The sweet scent of freshly baked bread rode a crisp wind to greet me, gently pulling me from my intended path to the train station. Nowhere to be in a hurry, I let the comforting aroma lead me to a nearby bakery. Perfectly uniform pastries lined the inside of the snow-framed window, their appearance as enticing as their scent had suggested. Beyond the pane, an elegantly dressed woman directed a shop assistant’s hands towards various loaves of bread, her French only carrying so far as my ears, before falling asleep in the empty, snow-covered street.
I was attempting to convert the cost of an almond croissant from francs to dollars, when I heard the crunching of snow underfoot.
Startled, I turned to the person to whom the voice belonged. Ski Boy. I’d forgotten his name, so had unimaginatively nicknamed him according to the type of equipment he’d rented me earlier that week. He was handsome, for sure- his complexion was warm, indicating a winter surely spent on ski slopes, and he was not so tall that I couldn’t tell his eyes were of the palest blue. His thick, brown hair was sprinkled with snowflakes, and he was dressed stylishly in black; it occurred to me then that everyone I’d encountered had been too, and glanced woefully at my borrowed faux fur-trimmed, white hoodie. Then I remembered he’d greeted me.
I’d avoided speaking to anyone in the week or so since I’d arrived in town; reserved according to my sheltered upbringing, and inhibited by a fear of speaking to strangers. Now I was to speak to this perfect stranger, in another language no less. He looked at me expectantly, and I swallowed my nerves.
‘Bon-jour?’, I unconvincingly responded, cringing at the way my Australian accent desecrated the word. Before I could dwell on my embarassment for too long though, he’d leaned towards me and kissed my left cheek, then my right. Not wanting to be the last leaning toward the other, I straightened away from him. He smiled and gestured to his left cheek.
‘In Switzerland, we kiss three times’, he explained in halting English.
I kissed him where he’d gestured. From the way he smiled, my blushing was as apparent to him as it was to me; no matter where you’re from, when a handsome boy kisses you on the cheek, that’s what you will do. The female customer emerged from inside the bakery, loaves of bread peeking out from inside brown paper bags.
We stood there for a few more minutes, he stretching his limited knowledge of English to its limits, and I simplifying my vocabulary as best I could. Finally, after finding a way to communicate the length of our stays in Montreux, Ski Boy ran out of phrases he’d memorised in English.
‘Adieu’, he said, kissing me thrice again, bringing colour instantly back to my cheeks.
‘Adieu’, I replied, waving as I walked away. I’ve forgotten my croissant, I realised too late. I turned my head towards the bakery, just in case he was already out of sight, and my eyes met with his. He hastily turned around, because no matter where you come from, when a girl catches you looking after her, that’s what you will do.
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