Brassai Le pont Neuf

Solitary Dahlias

In front of the castle she saw the leaves moved by the wind, all together, and the street-car was passing by forgetting them quickly. She turned her face and asked them:

“What is the secret of your happiness?”.

It was Sunday and she was going to the artist quarter on the riverside to work at the bistro, selling cigars, cigarettes and coloured dahlias.

Before entering the bistro, she used to sit on her favourite bench, under the lamplight that was reminding her when she was playing on the stage. But she didn’t want to linger to much on her past nor on the future, only the present was warmer and more reassuring then everything else.

She just recalled how much love she had given to anyone.


She spent all her life giving, and not always getting something back.

But giving was the purpose of her life.

At the bistro she slipped off her clothes and wore a black satin lace trimmed frock, high heels patent leather shoes, lacy glove. Her lips, red like a ripe strawberry arouse men and women.

But how did she end up working at the bistro?

Let’s go back, for a moment.

She had arrived in the new city the previous winter, and since then she used to walk every day long hours in order to discover and posses her, feeling to belong to Paris little by little and more and more.

One spring day, balmy and sunny, she stopped to get a coffee at the bistro, under the wisteria pergola, watching the river passing by and welcoming her.

She felt the need to share with somebody her loneliness, though nobody was there, except her.

The place was waiting for the night to become fully alive, with music, voices, laughs, desires.

A woman with short bleached hair and an ambiguous lovely smile, came to her table asking her if she wanted something.

“A coffee ….please… and maybe a job…”. She said it laughing feebly, staring at the woman’s ice blue eyes, so similar to hers.

“What kind of job?”.

“Anything. I am a new kid in town and I know nobody and being an actress doesn’t always pay for the food and the rent…”.

“I like you. You look like a vulnerable kid, but I guess you are stronger then what you appear. I would like to discover this secret side of you…I can offer you a simple job, on Sunday from evening to the closing time”.

She was to weak to say no, defeated by the glowing look of the blonde ephebic woman.

Before leaving the bistro, she touches softly her lips with her long fingers, whispering:

“I’ll be waiting for you, next Sunday”.

Blushing she said a timid “thank you”.

Sunday evening she arrived at the bistro and the owner, smiling maliciously pressed her lips on hers.

She didn’t mind if it was a woman kissing her, she needed a contact with another human being, badly, enjoying the warmness and the vibration of other bodies, to feel again happy and less alone.

She felt the longing to receive, just for a change.

She never drew back from her kisses, caresses and attentions, whenever she felt her, calling her with an excuse in her office or in the bathroom.

She was happy to please this benefactress who helped her, but a nostalgia to give herself to a male lover was not forgotten, as like this unexpected relationship had make her aware of her desires and needs.

Passing by the tables, she was almost feeling the men’s thoughts on her, selling them the flowers for their own women.

At the end of the night she used to take home the unsold dahlias, pretending that she had received them from an unknown admirer.

But one night, before going home, one night in which she felt lonelier than usual, she sit at the bench with the hands full of flowers but empty heart.

Nobody was sitting next to her, just the deep solitary night.

Giving…giving… But what and to whom?

She thought about the men who had used her beauty and love, carelessly, giving her back only suffering and abandons, preferring to cling to their own selfishness.

She lifted her skirt and unbuttoned her shirt, she let her fingers sliding between her legs, offering her pleasure to the river, calm, generous, strong, a faithful lover waiting for her every night.

She let the dahlias whirling in the air and then landing on the indigo blue water that would take them towards an happiness she had never completely known.