Pete looked incredulously at the winged serpenty-lions gushing water into the fountain. According to his online guide, they were supposed to be dragons. But the heads were definitely lions. And the bodies were snakes. What do you get when you cross a lion and a snake? Not a bloody dragon that’s for sure. He was prepared to concede that the wings were dragonesque, but the sculptor had clearly not been watching the same films as Pete when it came to fire-breathing reptiles.
Then again, the fountain had been around since the middle of the nineteenth century, a long time before the Hollywood homogenisation of accepted mythology.
Erroneous dragons or not, Pete had always found the Fontaine St Michel to be an impressive site. It hadn’t changed much since his gap year, though he noted that the internet cafe he had frequented then was no longer trading. Looking down at his 4G smartphone , he realised that internet cafes were probably redundant these days. Conversely, the second hand bookstore, where had had purchased many a Molière in his year abroad, was thriving. There was possibly something profound in that, but it escaped Pete for the moment.
What didn’t escape Pete was the time. If his hand-held device was to be believed, Estelle was already late. Hadn’t that always been the case though? Punctuality had never been a strength of his little ‘Parisienne’.
Had she found that nickname endearing or annoying? Pete honestly couldn’t remember.
It had been so long since he had seen her. If her social media profiles were to be believed, she was recognisably the belle fille he remembered her to be, but then his own web presence belied his increasing rotundness, courtesy of more than a few corporate lunches in the intervening years.
It didn’t matter, his physical appearance was the least of the changes he had gone through in the last decade and a half. But wasn’t that why he was here? To rekindle some of what he had lost. Amanda had left him because of his lack of spontaneity, but what was this if not spontaneous?
Still Estelle was nowhere to be seen. He remonstrated with himself for choosing such a popular tourist destination in which to affect this reunion. There was every chance he wouldn’t identify her in the swelling mass of sightseers.
The serpent/lion hybrids continued to expel water, indifferent to Pete’s predicament.