December 22, 2011
"Mum the suitcase's stuck! Help!" I cried, mum came running with her stiletto heels clicking along the freezing gravel and pulled up the handle.
"Goodness Belle, why does it happen every time?" Mum growled, fixing her bun that had hair sticking up at different directions. I gripped on the handle hard and let out a long sigh. Visiting the Willow's was the absolute worst. Their kids were snobby and bratty, and we'd go shopping for three days just to find the perfect gifts for them.
"Get in the cab Belle, hurry. You wouldn't want aunt Mary to wait now would you?" Dad inquired. He helped with the suitcase and hopped in the cab along with my bother Tommy. He had his game console on his hands and he was constantly pressing the same button. His thumb turned a bright red and it was swollen.
"Just three more years," I said to myself.
* * *
"Look Belle! Aren't those lights pretty?" Angelina chirped, I rubbed my eyes and peeked out; an array of warm and vivid colors splashed throughout the town - a palette of different sorts of colors filled the atmosphere, the Christmas lights flickered on and off - lighting up the trees and topiary surrounding the road. Beholding upon us was a giant Christmas tree with large bronze tinsels and fake snow flurry, a star wasn't placed on top yet.
"This is the traditional Christmas Market that's held every year for Christmas in Notre Dame." The cabby driver explained.
I was to take care of the kids tonight. Perfect. Four kids.
"What's that golden shop over there?" I asked, Howard was clinging on my shoulder, plucking the ends of my sweater. I swat him away.
"That's a bell shop. Many people believed that when you buy a belle and keeps it for more than three years, your wish will come true." The driver explained. I snorted and leaned back to relax. There was a festival and I wasn't going to miss out.
"You kids alright with us going to the festival?" I announced. They were jumping around screaming and froze in position.
"Will there be ice cream?" Tommy asked,
"And toys?" They were all in at it, getting pumped up by the second.
"We'll be here, um..."
"Right, Paul. I'll ring you once we're finished." He nodded and stopped by a crowd of people. Renting a cabby driver was so much easier, especially one who speaks English. We took another one earlier and he started grumbling to himself loudly and ended up crying. My dad had to stop the cab and tip him to stop him from crying.
"Alright kids, you have about two hours to go do whatever." I handed them each 5 euros and they scurried off.
"Meet back here in the same exact position at 9!" I yelled, but i was sure none of them heard me.
I slipped both hands into my pockets and scanned my surroundings. It was crowded and there were families everywhere. Too bad mine had to go to a special dinner event and I had to babysit. My eyes stopped at the bell shop. Its glistening jingle of bells aroused me, luring me in. I bit my bottom lip and shook my head. Letting a sigh, I walked toward the shop.
As I entered, the smell of copper filled my nostrils - the place was astounding. The glimmering golden color was everywhere, it was blinding yet beautiful. Not many people were around - only a couple of adults. They were mostly elders, so is the manager.
"Welcome, I hope you see something you like." Her warm smile eased up the knots in my stomach. I smiled back at her.
"Thank you, your shop is really pretty." She beamed at my remark and she offered a hand. She led me to a section where there was a bronze iron bar with holes drilled into it. There were a number of small bells, large bells, medium bells filling the hold one by one. They were each tied up in a ribbon.
"These bells are used for granting wishes." She explained.
"That's not true, is it?" I asked. She turned around and laughed.
"It doesn't necessarily mean it grants you wishes. It's just a matter of hope and trust." I raised an eyebrow at her.
"So like a placebo effect?" This time she frowned.
"I'd like to believe so, actually." Her frowned turned into a smile.
"But you wouldn't believe the number of miracles that's happened to the people." She handed me a small, pink bell with a golden string attached to it.
"Tie this up the iron bar and wait for someone to return it to you." She said, walking away. I fidgeted with my hands and tied it up anyway, walking out of the store. That lady was crazy. I was never stepping foot inside the shop ever again.
* * *
I finished my ice cream in a matter of minutes, somehow the cold weather gives me a certain craving for ice cream. Rubbing my hands together, I stood up. I passed by a section where mysterious artists glared at me. What, don't like the dull grey stockings and sweaters? Your loss. Helena, the youngest, jumped to me and she was crying. Her siblings joined her along with Tommy.
"Helena, what's wrong?" I asked, she pouted and pointed at the ice cream vendor.
"Icy, Belle!" She sucked on her thumb and I sighed.
"You guys have to share, where's your money?" She shrugged and went back to her siblings, dashing off.
"Belle?" A husky voice was heard from behind and I spun around. There was a boy in a black sweater paired with brown jeans and a beanie.
"Um, yeah? Who are you?" His face lit up, oh wow darn he was adorable.
"I, uh, found your bell." Wait. What. How? When?
"Where did you find it?" I asked, taking it back from him. The knot was loose and the string was broken in half.
"I found it near the sidewalk by the bell shop, it has your name on it." He rubbed his neck and sighed. I snatched it away from him.
"Um, so, do you want to sit?" He questioned, gesturing me to sit right beside him. I blinked but sat anyways.
"Are you from around here?" He asked, his bright eyes glistening.
"Um, no. I'm from America."
"Ah, oui.... Uh, I'm... Edgar, I work around here as a painter." He shook my hand, sturdy and firm.
"Wow really? C-can I see your work?" His hazel eyes instantly warmed up from my interest.
He slipped a large sketchpad on my lap and I gazed the pages.
'Mes Inspirations' was written in bold on the cover page. I smiled, flipping one page at a time. There were pictures of flowers and small cafe drawings on each one of these pages. After flipping several pages, it was blank.
"Yes, I know. I've been in a slump lately and nothing's been interesting. So I've stopped." I looked at him.
"These are beautiful, Edgar." A cab stopped in front of us and there was Paul, he pointed an index finger to his wrist, indicating it was time.
"But I have to go." I ran towards the cab where the kids were already inside.
"Will I see you again?" He yelled. I froze, turning to him.
"You'll be seeing me again," I promised. He gave me a satisfying smile and nodded, waving goodbye.