The opening sentences set the Parisian atmosphere.
"The two friends were getting near the end of their dinner. Through the cafe windows they could see the Boulevard, crowded with people. They could feel the gentle breezes which are wafted over Paris on warm summer evenings and make you feel like going out somewhere, you care not where, under the trees, and make you dream of moonlit rivers, of fireflies and of larks."
But the story quickly takes a more thoughtful turn as one man (perhaps 45 years old) laments growing old. Where he formerly felt full of life on such an evening, he now experiences pangs of regret. His older friend, who is thinner and more lively, remarks that he, personally, had aged without even noticing.
"As one sees oneself in the mirror every day, one does not realize the work of age, for it is slow, regular, and it modifies the countenance so gently that the changes are unnoticeable."
However, he continues, the same cannot be true for women:
"And the women, my friend, how I pity the poor beings! All their joy, all their power, all their life, lies in their beauty, which lasts ten years."
The man goes on to recount a three month love affair and how, upon a chance meeting twelve years later, he failed to recognize the woman. A comment from the woman causes him to take a good look in the mirror and, finally, come to terms with his own altered appearance.
"At night, alone, at home, I stood in front of the mirror for a long time, a very long time. And I finally remembered what I had been, finally saw in my mind's eye my brown mustache, my black hair and the youthful expression of my face. Now I was old. Farewell!"
I loved this story! It resonated so strongly with me. I am "of a certain age" and, as I celebrate a birthday later this week, think not only about that increasing number, but of changes reflected in my mirror. You may read the story for yourself here.
Short Story Monday is hosted by John Mutford at The Book Mine Set. Paris in July is sponsored by Karen and Tamara.