“Jeez, those gargoyles give me the creeps...”
“You’re kidding right? They’re like the ones off the Disney film!”
“Yeah, exactly. The second we turn our back on them they’re going to jump on us and take us to another time and place, and knowing my luck I’ll end up in the middle of nowhere, or, something.”
“Eh, Sparky, I think that’s Doctor Who.”
Dammit. That’s my reputation scratched concerning the best of British television – I really should have known that. Freakin’ weeping angels gave me nightmares for days. Not that I was gonna mention that in the middle of the cathedral.
Don’t get me wrong, the architecture and sheer, grand majesty of Notre Dame was stunning; I noticed Melanie’s jaw drop as we entered under the Portal of the Last Judgement (what a name for a fancy front door eh?) and Ethan, who was walking behind me, stopped at exactly the same time as I stopped, so we didn’t even collide into each other in our amazement – great minds think alike! Of course, the people behind weren’t so tuned in, and we might have ruffled a few French feathers, but god it was worth it to stand there and take in the absolute beauty of the space (creepy statues excluded).
Aaand three, two, one... MAN UP.
Statues? Pfffft. Beauty? PFFFFT. Alright, let’s go light a candle, take a photo and pick up a leaflet. Bada bing, bada boom, buy the T shirt.
“WOW! This is SO worth the rain!”
At times where everyone else falls into a hushed silence, Erica seems to get louder. I gotta say, the echoes were impressive, and really effective at attracting the attention of the majority of tourists we were sharing the walkway with. We hadn’t spotted any other teenage groups like us, desperate to inject some culture into their gap year – there were plenty of families, all shapes and sizes (and languages) and many alone who looked like a sort of hardcore pilgrim, those who came to pray here regularly.
They were probably the ones who didn’t look around at Erica, unlike the rest who were torn between amusement and irritation at the other sentences coming out of her mouth - I give you “Ooh, look at the colours!” and “Oh my god, it’s JUST like in the movie!” as examples. Referring, that is, to The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, and not any kind of historical drama. It didn’t help that she was oh-so-elegantly dressed in a black leather “biker” jacket - currently accidentally brushing off the water droplets onto anyone she happened to brush shoulders with – with black knee length boots, denim jeans and a sort of green fitted shirt that luckily wasn’t too wet, because I was pretty sure that would attract even more attention.
Every “Shhhh!” from the rest of us only made her flounce further on ahead as we made our way round, ooohing and ahhing at the stone effigies that, Ethan was right, really did look too peaceful to be sneaking up on us from behind. However, every step further away meant that Erica was speaking louder and louder over her shoulder, until it got too ridiculous even for her; when we met at the grand organ under the gigantic Jesus (I never thought I’d even think that sentence) she’d calmed down a bit, and the atmosphere was starting to hit her too.
“It’s really...restful in here, isn’t it?” She was sitting on one of the many benches, embossed with a plaque that was probably never read. Melanie joined her and took her hand; I never really got why girls did that, but this was one of those moments where it really seemed, right. Me and Ethan were left to stand in the current, as it were, of people who meandered by, some pausing like us, and others obviously in a hurry to get to lunch.
“It reminds me of my Gran.” Ethan barely spoke, and yet we all heard him.
“She used to take me to this huge church thing with these huge windows, and we’d walk round together, and we’d pray for Grandad up in Heaven. When I went back by myself, last year, everything was smaller, and duller. This, this is like that again, all big and bright, when I was little.”
He wasn’t looking at us; he was looking up at the huge circular window through which streamed the bright cold light of the gloomy day outside. None of us had ever heard Ethan talk like this before. I sneaked a look at the girls, who are generally better with emotional stuff than I am, but their faces were fixed upon his, and Erica was nodding silently. I saw Melanie squeeze her hand and shifted awkwardly from foot to foot in the silence, looking down at the floor.
Not a good idea.
“We’re standing on a grave?! That is NOT cool!”
I jumped to the side, luckily not jumping into Ethan’s reverie but instead disturbing a small candleholder which had been occupying the space that I had just taken up, snapping him out of it just as effectively whist managing to spill candles all over the floor and on yet more graves, that I spotted with a shudder dotted all round the walkway.
“Oh SHI – I’m sorry, escusez-moi –“
I could literally feel stares from people walking by as I crouched down and tried to fit the candles back into their holders again – one was still flickering faintly, but as I propped it back up it whispered out. Was I in a movie or something?
Way to ruin the moment Sparx.