I set my hands lightly on the railing, looking out across the Champ de Mars. Letting my mind wander in the stormy sky, I stared at the pale glow that was the sun struggling through a thick veil of clouds. I felt small and close to the large sky above me. It was a shame that I hadn't been able to catch France's sky on a clear day, but this was just as beautiful. Just in a different way.
The clouds looked like they were about to burst. It was probably about to rain.
"Marvelous, isn't it?" an english voice said behind me. I turned to a man. He was hunched over and had most of his face hidden by a scarf and wide-brimmed hat.
I smiled, cocking my head, trying look at his eyes. "Very."
He stepped up next to me and rested his gloved hands on the railing. "Pardon me for intruding, but it's not many who can appreciate anything but a clear day."
"M-hm." Grinning widely, I asked jokingly, "Can you read my mind? Or have I been talking to myself again?"
He turned his face to me and I jumped. The space around his eyes was deeply scarred and his eyes were a bloodshot green. If the rest of his face was like that, I could see why he hid himself. "You've been standing here staring at the sky for the past twenty minutes, while most people don't offer it a second glance," he replied, the edges around his eyes crinkling as if he were smiling.
I grinned sheepishly. "You don't get to visit France every day."
We stood in silence for a few minutes. "'Once you can look at the sky without fear, you know you will be happy again.' Do you know who said that?" he abruptly muttered, as though to himself.
"No idea," I said, not even bothering to root through my scattered brain.
"Anne Frank. A young girl, true, but what she says is remarkably wise. Tell me, can you look at the sky without fear?" he asked.
"Of course I can," I scoffed.
Looking into the sky, I suddenly felt so puny. I felt insignifigant, fragile. I felt so scared. Scared of the sky, just as Anne Frank had said. It would take strength to look up and stand resolutely, proudly.
"No I can't," I laughed.
"M. You want to do great things, right? Well, before you can do those things, learn to befriend the sky, not fear it. Eiffel could never have built this tower if he were afraid of heights, correct?"
He nodded. He pulled down his scarf and smiled at me. His face looked as though someone had taken a chisel to it, hacking away every smooth bit of skin there was. "Of course not. There is a lesson to be learned from that, isn't there?"
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a pen. Cheap, probably. Sticky ink. A simple ballpoint pen. He held it out to me. "Maybe it'll be easier to face the sky when it's clear."
"Er...thanks." I took the pen, confused.
He touched the edge of his hat with two fingers. "Lovely to meet you."
As he walked away I drew a sun on my palm, hoping to be able to remember what he had said to me. It was random, true, but something I felt I should not just dispose it as rubbish.
I idly drew a cloud next to the sun, thinking. When I looked up at the sky, the sun was peeking through the clouds.