Meeting Lucy – Enzo (part three)

If you haven’t read yet chapter 1 – a long day by train, you can start there

Enzo closes his tiny black pen, and he proudly looks at his drawings, quite satisfied with the results. A lot of movement is emanating from them. Faces are vivid. Some are remarkable. It will be a lot of fun painting everything with colors, he rejoices.

He wonders what time it is. He has quite lost the notion of time since he has started drawing… Not that time matters. Anyway, it’d be better never to get back home, not to witness the horrendous mess after his flatmate’s party. He opens his pen with the intention to add and polish a few details…

“Hey there! I’m Lucy!” someone shouts in his ear, in English.

What? He painfully looks up from his notebook, and sees a girl standing before him, with a large smile.

“Hey, I’m Lucy!” she repeats, her lips twisting mockingly.

“I’m Enzo.”

“It’s nice meeting you Enzo! Sorry to have interrupted what you were doing!”

“No, it’s fine. I’m done with it.” He closes the notebook and puts it back in his pocket with the pen.

“You are Spanish, aren’t you?” she says, a reassuring smile printed on her face. She has hair the color of wheat in the setting sun, but her features have nothing remarkable about them. She’s rather tall for a girl, but not too tall.  

“No, Italian,” he replies. She makes a small pout, as if she were disappointed by her error. “What about you?”

“Can’t you guess?”

“Ehh… Danish?”

“No, but you’re not that far!”

“German then?”

“Oh, no, no! Not German, thank God, not German. I’m Dutch!”

“Oh. You don’t seem to like Germans?”

She grins. “No, it’s not that. But in the Netherlands, we have a lot of jokes about Germans!”

“Ah I see. I guess we also make jokes about them in Italy…”

“Poor Germans… Let me take a look at your drawings, Enzo!”

She wants to see my drawings? That’s weird. He hesitates a second, disconcerted by her request. But he then draws out again the small notebook, opening it in the middle, and showing her one of the sketches he did at the party. She reaches out to take it, but Enzo keeps his hand clenched on it.

“I will show you,” he says.

“Aw, come on. I prefer to see it by myself!” she retorts, reaching out anew, and managing to snatch it. She grins mischievously.

Enzo feels completely startled by her familiarity. But it is not displeasing in itself… Something that had happened with Tonino in his childhood and had left him with a similar flavor flashes back. But he can’t recollect the exact memory.

Lucy looks at the drawings with attention, slowly turning the pages.

Shit. What if she reads the things I’ve written? Enzo fights the temptation to snatch it back. “No please, stop here. Give me back the notebook… the other drawings are quite old.”

“That makes me even more curious! Did you draw naked girls by any chance? Maybe your girlfriend!” She carries on through the notebook, with a feigned nonchalance.

“No, not at all.” Enzo can’t repress a blush, feeling all his face burning, and his scalp itching.

“Oh! You thought I was serious? Come on man! I’d never expect someone like you to draw naked girls. I’d be amazed if ever you even saw one.”

Enzo is too baffled to reply, failing to understand when she is serious and when she is not, and vaguely wondering whether she is drunk, even though she doesn’t look like it. Keeping up with a normal conversation is already troublesome for him, but he has never witnessed such a phenomenon. He thought it existed only in movies, which he seldom watches to make it worse.

“Ah, but that’s a drawing of this morning’s tour!” she exclaims.

“You were at the guided tour?”

“Of course! How could you not notice me with that bright red jacket?”

Enzo tries remembering. But he does not recall any face, except the guide’s face. He was too engrossed in the latter’s explanations, and in his own sketches and notes taking.

“Now give me back the notebook.” Enzo extends his arm to take it, but Lucy carries on, imperturbable.

“Oh, but why do you write in French?” she asks suspiciously after having reached the part where he writes down his reflexions.

This time, he snatches it back with decision and sequesters it in his pocket to avoid further discussion, smiling apologetically. “Yes, I write in French, to practice.” He suddenly feels stupid about his fear. Why on earth would a Dutch girl be able to understand French. “Do you speak French?”

“Of course I do!” she vehemently replies in perfect French, as if his question had insulted her. She carries on in the language of Molière: “By the way, I really like your drawings. They have something special about them. Their atmosphere is quite beautiful… There seems to be a lot of movement, but at the same time they bear a certain solemnity, and a bit of… melancholy?”

Enzo listens in silence, deeply moved by her compliment, which sounds sincere and denotes a critical mind, giving it even more weight. “Thank you,” he replies, his voice filling with a bit of emotion despite himself. Oddly, despite Lucy’s peculiarity and her constant jeering, he feels particularly at ease with her. She has something refreshingly honest and brisk and sharp about her, and that she means no harm with her jesting. Her curiosity towards his person touches him, momentarily ridded of his everlasting fear to be maladapted and out of place when talking with someone he doesn’t know very well.

He looks around him and is surprised to find the room half empty. It must then be really late for the party to be dying out… Indeed, the music is quieter, and that’s why they could have such a conversation.

“You’re not a graphic design student,” she says out of the blue. “Nor are you an architect. I can rule out medicine and law, sociology and psychology, of course. Languages… You don’t seem like a teacher kind of person. In practice it leaves us with… engineering, history, literature. Which one of the three are you? No, no don’t say anything. I want to guess! You are… you are… a historian!”

Enzo shakes his head, laughing. “Quite true, I would have loved to study history. But I didn’t have that chance…”

“How so?” she stares at him, as if she wanted to read the whole story in his eyes. Her irises are quite dark. He looks away at the room, uncomfortable with a too long eye contact.

“Why I like history, or why I couldn’t study it?”

“Both!” she laughs, exhaling genuine curiosity.

“Why I love history? It’s a good question… Visiting an old city or an old ruin is like reading a book with several stories… Each layer tells of a different story. Some are fully or partly cancelled, some are visible. I see a narrow cobbled street bordered by old melancholic houses and I imagine the people and the animals that once walked on these stones in the intimacy of this street, the joys it witnessed, and the blood that was spilled there… and the crafts and stalls that spread in the groundfloor of these buildings, filling the street with scents and sounds and colors, giving it a life and a soul.  I imagine the pride and labor that inhabitants put in to build their city, their feeling of security behind the ramparts… which were also a permanent reminder of the threats looming on them…”

For the first time in a very long time, Enzo has forgotten himself and is giving free rein to his thoughts, which are not anymore in conflict with his words. He speaks and speaks with passion, making broad and confident movements with his arms and his hands, almost detached from himself and vaguely surprised at the facility with which words go out, as if he were in a sort of trance. Lucy nods from time to time, questioning him when she doesn’t understand a sentence, giving the impression to pay a lot of attention to what he says despite her occasional slightly ironic smiles.

“But even if the stories are sad, thinking of history and past times makes me happy. It’s hard to explain… and maybe strange?… But it makes me happy, I associate it with the sun of my island, and with…” She raises an eyebrow, showing all her interest. “Ah, did I forget to say I’m Sicilian? My island is covered with forgotten castles and mansions overgrown with bramble, sometimes lost in the midst of the mountains… home of goats and eagles now. There is so much poetry and beauty in them. I don’t know if you understand… It’s not the dry factual side of history I love – like the way it’s taught at school. It’s the emotion that an old worked stone can powerfully evoke to me, it’s the story of people, how they lived and what they thought about…”

It is almost incredible how being with someone who listens carefully will give wings to your thoughts and fire to your words when you speak about something you are truly passionate about. Enzo is bursting with gratification, feeling alive, profoundly alive. He has never had such a clear vision of what he loves in history, he has never felt so close to it. He could carry on for a long, long, time, for his thoughts are uncontainably galloping across a wide green heath, and the muscles of his mouth and his jaw are desperately trying to keep up without loosing too much of their precious substance, with the remotely vague impression that he is talking about a rather unusual topic for a party.  

Suddenly, he finds his hand coming painfully against something hard and cold and moist.

“Watch your hand, jackass!!!” a female voice hysterically shouts in English.

Enzo apprehensively turns his head to the left where the impact has occurred, away from Lucy, finding a blond girl leaning forward, holding a half-empty glass with one hand and disconsolately examining her white robe.

“My new dress! Look what you did! Watch your hands! Asshole! Asshole!”

The results are indeed deplorable, as the dress is irremediably stained with the orange-pink drink, at the level of her generous bosom, and down along her legs. The stains are surprisingly wide, and the tissue is soaked.

Enzo helplessly stares at her, almost paralyzed while trying to reconstruct the dynamic of what has happened. “I’m sorry… I’m so sorry… I didn’t see you…”

“Come on! See what you did! You ruined my new dress!… Pay for it now!…”

And Enzo apologizes profusely, not finding anything else to say or do but stand like an idiot while repeating that he is so sorry. He thinks with shame at how he was carried away by his words, while planing in the realm of history, now anxious that Lucy will turn on her heels and blend with all the people who have rejected him, bitterly regretting that the rapture of their former conversation was shattered in such a stupid way.

Fortunately, Lucy comes to the rescue with a thick heap of napkins she has taken from the bar. She takes the glass from the unfortunate girl, hands it to Enzo with an imperious look, and helps her drying off. “When you get home, cover the stains with flour. Keep it dry, and wait for a couple of days. Then rub it with soap. It’s grandma’s recipe! It does miracles, you’ll see and tell me!” Lucy’s words seem to have the desired effect, as the blond girl starts to quiet down.

A broad shouldered boy arrives next, and understanding the situation quite rapidly, he grabs the girl by her round waist. “Come babe, let’s go. Enough vodka for tonight.” He kisses her and swiftly drags her away. They soon disappear in the dim crowd, leaving Enzo with the glass containing that orange-pink solution, aka stains on white dresses guaranteed.

He breaks the silence that follows, mumbling: “Sorry Lucy, I’m really clumsy…Thanks for the help…” His heart beats fast reckoning that now she will doubtlessly abandon him in front of so much awkwardness and embarrassment, and that he will be left alone again.

She gives him a smirk. “Clumsy, and incredibly fast to react, right?”

That’s social rawness and inexperience of parties, he thinks, blushing. “Well… she was quite hysterical. I didn’t know how to calm her down without exciting her more.”

She briefly laughs, breaking down the tension. “It happens! I’m myself sort of a clumsy person. Sometimes,” she adds, shrugging.

“Sorry to have spoken so much before, I was carried on by…”

“Why be sorry? I found it really interesting. Besides I’m sure that the next time you speak about history, you’ll make sure to keep your hands in your pockets!

Don’t you intend to have the drink you’ve inherited?” she mockingly asks.

Enzo gives it a puzzled, irresolute look.

“Come, let’s see what it is! Anyway the poor girl didn’t even manage to put her lips on the glass. Only her dress had that chance!” She grabs it and takes a sip, narrowing her eyes. “Vodka… orange…” She takes another sip. “And strawberry… and…” She sniffs at it. “And a clever touch of cinnamon and ginger… Give it a try!”

Enzo mistrustfully takes a small sip. He grimaces, quite displeased with the taste of vodka (or one of the other spices?) as it does not fall anywhere between the flavor of wine, amaretto or limoncello, the insular alcohols.

“And he’s choosy with all that! Okay, give me the glass then. It’s a fair reward for soothing that bitch!” She takes a long thirsty gulp. “You still didn’t reply to my other question!”

He thinks for an instant. “Why didn’t I study history?” She nods, curiously staring at his face. “Well, there wouldn’t be many job perspectives. And my family’s not really wealthy to… Besides, I’m not even sure I’d have enjoyed it. I don’t think it’s taught the way I like it…”

“Oh, I highly doubt it is! I thereby conclude you are… an engineer!” Lucy exclaims, with a triumphant note in her voice.

Enzo waits a few seconds, his expression composed, to keep the suspense, and he then nods. “I’m in environmental engineering at EPFL and…”

She cuts him, giving the impression she doesn’t want to hear anything more about engineering. “Guessing right at my second attempt. It’s not bad, isn’t it? And I was already well on track from the first time!”

“How did you discard all the fields at first?”

“Ah, that’s my little secret! But let me confide something to you since you’re a nice boy… Promise to keep it for yourself!” She comes closer and leans toward his ear. Enzo feels her breath on his neck and his face. It’s warm and ticklish and sweet with strawberry flavor. She slowly whispers: “I’m a mind reader!…” Her tone and her face are fully serious, but her dark eyes are mischievously sparkling.

Enzo briefly laughs, thinking about something clever to say. “What am I thinking right now?” he asks, smiling slyly, not even knowing the answer himself.

Lucy doesn’t reply immediately, looking hard at his face, and downward, at his arms? That makes Enzo self-conscious and uneasy about them, not knowing whether to let them crossed on his chest, or put his hands down in his pockets. He uneasily switches their position, back and forth, waiting for her inspection to end. She starts speaking all at once. “What am I not thinking about, you should have asked! You think too much, and that makes you slow to react sometimes,” she raises her eyebrows. “You are wondering what that girl wants from you, why in the hell she came to trouble your little solitude! And you are ruminating about the most efficient position where to place your arms, you typical engineer!”

This last sentence sends him giggling, suddenly feeling his arms much lighter, and his spirit is sailing on a light airy cloud. It’s such a delight to sincerely laugh with someone!

She doesn’t give him the time to reply or ask another question. “It’s your turn now! What do I study? What? Can you guess?” She then quickly adds: “You can safely assume I’m a student!”

“What do you study?” he repeats her question to gain time. “Err, psychology?”

She bursts out laughing, shaking her head. “You were impressed by my little show, weren’t you?”

“Sociology then?”

“No, no.”

After a long sequence of trials and errors, Enzo eventually finds out that she is an architect. An unhappy architect it seems. That’s quite surprising.  

“Why did you choose it, then?” he asks.

“It’s a long story…”

“But I’m very patient!”

“Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you!” she announces. “My damnation is that I am, or I was, a nice and good and well-bred daughter who always strived to please her parents. Quite undeserving parents, should I say. But that’s another story I guess…” Her words are filled with a light touch of self-irony and sarcasm, and something else Enzo fails to put a word on. “So my parents wished me to follow a pretty little career, along a clear and well-marked path, as everyone does, of course. Why would their own daughter be different amongst all? Why, why? No, it cannot be!”

She then takes a sugary voice, probably imitating her mother: “Lucy, honey, it’s really fine to have dreams. It’s great! But you need the meat. You’re grown up now – you realize? – and it’s time building firm pillars, the firm pillars on which to construct your life. And that means doing serious studies… Then you’ll be able to do anything, absolutely anything you want! You will be free, you will have money. And your freshness, your imagination, will be the final dressing my dear. Believe your mom! You’ll see, many a man will crack up for that!”

She carries on with her own voice: “Do something solid and secure. Something reputable. Something commonplace, and boring! Boring! Pathetic! Conform to society, conform to the ruling of the majority, do what others want you to do!… Well, that’s my pretty story…” She gives Enzo a pointed look. “And probably yours!”

“Let’s go out and take a fresh breath. It’s getting stuffy in here!” she launches, without waiting for his answer.

Enzo acquiesces, still hanging on her lips, and hoping that this is not a polite way for her to take her leave. He’s really curious to know more about this odd girl now. She puts down her empty glass on a table. Before going out, he remembers to take his jacket from the booth, while she had left her bright red coat on a small couch in a corner of the room, under a pile of other jackets. She gives him one of her mocking stares, without even needing to speak for him to understand it. So you also fell in the four francs trap! That doesn’t surprise me at all from you! Seeing the merriness in her eyes makes him almost hear her voice saying that, and he’s happy to feel close from someone.  

They step out in the already well-advanced night, bidding goodnight to the security guard who gratifies them with a small and cold nod. Enzo feels almost deafened, as if the loud music filled his ears with cotton. The gusting wind appears to have mellowed a little, also tired after a long day at work.

They silently walk upward in the quietness of the Bourg’s street, which is well lighted and fully asleep, save for a few nightclubbers who are heading home.

Lucy makes now and then a few architectural comments as they pass in front of buildings she finds beautiful, interesting or mysterious.

Enzo eventually breaks the silence: “So?”

“So,” she repeats, seeming intently focused on her thoughts. They tacitly turn left, crossing the high bridge that separates the Bourg’s from the cathedral.

“So, you started with architecture… And?…”

“Then?” her tone is low and abrupt, having departed of her former self-irony and cheerful tone all at once. “I followed studies I didn’t want to follow. To please my parents. For three years. Trying to make as if everything was alright. I woke up every morning trying to convince myself that this was my path. That it was my destiny to become an architect. That I needed to be happy about my life, and participate in all my fellow students’ activities. Fellow students who didn’t understand me. But most of the time, I couldn’t. I knew I was lying to myself. But I did nothing to change, to come off this ignominious… thing. I lacked the courage to say enough, and put distance between myself and my family. I lacked the courage, the perseverance, to follow my dearest dreams. I lacked the courage to take my own destiny in my own hands! Coming to Lausanne has been the first real decision I ever took. I didn’t even tell it to my parents, until I came here. And that I’m proud of!”

Enzo has considered her gravely all the while, not losing a word of hers, and striving to get a deep understanding of what Lucy has gone through in her misty past, trying to guess more than what she tells about her character, her life in the Netherlands and her relationship with her parents. For the first time, he feels that even such a self-confident girl can be vulnerable. All of a sudden, Enzo feels older, more mature and somewhat stronger.

“I waited a lot, too much, to take my decision to leave the Netherlands. Better late than never, right? But I…” Lucy seems to notice the blend of intensity, seriousness and sympathy that fills his look (and his soul), and she’s fast to burst the bubble of tension that surrounds them, as if she didn’t want him to feel empathy for her. She shrugs it off with a careless movement of her hand – as if it were a mere old anecdote utterly unworthy to be discussed – and she starts talking, cheerfully and lightheartedly anew, of last morning’s guided tour and her impressions about their newly arrived fellow students, as they pass by the dark shade of the old and eroded cathedral built in sandstones. Strange reaction. Is she afraid of something? Enzo wonders.

They approach the little esplanade extending in front of the cathedral main entrance, overlooking the sleeping city with faint lights melancholically sparkling here and there, and they are met with stronger gusts of wind. Enzo shivers despite his jacket. The lake and the mountains are no more visible than in the morning, shrouded in the darkness of the haze and the clouds. He fails to listen very carefully to what she’s saying. She’s speaking quite fast, as if she were trying to fill a void, exposing some sorts of social theories of her own, comparing people in Delft and Lausanne in a scrappy, voluble manner. He has the impression to detect a slight, almost unnoticeable, false note in her tone. A dull note of anguish?

She eventually falls silent. He hesitates whether to ask her another question related to her personal life. It’s far more interesting when people speak about themselves, or about topics they really care for. Of course not the triflings that were discussed by the boring French group, but deeper matters such as past experiences, passions and views on life…

“So if you don’t like architecture, what do you like?” Enzo finally asks, raising his gaze from the dimly lit old colorful buildings along the covered wooden stairs that meanders from the cathedral to the old town, to Lucy’s face. The question doesn’t seem to annoy her.  

“It’s not that I don’t like architecture! My view on architecture is somewhat similar to yours towards history, I guess. I love buildings, but not in a conventional way. I love them for the stories they tell, for the mysteries and secrets they hide, for their extensible dimensions depending on the light and how they are furnished. That story that the guide told us this morning struck me for example.”

“Which one?” he asks, too hastily.

“Oh, come on! The legend! The forbidden love between that builder and the aristocrat woman, the underground city!”

“Oh yes, yes, it was interesting!”

“It’s a pity the guide didn’t give more details about it! All he cared for was to please and impress those empty headed girls who can only talk makeup and shopping and boyfriends. Ah, how I can’t stand this kind of persons!”

“The guide or the girls?”

“Both, both. Each has his own fault! Now tell me, do you think we are standing above the underground city here?”

“Of course. Right under us there is the marketplace, and the butchery and the bakery!” Enzo replies good-humoredly.

She laughs a bit. “It’s too striking a legend not to be based on a real story! Don’t you think? Lausanne hides a lot of mystery. Dark and dusty stone buildings, obscure windy and abrupt alleys, steep lushy valleys, old arched bridges and forgotten underground rivers,” she slowly enumerates. “All the ingredients are here for a great fantasy novel! And I’m surely going to try finding something more about it…”

Well, why not after all? “Let me then know about the results of your inquiry! I burn to know more about that story!”

“Come, come, happy to make fun of me now?”

“Me, making fun of you? I’d never dare! So you like reading fantasy novels?” he asks.

“I absolutely love fantasy novels!” she exclaims. “Do you?”

“Err, I haven’t read many… But Nonna used to tell me a lot of legends, and I love those. Nonna means grandmother in Italian,” he explains.

Lucy falls silent again, seemingly engrossed in her thoughts, and Enzo’s gaze goes back to the sleeping town, starting to himself feel numb and asleep. The bells ring four times. Wow, it’s been four, no, five hours I am at this party. He imagines that if the dark blanket shrouding the sky was swept away, they might have started seeing the first clarity of the day. It would be wonderful to see the dawn from there, throwing its orange glows on the town and the lake and the mountains, by a fair cloudless day.

“Have you noticed that only one of the two towers is completed?” Lucy asks quite abruptly.

Enzo slowly turns his head and takes a long look – his eyes sore and sleepy – at the thick, tall and gloomy frontage of the cathedral, covered with all sorts of statues and stone ornamentations, some of which are missing, their niches empty. After some inspections, he notices what she called the missing bell tower. “Oh, now I do. It surely has a lot of importance for our lovers, don’t you think?”

“Of course, of course,” she replies absentmindedly. She seems tired, but painfully excited with something, and her dark eyes are fiery. “This story,” she mutters, “it’s still running in my head!”

And then, she looks up at the sky. Enzo follows her gaze, and a large and fresh drop of water crashes on his chin, languidly stretching toward his neck. Then another, and another, and in no time it’s pouring heavily, while the wind has calmed down.

Lucy runs toward the porch of the cathedral. He follows her. There is plenty of room to shelter under it and watch the spectacle given by the rain. Enzo feels invigorated after his short run. The game that the lantern plays with the billions of water particles coming down is wondrous, and he contemplates it with the fascination of a child who sees the rain for the first time. A flow of water pouring out from the gutters on the roof and the walls of the cathedral, loudly spattering on the pavement. It’s one of these fierce and brief storms typical of the start of fall.

None of them is speaking. Enzo notices the grotesque characters of stones nesting under the porch, men and angels, demons and snakes, staring right in front of them and watching the immuable show of nature, in the same frozen position that was decided by the fancy of a carver eight centuries ago. Everything is old, petrified and aimlessly immense around them, and they are young, desperately young, tiny and frail creatures made of flesh, blood and hair. They are desperately in need for more life experience, but years will pass fast, in a flurry, and they will soon find themselves old and wise, and even weaker. And then, they won’t be anymore. Swallowed by darkness and nothingness. It’s as simple as that. Covered by a thick carpet of seasoned oak leaves like Anna. Or by a daisy flowerbed. Not that it matters. Forever lying under the earth. Forever indifferent. That’s the privilege of the dead. While these stone creatures will continue enjoying rainy nights and fairy dawns till the night of time. Stubbornly unappreciative and deadpan. Is that fair? Is that fair? Man’s art surviving to his body and mind and soul. The triumph of ideas and crafts over life. A way to reach immortality? Or a constant reminder of their helplessly temporal existence?

Slightly shaken by his reflections, he remembers his fear of darkness when he was a small kid. Sombre houses and dark moors used to terrify him, and it was a nightmare to sleep all alone in Catania, in his dark narrow room with a view on the slyly threatening mount from the small window. Trying to chase away those bleak ideas, he takes a glance at Lucy’s face, which is dimly lit. She’s still engrossed by the performance of the rain, or maybe by her own thoughts? Streams of water are dripping on the glittering cobbles, right in front of the porch. She looks worryingly frail and weak now. He didn’t notice that she was so thin before. The stone is smooth and cool he notices, thoughtfully exploring one of the grotesque creatures with one of his hands. All at once, he is struck by sort of a… paternal instinct? He wonders how it would feel like to hold that girl firmly against his chest, her cheek on his cheek, her wet hair along his neck, her warmness melting in his warmness, strangers in an unknown city, lost in the thicknesses of a very dark night. It would be marvelous and natural and comforting!

He’s not slow to discard these thoughts. If his arms won’t capture this odd girl, his right hand will, at least. He rummages through his pocket, extracting his notebook and pen, suppressing a yawn, with the idea of immortalizing her with her strange meditative expression and her passionately lively eyes, contrasting with the frozen and artificially expressive creatures of the millenary stones, and wondering of the best technique to also show the violence of the pouring rain. He looks up and notices with disappointment that the rain has quieted down. While the first rudimentary lines are fiercely troubling the whiteness of the paper, he takes discreet glances at her facial and body features and starts putting them down.

He is soon interrupted in the midst of his work; from the corner of his eyes, he notices that Lucy has abruptly stepped away from the porch’s sheltering roof. She turns around and he looks up at her: “The rain has almost stopped. I must really go now. I’m so, so, tired. It was fun meeting you Enzo.”

She gives him her hand, which he firmly shakes after hiding his drawing material in his waterproof jacket. She lives close to Bessières, somewhere in the upper city, and she rushes in that direction.

All of a sudden, Enzo feels tremendously tired, and weary of their long conversation, even not having enough energy for regretting to leave the drawing wholly incomplete. All what he did during the day is heavily weighing on his legs and buzzing in his head. The tour, the reading, the swimming, the fight with Mehdi, and the long and troublesome party. He moves like a sleepwalker down to the station where he has left his bike, and pedals to home along the lake. Several fiery showers wash him out, and despite all his fatigue and blurriness of mind, he feels vaguely glad that he brought his waterproof jacket to protect his sketching notebook.

He arrives when the first lights of dawn start seeping through the inky sky. Entering the apartment, he stumbles on an empty can before turning the light on. The floor is littered with small pieces of broken glass, and his soaked sneakers stick to the grime left by all the spilled beer. He unlocks his room, completely indifferent in his exhaustion, with only one idea. Changing his drenched clothes and dropping on the bed.

 

Monday morning, the first day of university. His body is still numb after the crazy Friday, but its memory has the wooly consistence of a foggy and surreal dream. Enzo tackles his first lessons with motivation and fierceness. Learning is his natural environment, and he feels that an era of permanent sunlight has opened on his life. His fears are all shut in a closet, as long as he doesn’t put himself under social pressure. But he has decided to take it easy on this aspect after all the experiences he accumulated in the first weeks of his stay, especially at that welcome party, where he was about to leave some feathers. Desperately striving to meet new friends, girls in particular, leads to no good, putting him in a situation of weakness and self-contempt. The best attitude to take is to be open toward other people without rushing it down or trying to force bolted locks.

Enzo is determined to try understanding everything in class, to have more free time to dedicate for his own whims and desires. The majority of lectures seem very bright and interesting on this first day of school, and he rejoices about all the plans he has for the year and for his stay in Switzerland, reckoning that surely it will be a very important year of his existence. All these thoughts are still boiling and colliding in his mind, but he already feels a steely will edging through, ready to carry him toward the grandiose objectives and aspirations of his life. How, he doesn’t know yet…

 

You can continue your reading with chapter 4 – first weeks of class