Lucas Lallemant was a really strange child.
He didn't cry the day he was born. The doctors thought he was dead, but he wasn't. He was just staring at his parents and the doctors with his huge blue eyes. Then he sighed like he was dissapointed with his condition and slept.
Lucas didn't had any siblings of friends. But he had a lot of imiginary friends (for instance the Star-Boy, Captain McAllister of the Purple Sea, President DongBong, Lady Lola and Lady Popa- the twins).
His mother commited suicide in the day of his fourth birthday. She jumped from the highest window of their house while Lucas was blowing his birthday candles.
His father was depressed since then, so Lucas learned to live on his own. He learned to do chores, cook and shop in the local market. Even if he was just a short pale boy with hypnotizing eyes he took care of his father, and himself.
Because the only thing his father cared about was his decorative dwarf. It belonged to Lucas' mother since she was a little girl and it was the only thing she really loved. When she died his father made a really ugly memorial on their garden and putted the dwarf on the top of it. Lucas always hated it. His father loved it. He said that it was the last remnant of his wife.
Lucas wasn't unhappy. He was a happy child. He liked to talk with his imiginary friends, walk with them in the park (even if Lady Popa was really embarassing sometimes), he liked to make castles made of biscuits, stalk the neighbors with his silver spyglass. He had a strong feeling of justice and he was pleased when he was punishing rude people. He had a lot of fun in the garden of their house exploring and discovering new stuff like a whole family of frogs- a rare spiece. He enjoyed going to the library and reading about other people's adventures, and he really liked to play the piano.
His mother was a pianist. They kept her piano after her death and Lucas decided to learn when he was eight. Through the practice books he quickly learned how to play, and soon his tiny fingers were running on the keys.
One day his father slapped him when he heard Lucas playing. So Lucas was playing when his father was going out, but his father was never out.
Lucas decided to built a special world around him to protect himself. A world in which adults were friendly giants, cars were big annoying bugs, shadows talked, the Lucas in the other side of the mirror was just his annoying little brother, their garden was an unexplored jungle, books were big like houses and everyone played the piano. Also pianos were alive creatures and the keys were their teeth.
On his 17th birthday Lucas left his house. He had never left his small town before and he was happy to finally go to an actual adventure like a real explorer.
''Be careful Lucas. Times are hard for dreamers.'' His father told him before Lucas left the house.
The train drove him in the middle of Paris, a chaotic and loud beehive full of colours and noise. Lucas was excited to be there, to finally see the world and not just reading about it from the comfort of the Public Library back in his small town.
He found a little appartment in Montmartre and he settled his life there. He filled his new home with books, and lots paintings he bought from cheap vintage bazaars. The paintings were nice because all of them talked and Lucas talked to them too. Also he collected little things he found that no one noticed. Like the wheel of a children-bike. Or some Arabic Books with nice cover. Small miniatures of ballerinas.
They were his little treasures. And he was collecting them like crazy.
Then he found a job in a small cafe, a little farther from his house.
Lucas was happy. His world was working like a clockwork machine. He had everything he needed and he could dream with his eyes open without anyone judging him. He was protected. He was happy.
But he was lonely.
He talked to the paintings mostly (the girl with the red hat, the boy reading a book, the girls sitting beside a lake and many more...) and he occasionally talked to the people of the cafe.
But he was still lonely.
Sometimes he was thinking that his life lacked of love.
''Nonsense'' the girl with the red hat shouted then from her golden frame ''No one needs love. Love is for weak people. And we are not weak!''
The other paintings nodded from their own frames. They always agreed with her. She was the most fierce and irritating of them all.
Lucas agreed with her too, most of the time.
Yes, he had his appartment, and his job, and his books, and his paintings his old phonograph and his collection of shells. But when he was looking around he always saw pairs holding hands. Handsome boys kissing adorable girls. Girls being in love with each other and boys writing love letters to other boys.
Everyone and everything was in pairs. Even socks. (Not all of his socks anyway because sometimes he losed some)
And he was alone. Sometimes he didn't mind. And sometimes he did.
Sometimes after his dinner, when he turned off the lights and laid on his bed he really needed someone. He felt the need burning his stomach and making him dizzy. Moments like this the paintings were shouting to each other, the lights were flickering, the Eiffel tower was melting like an ice-cream.
He need someone to sleep with him, to warm his back, to hold his hand and touch his face and his lips.
Lucas fell asleep.
On the 21th of January Lucas Lallemant's fate was about to change, for ever.
He woke up early like everyday, but he was completely ignoring how special this day was. He made tea, he chit-chatted with the painting of the girl holding a white dog with a broken leg, he read two chapters of his book and he got dressed. Like always he wore black trousers, black boots, a grey shirt, a red flannel over it and a long red scarf. He took his bag and went out.
He had to use the subway to get to the Cafe. He liked the station because he got to see The guy.
The guy was just a guy sitting in the opposite platform, the train line separated them. Lucas saw him everyday for the last two years. The guy was always sitting on a bench with a drawing pad on his knees looking around drawing everything and everyone. Lucas couldn't see what The guy was drawing. It was too far for details.
Lucas liked to watch The guy draw. He looked so concentrated and calm. The guy was handsome. Lucas couldn't see him clearly but he was close enough to see that he had a beautiful symmetrical face, shiny bright blue eyes and messy hair in the colour of honey. He always wore the same classy beige coat with some badges pinned on its collar.
He looked like one of the old Hollywood superstars.
The guy was always sitting on the other side so they'd never spoke to each other. Lucas was sure The guy had not even noticed him. Lucas could just go to the left subway station and sit beside him, make small talk like every normal person does with other normal people, maybe the would exchange phone numbers and hang out or something. It's called a reality check. The last thing Lucas wants.
So he never did. He always entered the right subway station. He was always separated from The guy, watching him from distance.
But on this day on the 21th of January The guy was sitting in Lucas' side. Drawing, like always. Lucas almost slipped when he saw him. He was sitting on his side. On the bench Lucas always sat.
It was frustating. It was outrageous! It was kind of... exciting.
Lucas sat beside the guy, his heart beating like a drum. The guy raised his gaze and his eyes rested on Lucas' face.
''Bonjour!'' He said on a happy tone.
Lucas tongue was tied. He wanted to open his mouth and untie his tongue but he would probably look mad. He couldn't talk or move. He just looked at the direction of the subway clock.
The guy smiled to Lucas ''How are you?''
Lucas nodded. His face was burning, black fume coming out of his ears. Did he had a head or a squeaking keetle in the place of his head? The guy smiled again and did some strange movements with his hands.
Lucas finally opened his mouth and talked. ''What?''
''Oh I'm sorry. I thought that you were deaf. My cousin is deaf so i know sign language. You aren't deaf are you?''
Lucas swallowed and nodded negatively. A train passed.
''I love the subway'' The guy said, always smiling. ''I see a lot of faces everyday and i like to draw them.'' He had a visionary look on his eyes. The look of a dreamer. ''The subway is interesting. It's like a library of faces, you pick the ones you like and you draw them. You pick the ones you don't like and you don't draw them. Everyone has a different expression. It's really inspiring.''
Lucas looked at the notebook on his knees. It was a large black one, full of small sketches. All of the sketches were tiny faces. Hundreds of them.
Another one train passed. It was the train to the Cafe. Lucas stood up and leaved the guy behind. When he looked at him through the window of the train, The guy was waving at Lucas.
Lucas still did not know The guy's name.
Lucas worked in ''Cafe Polaris''. A small but warm place in a corner of Montmartre.
He saw the same people everyday and made coffee for the same people everyday and did the same chores everyday but he didn't mind.
The owner of the Cafe was Imane, a muslim woman with penetrating gaze. Lucas liked her. She was interesting.
Imane liked looking straight at peoples eyes, decorating her house, watching the clouds and the smell of rain. Imane didn't like injustice and the smell of piss on the toilets of the Cafe.
Basile was a creepy guy who came everyday on the Cafe just to stalk Daphne. The other waitress. Since he first came, he was always there. Every morning until evening, just trying to talk to Daphne.
Daphne liked bubbles, shopping and little kids. She didn't like men with beards, body hair and smelly breaths.
Basile liked Daphne and watching porn. Basile didn't like hot water and long books.
''I'm losing my mind'' Daphne told Lucas in front of the coffee machine while they were filling cups ''He comes everyday and he's... just staring at me. I tried to talk to him or something but he was just looking at me, his jaw hanging open wide.''
''Don't give him to much attention'' Lucas said ''And he will leave.''
''I'm not giving him attention! Not at all! He's just creepy and weird and...''
''Enough small talk!'' Imane shouted from the other side of the counter ''Back to work!''
The ring over the door jingled and an other familiar costumer came in, Manon. She was a travel guide so she traveled for weeks and when she came back she always stopped on ''Cafe Polaris'' to tell her stories to Lucas and Daphne.
''Hello!'' Manon greeted them all, and dragged her suitcase inside.
''Hello Manon.'' Arthur greeted her from his table, another one frequent costumer.
''Where are you coming from this time?'' Imane smiled while she was cleaning the empty tamples.
''I just came from Greece. I'm exhausted'' Manon answered ''But it was nice and I was with a really calm group so it was perfect!''
Manon liked red lipgloss, fashion magazines, touching her boyfriends jawline and the smell of books. Manon didn't like old ladies who always complained, men who spit on the road and the smell of lavender.
''Oooh Greece!'' Arthur said in a nostalgic tone ''I went there a couple of years ago. In Greece I wrote my second book ''If I was a broccoli''.
Arthur was an really untalented and inconspicuous writer. He wrote books no one read. Lucas tried to read one but it was too boring. Arthur was actually a nice guy. He liked to clean his glasses with a red fabric, bitter coffe, romantic novels and spicy food. He didn't like capitalism, dust on his hands and also cats.
''Did you met Aphrodite?'' Basile asked and sipped loudly his coffee. ''The goddess of love...'' He glanced at Daphne and winked. Daphne raised her middle finger to his direction.
Manon took out her beret and sat on a chair behind the bar. ''So how are you?''
''I'm trying to not kill Basile.'' Daphne said and wiped her hands on her apron ''I will probably fail.''
''And you Lucas?''
''I'm good'' Lucas smiled and made Manon's usual coffee.
It was a nice day like everyday. Manon told them about her trip. Arthur told them about his new inspiration for a book. Basile was constantly staring at Daphne. Meanwhile Daphne was complaining about something else. Other customers came. He made a lot of cups of coffee. The sun slowly faded and Lucas was allowed to go.
He untied his apron, took his bag and stepped outside of the Cafe. Daphne had a night shift, so he could go to watch a movie on Cinema. Alone. Like always.
''Hello!'' Someone greeted him. Lucas turned back and saw a sweet face. It was Chloe from the restaurant on the other side of the street. Lucas kind of knew her, she came oftenly to drink a coffee when she had a break.
Chloe liked orange flavored tea, theatre, romantic comedies and purple nail-polish. She didn't like crying babies and rude people- especially on the subway. In general Lucas always noticed the small details in someone.
''Hi'' Lucas smiled ''How are you?''
''I'm fine thanks! I wanted to ask you something...'' She glaned back at the Cafe Polaris. ''Do you know if Basile is... single?''
Lucas laughed. It was an unexpected question. ''I think he is... Do you like him?''
''Yes'' Chloe addmited ''And i was wondering if you can... talk to him. About me. Yesterday when I went there he didn't even look at me.''
''Well he has eyes only for Daphne.''
Chloe sighed. ''Anyway. Talk to him if you can.''
''I will try'' Lucas smiled ''Goodnight Chloe.''
''Goodnight'' she said and went back to her restaurant.
''I met The guy today.'' Lucas told to the paintings.
''Ooooh!'' They all exclaimed, besides the girl with the red hat. She just huffed. ''You meet him everyday the last two years. But you never talk to him.''
''This is true'' Said the lady with the apple. ''You should talk to him i think.''
''Yes, yes, yes Lulu! Talk to him!'' The little kids on the sunny street cheered through the painting. Lucas looked at the paintings on the wall and kindly smiled to them.
''But today I really met him''
Every painting gasped. ''How?''
''He was in my own side of the platform,'' Lucas explained ''He was sitting on my bench.''
''He was there to meet you!'' Said the girl with the dog. Her dog just barked.
Lucas laughed quietly. ''I don't think so''
''He will be there tomorrow, like always. Talk to him'' purposed the old lady. Lucas liked this painting. It was an old smiling lady knitting with red thread. She was always kind to him, unlike the girl with the red hat.
''We will see.''
Lucas took out his coat and then something fell from his pocket. It was a small but heavy grey rock from the river's shore. He put it in his pocket two days ago. Lucas liked going to the river on the park of Montmartre. He liked to throw rocks into the river and pretend that the rocks were his insecurities and the negativity of the world around him.
It never worked, but it was still nice to throw the rocks.
The rock slowly fell down like it was on slow-motion. With a great clang it landed on a loose wooden board on the floor. The board cambered a little.
Click. In one moment his life changed.
Lucas knew that this part of the floor squeaked a little but he never wondered why. He leaned on the floor and took out the board. A big red dusted notebook was under the floor, waiting to be found.
Lucas took out the notebook, put back the board and wiped the dust out of the cover. He oppened the first page.
Marie Calepin's Diary it was writen in calligraphic letters. Lucas softly turned the pages. They were a little yellow with some dark patches because all of those years under the floor and the terrible moisture. But they were also readable, telling the story of Marie Calepin a teenage girl who lived in Montmartre fifty years ago.
Lucas took the notebook to his bed, opened his favorite blue lamp beside his bed and red all of Marie's diary under the blue light.
Her words were overflowing his mind, her stories were full of passion and tragedy. Her parents were austere, two terrifying figures in her life. She described her carefree school days and the day her teacher hitted her because she was cheating on a test. The day she first kissed a special boy in the park. Her love story with this special boy who got killed in a fight and her depression after his death. How she decided to leave her house to go to Art School, how she spend her years drawing, meeting other artists and having a lot of lovers and how she came back when both of her parents died.
How she met the love of her life, and got married. She had a daughter and lived for four years on this appartment. Lucas was living in her appartment.
She was passionate and kind and... a pioneer. She used to be a indepented painter when people still thought that women only had to do chores and be their husband's trophy. But she was different and inspiring. She was a dreamer.
''...I wrote this diary since I was 15 and now I'm 23... This is the last page and after that I will hide this diary under the floor of our appartent hoping that someday someone will may find it. This was the story of my youth, and if you are reading this... Please keep this story with you. Please let my story to be a small part of your life. And whoever you are remember this: always be a good person. Be a good person and do good deeds and life will give you back a great treasure- the treasure of happiness. This is what I learned during these years. -Marie.''
Lucas left the diary on his bedside table. He closed the lamp and smiled in the dark.
He would find Marie Calepin. And he would give her diary back.
He was going to do what Marie said; good deeds. He was going to fix peoples lives and make their dreams real.
His whole world suddenly changed. It was a perfect moment of absolute certainty and bravery. The world was calm and simple. Lucas had a plan. Lucas had a purpose. Everything was different and new because an adventure was about to start. An actual adventure this time.
Lucas Lallemant had a fabulous destiny.