“Quand est-ce que je dois vous rencontrer?” Felicienne was talking on the phone to a friend. “J'attends avec intérêt de vous rencontrer”
I met her last year at an art exhibition. She told me she was a friend of the artist, and they certainly seemed to be very good friends! The first thing that attracted me to her was her accent. There’s something special, about the sound of a fille française! That’s a French girl by the way, and if you are impressed by my sudden switch to French, don’t be! Apart from a couple of phrases like ce qui est votre nom (what is your name) and vous venez pour enfoncer avec moi?, I can’t speak a word! I learned those two questions from a friend at work who was fluent in French. I suppose you want to know what the second question was. I thought it was an excellent chat up line at the time, but the only response I got was a slap around the face. It means...well, you know. Actually it was only a temporary setback and a week later we’d become an item. Finnian and Felicienne, what a mouthful! That was nine months ago.
It’s not that I didn’t trust her. Why should I not have? No, it wasn’t that. But she did seem to have a lot of calls from a French friend called Mystique, and with a name like that I was bound to be curious! Anyway, it seemed that Mystique was a colleague of Felicienne’s at the language school in which they both taught. It was known by the somewhat unoriginal title of The Anglo-French Academy, and aimed to ‘foster a greater understanding of our two great nations by the sharing of language’.Felicienne worked three evenings a week. I say evenings, she often got home after I’d gone to bed. There was clearly quite an after-hours social life attached to her job!
Going back to the language thing, as I said I didn’t suspect there was anything going on that I was being kept unaware of, but I was at the same time a little curious when it came to those long telephone calls.
Last week it was New Years Eve. We decided to make New Year resolutions. Why I don’t know, nobody ever keeps them! But I came up with a great one. I resolved to learn French. I told her that I was about to enrol at her college, The Anglo French Academy. I thought that even if the classes were a bore, at least I’d be able to join in with the fun some evenings after lessons. But her reaction was odd. She took a sharp intake of breath. “That’s a great idea” she said, but there was something about her tone of voice that made her seem a little odd.
I asked if she had any resolutions. She trotted out the usual ‘give up smoking’ one, then lit a cigarette and disappeared into the kitchen with the phone, jabbering away to her friend in French. What I didn’t know was that she had made another resolution. And her resolution was to stop me carrying out my resolution before I had a chance to turn up at college the next week.
Just after that, she said she had to go to meet Mystique, she wanted to join her for a drink and a chat. She changed into a particularly stunning black dress, told me not to wait up and off she went.
No sooner had the door slammed than the phone rang. It was George, a mate of mine. Seems he’d been to the New Year races and won a packet on the gee-gees. He wanted to go out and celebrate. He was a single guy and as he couldn’t tempt out a filly at such short notice, he asked if I would care to join him at the Ivy. The Ivy! One of London’s most expensive restaurants. The waiting list for a table was as long as your arm. It took a serious back-hander to get us in at a moment’s notice.
I felt like a celebrity when I walked in. It’s the kind of place where everyone who enters is greeted with a stare from the other diners in case they are well known. They soon got back to their food!
My eye was caught by a couple at a table on the other side of the restaurant. He was disarmingly handsome and all over his partner like a rash! What a display I thought. It was when she looked up to speak to the waiter I had the shock of my life. It was Felicienne. I didn’t know what to say or do. I moved to the side of our table so I’d have my back to her. There was no way I could make a scene in there. Anyway, it was George’s night so I did my best to carry on as if nothing had happened. Unsurprisingly I had no appetite, but the copious amount of wine and the endless brandies had something of a calming effect.
How could I have been so stupid? She was never a teacher. She never went near the Anglo-French Academy. She was one of a group of French girls that came to England to set up a high class escort agency. No wonder she didn’t want me to learn French. I‘d have discovered she and Mystique were unknown at the college. Not only that but I would I have understood her telephone conversations.
What a difference a week makes. She didn’t manage to keep her resolution, but I did! Tomorrow I’m off to The Anglo-French academy. I’d rather got used to the idea of having a French teacher for a girl friend.Que se produira à l'avenir ?
Written for (Fiction)Friday # 138