Written by Layra Sparks
It is your last day spent in the sumptuous city of Paris.
That is, if you dare call it a day, since it is more of a fragment, a sliver of a day that somehow doesn’t fit into the picture. It is 4:03 AM, and the plane ascends in less than three hours. There is still time, but not much, not enough. So much could be done, but so little can be done, as you are oppressed by the overwhelming exhaustion inside of you. Gathering all your strength, you stand up, slide the window open, and lean out.
You can see the recently installed fountain that is always switched on too early in the morning, all the benches around it, and the whole street below the apartment, usually crowded with people in suits enjoying their five minute break, since you’ve got to use those five minutes properly. You notice, though, that you are solely looking and not observing - your mind is not processing what you see. It’s just pointless, blank staring.
So you shut the window and sit down on the bed, waiting. Waiting for your cab. Waiting for something to happen. Waiting for life to continue.Don’t you feel vulnerable simply sitting there, unable to act?You are going to leave, but haven’t yet, and are still there, on the bed of your cousin’s apartment, motionless. There is surely something that could be done - after all, you are in Paris - but then again, it’s four in the morning and you’re about to leave. Waiting for your cab. Waiting for something to happen. Trapped in a liminal time between staying and leaving, trapped in a liminal space between away and home. Isn’t a powerless feeling, experiencing moments of mere existence?
The cab arrives; you rush down the stairs, taking two steps at a time, dragging your luggage behind you. You’ve got to hurry, the driver must be busy and your flight won’t wait for you either. One can’t play with other people’s schedule and get away with it so smoothly. You put your bags into the trunk, and climb into the back seat.
"Á l’aéroport Charles de Gaulle, s’il vous plaît. Terminal F” you say.
Then, you lean back and enjoy what you have still have - the view of the early morning Paris, where the streets are almost empty, and unusually calm. Where the patisseries are not open yet, and the light of the réverbères is reflected on the freshly washed pavement. For a second, you close your eyes, think of all the businessmen about to flood the square by the fountain, and smile. Rare seconds of calmness. It is only as the keys are turned and the engine starts, that you notice the rectangular digits of the taximeter glaring at you.
Your eyes are fixated on them, and you find yourself unable to look away. You are held hostage by electric numerals. Held hostage inside a taxicab, and there is nothing you can do. Every ten seconds, the sum increases, laughing into your face.
You can’t get out yet, you’re not at your final destination. You can’t make them stop; it’s not your call. All you can do is sit there, and watch the digits turn over, while the planet spins around its axis. Stare outside the window as you speed across the city, across your life. The taximeter doesn’t make halt; it isn’t influenced by anything but time and distance. Sitting there, watching precious moments of living pass by. Sitting…watching…watching –
Once you’ve arrived, you get out, check the lurid numbers, and pay the sum. If you know the miles and you know the time, you can calculate back. You can find out how much each mile is worth. You can find out how much each second is worth – those spent moving and those spent not moving.
Finally, you can find out how much your life is worth. And how much of it you wasted waiting for the cab to arrive, in that transitional state of yours.