"I believe if there's any kind of God it wouldn't be in any of us, not you or me but just this little space in between. If there's any kind of magic in this world it must be in the attempt of understanding someone sharing something. I know, it's almost impossible to succeed but who cares really? The answer must be in the attempt."

Before Sunrise (1995).


July 1995

The taxi stopped and dropped him just outside Paris Gare du Nord, he paid the driver and mumbled an awkward merci before running towards the station. Once inside, he took a look at the flap display, the train would leave soon. He started to panic and ran as quickly as his legs could carry him. The inside of the station was congested and busy and he was starting to lose hope when his eyes caught the Eurostar section of the station, he started running again, skipping the steps of the escalator. He arrived just in time to check his ticket, clear immigration and board the train. Once inside the train, he could finally settle but he was out of breath and wiped the sweat off his face. He really could use some exercise, he thought to himself.

As he took his seat and stored his bag in the overhead bin, the train conductor announced the train would be delayed by 15 minutes. "Of course," whispered Chandler, these are the typical daily happenstances that only seem to happen to him.

A group of young men, who were shouting loudly, boarded. At least, he wasn't that late, Chandler thought. He took his Discman out, inserted a CD, the music started playing in his headphones and he zoned out, looking through the window as the train started.

Tiredness catching up with him, Chandler dozed off against the window for a while until movement in the front jolted him out of his sleep. A young woman he could only see from the back was talking to the group of noisy passengers. Visibly annoyed, she grabbed her suitcase and her bag and walked towards the back. Not wanting to appear nosy, Chandler averted his eyes, focusing instead on the newspaper lying on the table.

Monica started to look for another seat a few rows back. She found a seat across the aisle from a young man with headphones on and somehow reading a newspaper at the same time. She briefly looked at him then settled in her seat, opened a book and started reading.

Chandler took his headphones off. He looked at the woman at his left. Then at the front where the noisy men were still shouting.

For a moment, he wondered if she was French or British. French, she definitely had to be French if he had to go with an answer on the spot. He examined her profile as she looked at the window, her hair was not too long, not too short. Not too straight nor too curly, with a very dark shade contrasting with her pale skin. She was wearing a dark tank top with polka dots over a t-shirt, high-waisted jeans, and flat shoes. She definitely wouldn't be out of place in a New Wave French movie, in his opinion. Suddenly, she looked up at her right, and they made brief eye contact. The shouting at the front persisting, Chandler shook his head and Monica smiled shyly at him. They followed the action with their eyes as a train stewardess escorted the group of men to the back, and as they passed them, Chandler and Monica found themselves looking straight at each other.

Monica chuckled and Chandler grinned at her.

Still wondering whether she was French or English, Chandler decided to take the plunge, and clumsily asked, "Pardon mademoiselle."