I met her in Paris, in a crowded bookshop. Accidentally bumping into her, I hurriedly turned to apologize. Assuming I would be confronted by the usual anonymous face, I babbled a distracted and confused “sorry”. My thoughts and movements would have quickly moved on, had her magnetic gaze not paralyzed the passing of time around us.
Instead, my eyes remained glued to hers in an eternal moment full of depth. Who was this woman smiling at me with such a maternal and reassuring expression?
The words stuck in my throat as she continued to hold me in her childish gaze, which was perfectly fine with me. Her hands were holding a book with a colorful cover, fairytales probably. She wore a very odd, cream-colored, velvet hat, and a jacket with a soft, lilac fabric that hugged her hips perfectly. Light trousers covered well-sculpted legs. Brown wavy hair in a bob cut framed a rather square, but sweet, face. A nice nose and a mouth that looked as though it was created specifically for a welcoming smile. As well as kissing, of course. Welcoming those who, like me, were looking for answers...
She was the one who broke the ice, if what was between us can even be called ice.
“Aren’t fairytales simply fascinating? I have no one to read them to, but I’ve never given up the pleasure of immersing myself in fantastic worlds and getting lost in daydreams. And these books carry such messages of hope! I really do love them. They help keep my imagination alive; they help me to remember that life is magical every day. Reading fairytales is like choosing a pair of glasses to wear: dark lenses or clear and colored lenses?”
She spoke candidly, much more intimately then I had become accustomed to in my role as an established professional, where I had learned to never give anything away, to never make mistakes, especially in personal relationships. You should never reveal too much of yourself to someone you’ve just met, a voice said within me. Nevertheless, this woman facing me, a perfect stranger, instantly touched my heart, and as I later discovered, this was because the heart was always her aim, bypassing all the social barriers imposed by family, school, and the good manners of society.
“Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Irène, and you are?”
As I said my name, I saw a strange light in her eyes.
“My name is Maddalena. My dear Irène, in the end, I will remember neither your name nor your age nor your profession. Nor will you remember my name. In the end, we will only remember what we have learned from each other. Only moments of love will remain engraved on our souls. Nothing else. My name is Maddalena, but I'm not just Maddalena. I could have a thousand names and recite a thousand scripts. I can hold a thousand loves. Tell me Irène, what glasses have you decided to wear? Dark or colored lenses?”