Here’s the beginning of a short story that may pass a bit of time…..
In four weeks Jacinta had only had one email from Nolan, “Don’t forget my water from the Holy Spring.” Perhaps she shouldn’t have sent so many emails, but she wanted him to think she was having a wonderful time. In fact she had spent a lot of time alone reading her guidebook while the others skolled ouzo and sang raucous songs. Perhaps she had had a tiny hope her trip would be so exciting she would forget Nolan, but she yearned for him even more. His lovely lilting Irish voice, his curly hair, his cheeky wink. Oh, if only he were here with her. Paris, the lights coming on, the Seine. Who knew what might have happened if she and Nolan had come to Paris together? She’d been going with him for years now, but he was still a mystery to her. He was like a cat. You couldn’t force yourself on him.
There was no email from Nolan when she finally found an internet café round the corner from the hotel. She logged on to the railways site and began to look for trains to Nantes. She only had three days left. Two hours to Nantes by TGV. She could go tomorrow morning and come back the next day and still have a day and a half in Paris before her midnight flight. She typed St. Nizier-le-Maigre into Google. Village, Loire-Atlantique, pop. 100, minor shrine, apparition of Notre Dame des Cheveux of dubious validity. Notre Dame des Cheveux. Horses? No, no, she always got that mixed up.Cheveux was hair. ‘Our Lady of the Hair.’ Was he sending her all that way to get holy water from the shrine for his hair? It was true his lovely curls were thinning. He was quite sensitive about it. She typed in ‘Notre Dame des Cheveux.’ Only one entry, in French. She pressed the translation button.
A young female, she calls herself Albertine Albert, had pain of the head and plonged to herself the head in the spring. The Blessed Virgin makes herself to appear on the cavern of the rocks. She promise to the girl if some prayers to her and place of pilgrimage construct there could be cured. The headache departs the girl of whom the hair develop some long waves. In the year 1966 he had some pilgrims there, but then not many.
It really was about hair? But perhaps Nolan suffered from headaches as well. She had promised and she would go although she would have to take two buses from Nantes and then there seemed to be quite a walk to the village of St Nizier. She walked slowly back to the hotel. How she would love to spend a few days in Paris walking by the Seine and going to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa.
Back in her room she set her alarm. She fell into a twitchy sleep and dreamt of Nolan wearing a flowered dress with his hair growing down over his feet. He glared at her. She woke with her heart pounding. An uproar of clanging metal and operatic voices had struck up outside. The garbage trucks already. She would be lucky to get any more sleep. She dressed, locked her pack and pulled out the maps she had printed. Train to Nantes, bus to Saint-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu, change bus for Saint-Lumine-de-Coutais, and then St Nizier seemed to be about a kilometre along the road. Her heart sank. She just couldn’t do it. Nolan or no Nolan, she just couldn’t do it on her own. She lay down clutching the maps and stared at the ceiling. She saw herself sitting at a sidewalk table with a cup of coffee in her hand. She saw herself strolling by the Seine. She saw herself sitting in the Luxembourg Gardens – wow, talking to a Frenchman who looked a bit like Nolan, but he was suntanned, with his shirtsleeves rolled back along strong arms, and his eyes were a deep brown. Well, actually, with that thick hair he didn’t look much like Nolan.