“Realization and recognition of success. An end to hardship or suffering. Luxury and refinement. Gracious living with appreciation for the arts and the finer things.” Steve Luca via Japaridze Tarot
That evening was the last where Selene, Caer, Sofia, Dmitri, and Nico would all be together in Nice. The following morning, Caer, Sofia, and Dmitri would make their way back to the States, while Nico would head back to Paris. Though Selene still wasn’t feeling at her best, she wouldn’t be able to live with herself if she didn’t spend at least one last time with her friends. They made their way to the Tramway and once they got off, they were en route to rue Chauvain for a restaurant called Le Boudoir. As they entered, their host walked towards them. To Selene’s disbelief, it was Tristán. “Tristán!” Selene exclaimed. “Great to see you.” Caer, Sofia, Dmitri and Nico all remained silent. “These must be your friends.” Tristán added. “Eek! I apologize about that. Yes, these are my friends. This is their last night in Nice so we thought we’d get something to eat to spend some time together without the fuss and messiness of cooking.” Tristán chuckled. “Follow me.”
Dmitri had called ahead of time and they were seated near one of the restaurant windows. Selene, Caer, and Sofia sat on a large leather upholstered seat against one of the restaurant walls. Across from them, Dmitri and Nico sat in purple cloth upholstered chairs. While the bunch ordered away with decadent meals, Selene opted for a small salad and some tea. Though she was feeling well enough to be present with her friends, she didn’t want to jeopardize the moment by making adventurous food choices too soon. Tristán bid the crew farewell prior to his shift ending. They all talked, laughed, and reminisced on moments of a near and distant past. After the meal they headed back to the flat in preparation for departure.
The following morning, Selene bid her friends farewell. “Thank you all for making your way out here. It’s been replenishing to reconnect and see you all again. I apologize for not being able to spend as much time as I wanted to spend with you all. If you feel the need to head to a more tropical destination and join me in Sri Lanka, please do not hesitate.” They all laughed. They hugged. They kissed. Then, they were gone. The silence their absence left in the apartment was slightly haunting. Though Selene had spent the days prior in silence, knowing that the days’ end promised their return was comforting. Today was different. She knew that not only was their lack of return guaranteed, but she didn’t know when their next reunion would occur – well, with the exception of the few days she was going to spend with Nico in Paris. Their communication would become a series of impersonal exchanges via phone applications, web teleconferencing, phone calls, and the occasional exchange of gifts for birthdays and major holidays.
Without much hesitation, Selene grabbed the apartment keys and made her way to Promenade du Paillon. As she walked through the 12 hectares and 1.2 km space, she admired the palm trees, the assorted greenery, the fountains, and the reflecting pool. Along the way, she stopped by a sculpture that resembled an opened horseshoe. There were two friends sitting in the middle basking in the warmth of the sun. She made her way to a nearby cluster of trees and sat under a palm tree in the shade. After a few breaths of reprieve, she got up and continued to walk. Finally, she made it to the ocean side and stared out into the breeze. Shortly after, she felt a tap on her shoulder – Giuseppe.
In excitement, Selene jumped off her feet and hugged him. “Giuseppe! What a pleasant surprise. How is your brother?” With a sad expression in his eyes he responded, “I don’t think he’ll be with us for much longer, but he appears to be holding on. He has pancreatic cancer and the prognosis looks rather bleak. How are you, dear? I heard you weren’t feeling stellar.” Selene nodded. “I’m sorry to hear it. Eh – you know, healing.” Selene responded as she felt a chill up her spine. “Thank you, dear. So goes the cycle of life doesn’t it? One day you’re young and doe-eyed ready to take on the world. Crafting and scripting dreams on parchments only to realize that the ink runs out in the end and there’s not way to replenish it.” Giuseppe and Selene walked and continued to talk about the cycle of life and death that’s intricately woven into the human narrative. “Most of the time, these cycles occur in their metaphoric form. I’m sure you’ve experienced multiple – when you left graduate school, with the loss of a lover, illness, when you no longer click with friends, the change of jobs – metaphoric death riddles our existence. And I have an inkling that you know how necessary it is order for life to continue flourishing. What do you say we pay some proper gardens a visit? Selene nodded.
They boarded a bus route headed to the airport and got off on Boulevard René Cassin. Upon entering Parc Phoenix, they were greeted by a fork in the road – to the right hand, they had the museum of Asian arts and to the other a walkway around the lake. Giusepee headed towards the walkway and Selene followed. They didn’t walk very far when they stopped at the Fontaine musicale. As music played and Giuseppe told Selene about the history of the park, her attention shifted to what appeared to be the statue of a woman. The statue stood tall amongst the beauty of the garden. The statue’s skin had a blue hue with beautifully lavished decorations, which blended with the orange sun- blue clouded sky in the background. Her garments were brightly colored, textured, and intense. Fuchsia and magenta silks were interwoven with pieces of light red tulle. Towards the front of the dress, a scene painted of the gardens with a night sky called to the attention of all those whom walked by. Throughout the skirt of the dress, there were flowers accentuating the beauty of the surrounding garden. There were red roses, white bell flowers, and pink carnations. She wore Sienna-brown shoes. At the top she was covered with an assortment of flowers and wing patters. On her right shoulder, there lay a flamingo who sat on a bright pink ball. In her hands, she held a mirror in the shape of a shell. Upon her head, there was a large headdress made of Japanese kimono silk and a large orange english tea rose. Suspended in the right air next to her, flew a monarch butterfly. Coming from the flowers in the her shoes, an olive green snake walked with pride – head lifted. “Selene? Are you still here, Selene?”
Selene looked away from the statue and up to Giuseppe. Giuseppe smiled and continued to talk about the hundred birds that lived near the lake, the Green Diamond greenhouse, the caimans, the iguanas, the exotic birds. They continued walking and made their way towards the Pyramides. In front of them, exposed, was the Grand Pré, serving as a stage to the Gran de Serre Diamant Vert, one of the largest greenhouses in Europe. Upon Selene’s eyes encountering the sight, she intensely asked Giuseppe, “Giuseppe, how come you never told me of Freya?”