Chapter 1 : Clementine
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Your fingers hover over the row of silk and cotton. The colours bleed into each other as you stare at them, lips pressed together. You’re not sure. You’re just not sure.
It’s a strange feeling for you. You’ve never felt unsure before – not about things like this, at least. Before now, you’d always known how to act, what to wear to ensure eyes turned to you and didn’t leave. How you look, you know, is as important as how you act.
After all, before you could keep someone’s attention, you had to get it.
Of course, it varies. On the season, the time of day, the weather... It’s complicated, but something you’ve learned; another language. You've become fluent in it, confident in your abilities.
Except now. Except with him.
It is, you think irritably, all his fault. It is complicated because of him. You are confused, because of him. You hesitate, because of him.
Normally, for something like this when you want him to come to you and ask, when you are searching for that elusive ‘hello’ and smile and, later, a stuttered invitation to dinner, you would wear orange. A soft, apricot orange in summer; a darker, bolder pumpkin orange in winter to catch the eye amongst greys and browns.
Except that this time, you’re more than aware that it's the same colour as his hair. It might, you worry, be too much – too obvious that it’s him you want. And so you hesitate, torn between lavender and apricot orange.
You close your eyes, and pluck the apricot dress from the wardrobe. You know what you’re doing. You shouldn’t doubt yourself.
The dress works. It’s not a surprise to you, and you lift your head, walking tall and straight, feeling your plait bounce on your back. You spot him almost immediately: he is standing towards the middle of the corridor with two friends. As expected, he turns to look at you. You look back and smile, feeling confident, feeling beautiful.
You spend the morning flicking glances at the door, expecting, hoping to see him there. Lunch arrives, and you’re disappointed. You’d thought he was interested. Maybe, if you’d worn lavender, it would have been different.
When you return to your office, he is there. He smiles crookedly when you step inside and arch an eyebrow at him, though he doesn’t say anything. You feel your irritation with him rising and you open your mouth to ask him why he’s here.
He doesn’t let you. Instead, he raises a hand and offers you a single, orange rose.
You can’t help but stare at him, frozen in time. This is not like you, this silence, this loss of words. Except now, with him, it is.
He clears his throat, nervous, and asks, stammers out:
“Veux-tu aller dîner avec moi?”
His accent is terrible, but you are struck by how confidently he says it, and you can only smile, take the rose from his hand, and breathe,
“Oui, bien sûr.”
Veux-tu aller dîner avec moi - Would you like to go to dinner with me?
Oui, bien sûr - Yes, of course.
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