Isabelle woke up and looked outside the Left Bank apartment that she shared with Trish and Lucy.
Both Trish and Lucy were gone. It wasn't unusual for Lucy to be up early and out of the apartment, but when Isabelle looked at the little corner of the apartment where Trish slept, she noticed that the couch had never been pulled out. In fact, there was no sign that Trish had ever returned home last night. And the last time Isabelle and Lucy saw their friend was when she waved her away, insisting they go without her, because she and Monsieur Veuve Clicquot were dancing a tango. Well, so much for the Three Muscateers, Isabelle thought, feeling more than a little bit disappointed. As she ate the last of her yogurt and sipped her coffee, she could hear her mother's voice in her head saying, oh grow up! and so she tried to let go of this feeling, as she packed up and left the apartment, walking along the Seine to their classroom.
It was early morning and still a bit dark out when Isabelle tiptoed into the empty classroom. It wasn’t a real classroom, but a conference room inside the Hotel des Grand Ecoles, not far from Université de Paris and their apartment near Boulevard St. Germaine. This is where Professor Kelly had arranged to hold this week’s "crit" session. Next week, it might be held in a café or a restaurant or even in a museum, but never in a real classroom at the university. In fact, it seemed as if Professor Kelly had an aversion to university classrooms or perhaps it was Paris and somehow this transformed the ivy league septagenarian in such a way that he wanted to avoid the traditional classroom environment. Paris did that to people. It changed them.
Isabelle breathed in and looked around at the walls. Mostly, they were bare, clean white, waiting to be filled with yesterday’s photos from the Tuileries. Best and worst shots, as Kelly had explained. Isabelle took out her portfolio and looked at her prints. There were five altogether and she thought they were all pretty bad, but still, she had to chose her best, or at least one that didn't scream out "amateur!" After a few minutes, she decided it was the shot of the girl in the Tuileries, doing a cartwheel.
That was her best. She also had a few shots of femmes d’un certain age walking through the park and she decided these were her worst. She chose what she thought was the very worst one of the bunch. You couldn’t even see the woman’s face, Isabelle mused. Professor Kelly will agree. This is the worst one. But truth be told, Isabelle thought they were all awful. Awful!
“So you can’t decide which is your best?” It was Michael--the student from RISDY, the boy who was wearing corduroys yesterday, but was now wearing a pair of stylish chinos and a clean white shirt, looking remarkably handsome--now standing beside her. “I can see your problem,” he continued. “They’re all really good.”
“No,” Isabelle insisted, feeling somewhat defensive and annoyed. What was it with this boy that bothered her? “I’m trying to find the worst one, because they’re all terrible!”
And with this she felt her cheeks blush red hot, and she knew exactly what it was about this boy that bothered her.
To be continued....
P.S. I think Michael should ask Isabelle for a favor. What should it be?