The fading sun gave the French countryside a vibrant glow. Soon we'd reach the city which would come alive with a night life I have only read about. My bland and predictable life back in Quebec would not fit in here, even if I can speak their language.
Stacie directed me down a row of vehicles of various sizes and colours. There were many shiny and tailored cars and smooth and shapely SUVs. Planted deep within the eye candies, was Stacie’s car. I had seen pictures and heard stories of this car. I knew it was hers before she motioned me towards it. The four door car had earned a name from Neale and Stacie. The Thing.
There was a trail of rust holding up the bottom strip of the car beneath the door frames. It contrasted nicely with the odd mint green colour. I am sure that in its day, The Thing, was a sight to behold. In fact, lined up with the beautiful vehicles in the parking lot, it still is a sight to behold.
Stacie unlocked her door and reached under her steering wheel to pop the trunk. I remembered her story of how the lock on the trunk door ate her car key. If I know my sister, the tiny remnant of that key is still wedged inside the lock.
As I approached the trunk to toss my suitcase in I braced myself for the scene I would find. Stacie, bless her heart, never had a clean car a day in her life. Unlike mine, that I was proud to admit you could eat a picnic off. When I heaved the suitcase up in the air I nearly lost my grip on it. The trunk was spotless.
“Stacie? What happened here?”
“Oh stop your fussing. Just put your suitcase on top of all the junk. I promise it won’t get eaten.” She started up her car and flipped her radio on.
“No Stac. You haven’t seen this?”
I leaned around the side of the trunk to the driver’s side. “Words cannot fully express.”
She huffed as her door creaked open. Her heavy footsteps made their way to the rear of the car. “Don’t tease me about my mess.” Then her eyes froze in a wide-eyed stare as she saw the immaculate trunk. “You can’t blame me for that.” Her high pitch voice burst into a laugh as it finished. “That must have been Neale.”
“That much I know to be true.” I laughed back.
I dropped my matching red suitcase and carry-on bag into the empty trunk. As I moved to close the trunk I nearly hit Stacie who still stood gaping at the pristine view.
“Enough already. You can give Mr. Amazing a sloppy kiss for all his hard work as soon as we get there.” I shoved her back an inch and made my first attempt to close the hood of the trunk. From Stacie’s vibrant stories on the phone, I knew it might take me several tries. It did.
Stacie and I giggled over her car tales as she manoeuvred her way out of airport parking and joined the busy traffic flow heading into the city. Neale and Stacie settled in a small, modest home in the south portion of Paris. The house is located only a short walk from the Hospital Saint Michel in the 15th arrondissement.
“Our drive will be about an hour, so you can put your seat back and rest, Cathie.”
“Because you are tired?”
For a moment I couldn’t fathom why she would think that. Then the reality of the last twenty-four hours flooded my mind. “I guess I should be.” I leaned against my passenger window to watch the lights of Paris inch closer to me. “However, you only see Paris for the first time once right?”
“Maybe you should close your eyes now and we can see it for the first time tomorrow.”
I shook my head with determination. “Not a chance. You are driving me right through the centre of it tonight. I have waited too long for this, Sis.”
Stacie let out an agreeable huff of air and a nod. “You are the bossy older sister, after all.”
The time went by quickly as Stacie rattled on about all the plans she has for me over the next ten days. It made me tired thinking about it all, but I knew we would cherish every moment we could together.
When Stacie met Neale at a Youth For Christ missions conference five years ago, I said a tiny prayer. ‘Lord please don’t let him take her from me.’
However Mitch and I were so happy and lost in each other I hardly let the words rest. After Stacie married Neal and moved overseas to his home, I felt the tinge of fear and sadness return. Yet, how could I deny her the happiness I experienced with Mitch. Besides my sister’s adventurist spirit needed an outlet. Our home town lacked inspiration and intrigue. I had always known Stacie would end up somewhere exciting. I guess the Lord knew that too.
So it wasn’t until Mitch’s death three years ago that I fully became aware of the hole Stacie left in my heart by leaving. I do not blame Neale for taking her from me. Or God, for that matter. I only wish I had half of her sense of adventure. If there ever is another man in my life he will have a horrendous time even changing the brand of dishwasher detergent I buy.
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