Lara was supposed to have breakfast with Selin, a friend from middle school who had a long layover in Paris. It was eight thirty, and Lara was frustrated not to have the morning to herself before teaching in the afternoon. She loved the early, luxurious hours when she was free to do anything she wanted, which often meant making coffee and going back to bed to read.
She hadn’t seen Selin in more than fifteen years, though they’d kept in touch a little over Facebook. Selin sometimes wrote out of the blue, having remembered an episode from their school years, or to ask how Lara was doing. Lara had moved to Boston for university, then to New York, before coming to France. Selin would write that she dreamed of visiting Lara in these places.
Lara didn’t see Selin when she went back to Istanbul. Her trips were short, barely enough time to see her parents and closest friends. She had nonetheless kept track of the general shape of Selin’s life: she still lived in Istanbul; she had a boyfriend who resembled her, with a thick mop of hair and a cartoonish smile; she posted photographs of her handicrafts, which received enthusiastic comments from other crafters.
At the last minute, Lara decided to put on lipstick. She walked down the stairs of her building and stepped outside. Sunlight lay bright and jagged on the scaffolded building across the street, where work had already started for the day. There was the clang of metal, a rhythmic thudding of sacks thrown on the pavement. The wind was sharp on her face and neck. She buttoned up her long coat, a bit thin for the season, and turned to walk to the bistro at the end of the street. She went there several times a week, mostly in the evenings after teaching. Recently, she’d had a date there with a man she met online. For a week or two afterward, they sent each other text messages. When Lara suggested meeting up again, the man stopped responding.
Selin would have to take the fast train from the airport, then switch to line 4. Lara had assured her over email that this was an easy trip, though she could certainly have suggested something more direct. Selin would be tired after her flight from the United States. She was on her way home from a craft workshop—she’d explained the technique in her message, which Lara could no longer recall. She was bewildered that Selin would bother coming all the way from the airport to see her, rather than walking the city alone for a few hours, maybe treating herself to a nice lunch, a souvenir.