
wander, in what seems a dream.
The lights of carousels dance ... around and around and
around to the music of the hurdy-gurdy ... carrying children
out past their bedtimes, while parents chatter with a steamy
drink in hand.
Pressing my hands deeper into the warmth of fur-lined
pockets, I cross the road towards the hunched, elderly man
I'd seen yesterday and the day before, again wrapped up in
his green plaid coat, as gentle as clockwork, he closed up
his lottery stand.
The easy elegance of women darting between cars, crossing
streets, makes me pause in admiration, all who have places to
be and people to see; the sophisticated detail of their coats
and hats revealed as they step into warm lights gracing
entrances of restaurants and galleries; familiar faces await
Wintry air continues to prickle my nose and cheeks, followed
by a cloud of air drenched in warmth and scents from the cafe
ahead ... a hot drink beckons.
Three euros and ''Un chocolat chaud, s'il vous plait'' later,
my insides are heated by the thickest and most sumptuous, hot
chocolate I have ever tasted.
Wrapped in the night's deepening blanket, I am carried
through the cold dry air soaked in rich, newly risen
pastries, confused with smoke and perfume that float,
My feet come to a halt ... the black hole ... an entrance
unlike those with sparkling windows and lights that I was now
accustomed to seeing . . . intimidated . . .
The screeching metal and yells up the tunnel-like entrance I
am now faced with, followed by the echoing of a more
flustered, chaotic chatter than I had previously been
surrounded by; beggars, and those in a rush to get to the
admittedly undersized doors allowing the certainty of
Plucking up my courage, abandoned by the comfort of my now
empty cup, my shoes step down, down, down the unkempt stairs
leading to limitless destinations.
Lost souls of the Parisian metro find themselves level with
the soles of my shoes ... hunched and cross-legged; a cold,
rusty tin inviting loose change.
Tired, gloomy eyes peer up at me, yet glimmer, at the sight
of the shiny coin nearing them; leftovers from the steamy
drink I'd earlier devoured.
I can't help but wonder at the masses passing; head high,
leather satchel snug in the crook of their arm, somehow
oblivious to the forgotten whose gaze rarely rises above the
rush of shoes, squeezing in and out of metro doors.
A two-levelled city ... with two different worlds.
• By Polly Tenci, Year 12, St Hilda's Collegiate School