I did it! I finished my final flash fiction of 2020! The cards drawn meant we had to write an dystopian piece that takes place at the Eiffel Tower, and there had to be a cane in the story.
Here’s my entry: Ooo-la-ahhh…
December 15. It’s been seven months to the day that I’ve been living in France. Thought 2020 would be a banner year, kicking it off in Gai Paris for a stay. Yeah, that turned out to be a walloping non. COVID-19 hit all over. Not registering how serious things would become, I took it in stride, enjoying time with my friends, then I missed the deadline to come back to Canada.
My flatmates, who had been hosting me, decided they didn’t want the pressure of living with a Crip. Something about how because I’m higher risk, they couldn’t keep track of how much isolation I needed or all rules I insisted must be followed. So, they kindly invited me to leave.
Merci beaucoup, mes amis. Insert expletive here.
I still love Paris, though. Gorgeous city for walking about. Mind you, I tend to roll around it, using my rollator, with my cane folded up in a basket, in case shops aren’t accessible. But this time, I was suddenly homeless during a pandemic. Hotels felt too people-y for my liking, so I did what I felt was best. I went to the place that always helped me take my mind off things. And let’s face it, 2020 has had a host of things to forget. Folks all over the globe had become infected by a novel virus that scientists knew exactly nothing about; I read stories about triage nightmares in some countries where doctors had to choose who would die or not because of the lack of ventilators; and no current meds or vaccines could cure it… I wanted to escape reality for a good while.
So, I went to the Eiffel Tower. I truly only intended a visit. I swear.
But it had been closed to the public. I must have looked properly dejected because the security guard, Jean-Louis, had felt really badly for me. Through his face mask, his deliciously accented voice told me he would take me up, just once.
I haven’t left.
During our conversation up the lift, I’d explained my situation, and we connected. Funny how that happens. You meet this random stranger, and for some inexplicable reason, they become your person. He told me about Gustave Eiffel’s private apartment at the top of the tower, which I’d already known about. However, it remained vacant and unvisited because of the pandemic, so Jean-Louis asked me if I would consider staying there until I could get back to Canada.
I had cell connectivity, so I informed everyone back home that I was fine. They reported back that lockdowns were happening in various cities, and many people were being good, but others flouted the rules. Everyone I’d spoken to seemed frustrated in one way or another. I followed the news about what was happening in the US and couldn’t believe it. Seemed I was better off right here.
Bathroom accommodations were… interesting. Had to get used to chamber pots and told myself this was what kings and queens did once upon a time. Baths were in a metal tub with hot water from a kettle. How Jean Louis had disposed of everything, I never asked. He just helped me through this trying time, and it was difficult not to fall for someone who handled your waste material and dirty water with such easygoing cheer.
The cases grew in the outside world. People got sick of all ages. Deaths were astronomical. Still no cure in sight.
And faithfully, Jean-Louis brought me supplies, never once complaining.
In the summer, I had found out that there was a way I could return to Canada after all. On that day, Jean-Louis told me he loved me.
We both had access to the internet. We both knew I could leave any time.
Tonight we’re going to have a candlelit supper overlooking the city. From up here, there’s no virus, no death, no fear.
Just the warm fathomless brown gaze of Jean-Louis’ eyes.
I’m not sure what 2021 will bring, but for now, there’s this.
Ooo-la-ahhh © 2020 Cait Gordon. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission except in the case of brief quotations in critical articles and reviews. This is a work of fiction from the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. For more information, contact Cait Gordon.
Cait Gordon is a disability advocate who wants everyone to be wise and think of others as we battle COVID-19!
She’s also the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers. When Cait’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also teamed up with Kohenet Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the Nothing Without Us anthology (a 2020 Prix Aurora Award finalist for Best Related Work) in an attempt to take over the world.