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Lost in (Your Voice) Translation-Part 3 by Fantasy Weaver


Sorry if there were a lot of typos in the last part. I re-read the stuff I put on this site and yet as soon as I publish something, my error-hunting skills seem to heighten and I am left feeling inadequate in my proof-reading. Anyways, here's the final part of this story. It was nice to stretch my creative writing muscles. I don't know how much success this story will have compared to others, but the change of pace was nice. Enjoy!

-Fantasy Weaver

Note

1: Some foul language ahead.

Lost in (Your Voice) Translation

Part 3

XXXXX

"Ow, ow, ow…" Damian whimpered as he hastily limped towards his motel room, hands digging into his short pockets to retrieve his key.

After fumbling with the lock, the door flung open for him, and he closed it just as swiftly, before finally crumbling to the squeaky mattress of the bed.

A groan of utter despair and hate for himself left his lips, accompanied by his hands covering his face as the reality of what just happened hit him again. How utterly STUPID was he? He was an absolute moron of the highest degree, a fool, a clown that belonged in a circus!

What had come over him to say such words to Colombe? Had he hit his head on top of spraining his ankle? He had never disgraced himself like this before. "I like your voice." What kind of caveman was he?

He lifted his face from his hands, all at once alert. A thought occurred to him, one which made him slap his forehead in disbelief.

He hadn’t even bothered to pay for his cut!

"Stupid, stupid, stupid!" He berated himself, uncaring for whatever neighboring visitor might be hearing him through the inn walls. He had been so desperate to get away from Colombe that he had overlooked payment for her services.

What to do? He couldn’t bear to see her face again after his declaration. He would rather pack his bag right away and go back out on the trail; never mind the fact that he had just arrived today, or the fact that his foot had not yet healed, there was no way he could go back there, not with his dignity intact anyway. The prospect allured him. He wanted to leave, really, he did, and had gotten up to do so, but slunk back to the bed at the debilitating pain in his ankle.

He isn’t thinking straight. One of the first and foremost rules of backpacking is to rest when you needed it. And he did need it. Even if staying in the same village as Colombe and being reminded daily about how he had acted, what he had said, would make him wish he had never been born, it was imperative that he treat his injury.

His hand came to pinch the bridge of his nose, a long, tired sigh exiting his open mouth.

It was no use overreacting. Besides, he hadn’t gone to the post office to retrieve his package, and Lord knows he needed the food in that box. He would have gone on the trail without any meal source in his haste to get away; another important rule of hiking was to ALWAYS have more than enough food between resupply stops.

He took a breath through his nose, hands forming into irritated fists. Rest. Resupply. Those were his priorities. Worrying about an unpaid haircut -and the embarrassing way he had left- were a problem for another day (or never).

He ran a hand through his cropped hair, trying to forget about the sweetness of Colombe’s voice still lingering in his ears.

XXXXX

The next day, after a hardy breakfast and a rather painful walk to and from the post office, Damian settled on the carpet of his rented room, the sliding patio door open to let the air in. He could already tell the heat wave was near, and prayed that any water-points had not dried up.

He opened his carefully packaged box, and flipped the contents out onto the floor. Brown eyes searched through the mix of dehydrated meals, freeze-dried goodies and trail mix, to find the letter enclosed within.

It was a tradition of his, whenever he went hiking, to ask the different people in his life to write out a letter to him that he would put in his survival packages. They could be anything; encouraging words, pictures, a drawing from a friend’s kid, anything to keep him motivated during his trek. This time, it was a humorous letter from his best friend, one that had him chuckling to himself as he read it.

He put the letter aside and began sorting out his meals for the next five days, before the next stop.

His left leg stretched out on the carpet, the throbbing in his ankle eased by the pack of frozen peas the innkeeper had given him (only after having witnessed Damian hopping on his good foot to get to reception, mind you).

He stared at his foot, and his mind teased him again with yesterday’s encounter with Colombe.

Truth be told, he hadn’t succeeded in putting his haircut out of mind, as he had wished. The memory lingered, festered within him as guilt gnawed at his insides, begging him to go back and put things right, to pay the poor woman for her troubles, and put his conscious to rest. He had lost sleep over it, and even when he had managed to close his eyes, he had dreamed about her.

A pack of dried blueberries hung from his hand as he stared into nothing. This whole situation could have been avoided had he decided to go back to his room yesterday instead of getting a haircut. He could have dealt with the heat even with his long waves. It would have been a pain to do so, but at least it would have save him the trouble had gotten into.

He threw the Ziploc on the floor, rubbed his eyes. He wasn’t in the mood to prepare his pack for tomorrow. Not when he felt this much like sh**.

A minute ticked by. Two.

He was already locking the door to his room at the third.

Damian walked through the village as he had yesterday, with one goal in mind: bring payment to Colombe, and bring back his peace of mind. Resting and food prep had plunged to the bottom of his priority list.

How strange it felt, he thought, to be able to walk through the flower-strewn streets and find his way unconsciously to "Chez Pierre’s". Everything was on autopilot. Even the pain in his foot seemed to abate enough for him to concentrate on the important matter at hand.

Or, could it be everything seemed so out of focus because the prospect of seeing the caramel-haired barberette again numbed his senses? He didn’t want his mind to linger on the thought. He would not shame himself again in front of her. In fact, he would apologize profusely for his behavior and for that sentence he had oh so stupidly dished out to her. She dealt with enough customers as moronic as himself, he was absolutely certain of that. The least he could do was this.

He looked up. The quaint shop he had found himself charmed by stood in front of him, with the same flowers and open door as yesterday. The sight brought with it apprehension. Would Colombe sick him the moment he entered the shop? Would she chase him out with a broom while shouting out insults he would not be able to comprehend at the top of her lungs, or would she spray him with the nozzle of her washing basin? Perhaps she would slap him in the face, or-

‘Stop. Go in. Pay. Apologize. Get out’ he told himself, knowing that the more he lingered here, the more likely it was that he would lose his confidence in the matter. So he entered through the open door without a moment’s hesitation.

It looked pretty much the same as it did yesterday, with the exception of a rotating fan offering an extra bit of respite from the hot summer day outside. Again, the shop appeared empty. No Pierre. No Colombe.

The bead curtain parted then, and he flicked his gaze to it as soon as he heard the soft noise.

Colombe stopped in her tracks, her pale blue eyes recognizing him instantly.

Now or never he thought, swallowing, licking his dry lips as he started, "Bonjour, encore."

The woman seemed surprised, for what reason, he dared not think about. She gave him a once over, one brow lifted curiously at the sight of her interesting client from yesterday. Cautiously, she answered curtly, "Damien."

Damian’s resolve faltered with just the sound of his name in that sweet voice.

No! He shook his head. He didn’t have the words to say what he wanted in French, but he would do his best to sound apologetic. "Colombe, listen, I-" he passed a hand on his head, brushing along the short crewcut. "I don’t know what came over me yesterday, I just- I wanted to come back because I didn’t even pay you and-"

Baby blue eyes widened the more he spoke, but Damian couldn’t tell whether that was because she had no idea what he was saying, or because she understood, and was utterly flabbergasted.

"I’m a total moron for even saying…" He looked around the shop agitatedly, shuffling on his feet as he did. His hands fumbled in his pockets, trying to find his wallet. "I just want to pay you for the haircut, because I completely forgot about after I said, well, you know what I said. Anyway I-"

He slapped around his shorts, front and back. Where the hell did he put his wallet? The barberette had started to advance towards him, but he paid her no mind. He was ranting, he knew that, but the words just wouldn’t stop tumbling from his mouth.

"I was thinking that I would just leave yesterday because of how I acted, and you really don’t deserve having to put up with, so if you want to tell me how much I owe you..." He frantically turned his pockets inside out. "Where the Hell did I put my wallet?" His eyes flicked nervously up to the woman who was now but two steps away from him, and he gave a lopsided, tense smile. Where was his wallet Godammit! His smile wobbled precariously as he pleaded to the woman, "Look, I swear I had my wallet with me, so I’ll just, just go back to the inn and come right back with what I owe you. I am so sorry about everything, I am just so STUPID-"

A finger pressed to his lips suddenly.

Pale blue eyes watched him evenly. "Shut up."

He wanted to gape at that, but found he could only clench his teeth while flicking his gaze down to his lips, where Colombe had place her index finger to silence him.

What came out of her mouth next had him widening his own eyes, "Yes. You are stupid."

She had barely hesitating in saying it. He had dug his own grave coming here. She was surely about to punch him in the-

The finger at his lips moved to his jaw. Nails scrapped against the grain of his beard. He blinked, all at once bewildered, shocked at what was happening. This certainly hadn’t been the response he had anticipated from Colombe, and he wasn’t sure whether to sigh in relief or be suspiscious.

But then, the barberette smiled, sending a million emotions and thoughts careening all at once in his being. He eyes twinkled with amusement as she stated, "You are stupid…because…you have beard on your face."

She had had trouble getting the words out, but he had understood her. Or, had he? Had she really said what she just voiced? "What?" he gaped, unable to fully understand the situation.

The woman kept the smirk firmly planted in place, as she continued slowly, with much effort on her part, "You like my voice. You are funny."

That…didn’t clear things up. If anything it only made a zillion questions flicker through his head, all more pressing than the other. What did she mean by that?

She spoke in her own language next, making him even more confused as to what she was eluding, "Vous êtes vraiment adorable, le saviez-vous? Vous êtes la première personne à me complimenter sur ma voix. Je n’étais pas prête à recevoir votre compliment." Here she looked at him, examining his face intently. "Laissez-faire le paiement."

Damian dared not move, but perked up when she said that last part. He translated quickly, and understood that she…didn’t want him to pay? He floundered for words, but could only supply a strained, "Why?"

"No one…" she paused, and stared into his eyes, conveying an emotion he dared not put a name to, "…likes my voice."

Brown eyes gaze long and hard into endless pits of baby blue. Understanding dawned on him about what her words meant, and found himself frowning. No one enjoyed her voice? That couldn’t be right. She sounded so sweet, so soft, so kind. Who could find fault in such a voice?

Her hands fell away, but the soon tugged at his own, bringing him towards the barber chair. "Viens," she said, "Je vais vous raser."

He pulled, causing her to stop. "But I can’t even pay you."

"Votre compagnie vaut plus que de la monnaie." She tugged again, smiling lightly at his bemused state.

She seemed so insistent, and he couldn’t comprehend why. In a way, this was worse than all the scenarios he had imagine before confronting her, and he had no plan on how to deal with this. So he said the only thing he could, the only thing that encompassed the whole of his confusion, "Je ne comprend pas."

She stopped, squeezed his hands in her own. "Do not worry. Please."

His brow furrowed. She seemed so careful now, like she didn’t want him to leave.

He couldn’t find it in himself to leave either.

So he trusted her, and after giving a nod, he let help him into the chair. As he sat, he was reminded of his poor foot, which he had neglected to be careful with during their exchange, and became grateful for being able to rest here, even if he had no idea what brought this on. For now though, he was just happy that Colombe hadn’t freaked out on him, but kept wondering just what she had meant, about his words to her from yesterday. Did it really surprise her to know that he enjoyed listening to her talk? And more importantly, had the words really affected her so greatly?

The he thought about what she wanted to do now, and stared at his reflection in the mirror before him. She had been right about one thing though; he did look ridiculous with his beard. It clashed with the tidy haircut she had given him made him look only halfway done.

Fine. He would let her shave him, as he had wanted to anyway. The questions could wait.

Colombe had taken a cape out of the station drawer, took the few steps to reach his side and drew the cape around his shoulders. No strip. Instead, she tucked the edges of the linen into his shirt. And when that was done, she moved had the chair lean back into a semi-laying position.

Damian moved around on the headrest, getting comfortable as the woman unfolded a towel, which she proceeded to tuck into the cape at his neck. A look at her face revealed she had not stopped smiling. He averted his gaze to the ceiling, twirled his thumbs under the cape, tried to stay as composed as he could.

"Puisque vous aimez ma voix…" Colombe spoke, her voice just above a whisper, "Aimeriez-vous que je parle comme la dernière fois?"

"Hm?" Damian intoned, quite uncertain what she was on about. But then she patted his cheek, a light gesture one might do to a clueless child -and frankly, that’s how he felt right about now.

"Je crois que je vais parler, sans votre avis."

Hi slips parted, but no sound came out. The words in his throat dissipated as soon as those words were out, for Colombe had started ranting as she had last time, at his request. The constant hum of her voice instilled peace and calm on his mind, and just like that, he had become a willing servant to her hands; mush, putty, clay, a soft ball of willingness for her to do whatever she wanted with him.

She left his side, for a moment, and returned with something which she spread between her hands. His eyes, having settled on her face, shifted their focus to her palms, which were now hovering over him as the barberette placed herself behind his head. Something glistened in her hands, but he didn’t have the time to dwell on it, as she had brought them to his stubble-ridden face.

And then his face WAS like putty beneath her fingers.

Brown eyes closed, a long, pleased sigh escaping parted lips without consent from their owner. The woman’s small digits rubbed and pulled and lightly pinched his face in a massage that left him quite nearly breathless. As circles were made over his coarse cheeks, Colombe murmured words he couldn’t understand, yet she said them with such a quiet, lulling tone that he felt himself drifting close to sleep.

The rubbing felt so good, he nearly forgot all about what he had come here for. Relieving his guilty conscience? No, that couldn’t be right. He must have come here for this; surely that was the only reasonable explanation, right?

He couldn’t think straight when her fingers worked his skin like that. Whatever slick product she had applied to his skin did a wonderful job of helping her move her hands in delicious ways across his jaw, his chin, his cheek, and when her hands dipped to his neck a gently worked around his Adam’s apple, another of those content sounds echoed in the shop.

Alas, the worshiping hands left him, but his eyelids were too heavy for him to even bother trying to open them. Instead, he listened to Colombe murmur sweet nothings as her footsteps approached the chair again.

Darkness and moist heat enveloped his face then. A towel, he dimly registered, as the barberette pressed her hands to the cloth on his face, helping the warmth seep into his skin. His nose pocked out, letting him breathe easy. His hands had stopped fidgeting, and now lay motionless on the armrests, probably just as limp as the rest of his body.

The towel came off after a minute or so, he couldn’t really tell. Somewhere in a dark corner in his mind not fogged from Colombe’s sweet voice, his subconscious told him to shake himself awake, to ask what was going on, to do SOMETHING. If he had the strength to groan, he would have; why should he sully this moment with trying to find out the meaning behind the woman’s actions? Especially when it felt so damn good…

The sudden touch of something soft and warm on his chin had that pesky voice in his head retreat further back into the darkness. Still, he dared open his eyes, to see a laughing Colombe in his field of view. She had something in her hand, near his face… A brush, right, with lather. She swirled it expertly over his stubble, her left hand holding his head and tilting it as she saw fit.

"Dormez-vous? Vos yeux sont tout petits. On dirait presque une marmotte qui sort de son trou après l’hiver." The statement, whatever it had been about, was followed by another of those tinkling laughs.

He didn’t have the energy to bother doing anything more than close his eyes as she lathered his face. He focused on the circling of the bristles, how they lifted each little bit of stubble and spread the white foam over his entire face. Colombe carefully run an index over his upper lip, covering it, too, with shaving cream.

The brush left him. He picked up on the woman doing something near the counter, and then she came back to his right side.

"Relaxez, ça va vous faire du bien" came her low voice, right before she stretched the skin of his sideburn.
A soft breath left him when the touch of metal came upon his skin, but immediately relaxed again when the woman slid it against his skin, shaving away his unruly stubble effortlessly. Oh yes. This would feel so good out on the trail. No face sweat because of his beard, and no hair sticking to his face.

Colombe worked the straight razor like it was nothing, deftly passing over the hard ridge of his jaw without so much as a nick. His skin was pulled, her fingers stretching it just right to get into every nook and cranny his face could present to her. The blade passed close to his ear, left, and came back to swipe at his stretched neck, lifting lather and hair away easily. And again…

His head felt awfully heavy. He moved it to his left slightly. Like this, it wasn’t so bad…

The man nearly dozed as the barberette continued her work. He barely moved an inch when she ran he fingers over his neck to inspect her work, and let his head lol to the right at a push of her hand on his head.

The delectable process was repeated again on that side. Colombe stretched his skin, passed the razor, wiped it, and resumed, all with the utmost delicacy. Her talking had slowed, and her bouts of speech became more dispersed over the course of the shave.

She tilted his head back straight, and tackled the stubble around his throat. Her gentleness around the sensitive area made him want to sink to his knees and worship her, but he supposed that was just the fuzziness in his head talking. Small passes of the razore were made on his neck, until no lather was left.

Fingers stretched his the skin of his chin, and swipes were made here too. He could tell by her strokes that she was being careful.

A finger pulled on his skin, making him open his mouth slightly. "Ouvrez…" was the soft command given to him.

She passed the razor in an upwards motion, catching the little hairs hiding under his bottom lip. She then pinched on side of his mouth, and ran the razor along his upper lip, on both sides. When finally, there was little more than a patch beneath his nose, she gently lifted the skin there and shaved it off within seconds.

Her hands roved over his denuded skin, passed with and against the grain, shaved wherever she felt needed her attention, before she walked back to the counter. He still had his eyes closed, but they flew open when a cold towel pressed over his features. "That’s cold," he complained half-heartedly.

Colombe wiped his face, ignoring Damian’s whine, and disposed of the towel after. She went to the counter, took a glass bottle and upended the clear liquid within into her cupped palm. After returning to his side, she patted the strong-smelling stuff to his face, and the sting alerted him to what it was: aftershave, and a strong on at that. He hissed, now fully awake, and thinking about how he had ended up here.

The woman lifted the chair back into its original position, and took off both the lather-ridden towel around his neck and the cape tucked into his shirt. She placed herself behind the chair, and found Damian’s eyes in the mirror.

He pursed his lips, at a loss for what to say. He had come here to pay her and leave after the deed had been done, but now he wasn’t so sure what he should do anymore. Her reaction had been so not what he had prepared himself for, and again, her words from before haunted him.

He found himself expressing his thoughts, despite his better judgment. Slowly, he spoke, "How can anyone hate your voice?"

Colombe averted her blue eyes to the floor, her lips straightening in a grim line. "I talk too much," she responded.

The cogs turned in Damian’s head, and then it clicked. "People don’t hate your voice; they hate that you talk a lot."

Here, the woman’s gaze found his again. She nodded once, confirming it.

He blinked, and soon he had lifted himself off the chair, much to the displeasure of his throbbing ankle, and rounded the chair so that he was standing in front of her. He looked at here, this small woman who looked like she could do nothing wrong, and couldn’t imagine anyone finding fault in her because she -seemingly- speaks too much. It was absurd, to him anyway.

She gave him a wobbly smile. "Damien?"

He licked his lips. "Oui?"

Something between a snort and a sigh escaped through her nose. "Merci."

He furrowed his brow. "Pourquoi?"

She placed a lock of caramel hair behind her ear, and looked at the floor between their feet. "For being nice…to me."

Well that didn’t seem fair. She had clearly showed him more compassion and patience than she ought to, and he told her so, "But you have been nice to me too, a lot, in fact. I don’t even know how to repay you."

Her she looked up and laughed, "Je vous ai dit de ne pas vous inquiéter pour le paiement."

Damian shook his head, "No, not money! I mean- yes, money, but what I mean is…" he ran a hand over his shaved face, his cropped hair, "I’ve been so stupid, what could I offer as a thank you?"

She looked like she understood what he meant. She leaned forward, and almost secretively, she asked, "When are you leaving?"

XXXXX

The pack on his back felt heavier, but that was normal, considering he had just re-supplied his food. The sun was low on the horizon; dawn had just broken over the flowery valley in which the village rested. Golden rays bounced off dew on the grass, making it glint like millions of diamonds.

He glanced behind on the trail.

Colombe was clad in a flowing cream dress, and looked quite stunning in the morning glow, but he wouldn’t dwell on that. When she had asked him yesterday to accompany him to the edge of the path that led further beyond the village, to edge of the valley, he hadn’t known what to say. She had showed a desire to make sure he wasn’t hurting himself, considering his foot was still a bit worse for wear. He had to keep moving though.

They had spoken on the way up the slanting hill "nothing like the incline that led into the village, thank goodness. Unlike their interactions in the barbershop however, their discussion seemed to flow a bit easier. Damian didn’t want to admit that her words to him, about him being nice to her, had kindled an emotion he did not wish to dwell on.

Colombe stopped, her face tilted towards the town. She clasped her hands behind her back. "I think I, euh…" she thought for a moment, "I should go. Go back."

The man turned to her, hands picking at the cork handles of his trekking poles. They were quite a ways away from the town. It had taken them about fifteen minutes to get up here from the village entrance. He looked down, clearing his throat. "Right. Of course, I wouldn’t want to keep you." He looked up at her, and gave her a smile. "Thank you for coming with me all this way."

Blue eyes glinted with mirth. "Il n’y a pas de quoi."

Both of them jumped slightly when, out from the tall grass to their right, a couple of bird flew out into the morning sky.

An amused smile broke out on the woman’s face, "Ah! Des colombes!"

Damian flicked his eyes between the birds and the woman, who had blurted out her own name at seeing the animals. His brow rose askance as he said, "Those are doves…"

Baby blue turned to regard him softly. "Colombe is dove in English."

His eyes widened, and he turned his attention back to the birds, now but mere moving specks in the sky above them. He smirked, entertained. How fitting for her to be named after a bird.

But soon, his eyes returned to her form, and couldn’t move away from her. He ran a hand over his crewcut, reminded of her hands, her fingers, working the clippers and the scissors and the comb over what once was his wavy mane. He thought of her voice, of her smiles, her laughter when he would make a complete fool of himself.

Perhaps he would make a fool of himself one more time.

"Je vous aime."

A moment passed, and Colombe turned to him, all amusement replaced with seriousness.

Quietly, she spoke words that would reverberate in his being for what seemed like forever. "Do you like me…or do you love me?"

His mind thought of the conjugation of the verb he had used; the verb that his teachers had first introduced to him. "Aimer": Having affection, liking, or having sympathy with someone; Having love or passion for someone.

He stood there, for a long moment, pondering over it.

They would never meet again. So he turned.

And walked away.

XXXXX

"I haven’t seen you in what, a year? Sit! Your looks like a rat’s nest!"

Damian sat in the black salon chair. Behind him, Jessica babbled on about how long it had been since his last visit to get a haircut, and asked him about a thousand questions pertaining to his hiking trip in Europe. He smiled patiently. He had forgotten how chatty Jessica was.

The woman wrapped him up in the salon’s black cape, making sure that his damp tresses were over the collar of the cape. As per usual, a trainee had washed his hair before letting him go to his stylist.

"So, tell me, was Spain as beautiful as I said it was?" Jessica went on, pulling a comb through his chocolate locks, detangling knots and inspecting the ends.

Damian crossed his fingers in his lap beneath the cape. "It was really nice. I even went to that restaurant you talked about from your vacation."

This seemed to please the tall woman. "Alright…so just a trim right? Two inches, at least, no?"

He eyed his mane in the mirror. "Sure."

"Good, then let’s-"

Before the stylist could say anything more, the phone rang at reception. She cast a look over her shoulder, and sigh, irritated. "Where’s the receptionist?" She turned to him and smiled, "I’ll be right back. Then you’ll have to tell me about France!"

She couldn’t have seen the way his brow furrowed at that.

While Jessica spoke on the phone, Damian took a moment to look at his reflection.

The chocolate waves had grown back since his trip. No reminder of the crewcut from that little village remained. He almost wondered if it had ever happened. But every time he looked at his phone, and saw those last few pictures from his hike, he was always reminded that it had happened, and, of the one who had given it, at his request.

One of his hands came out from under the cape, and racked through the longish locks. He pursed his lips, deep in thought, as Jessica came back.

"We did say two inches right?"

The man shook his head, lost. "What?"

"Your hair," she said, pointing her comb to his head. "We’re taking two inches off?"

Brown eyes stared hard into the mirror. Ever since he had come back, he hadn’t cut his hair. Not because he didn’t have time, or because he wanted to grow it out.

It just would never be the same after Colombe.

"I’m sorry, but I think I’m going to reconsider."

XXXXX

The shop bell tinkled lightly as a potential client walked through the door. She swept the hair beneath her feet, not looking up as she spoke to the customer over her shoulder, "Je serai avec vous dans un instant.Vous pouvez vous asseoir en attendant."

The person behind her did move. Confused, she turned around, and nearly let her broom fall from her hands.

Colombe stared, agape, as Damian approached her.

"J’aimerais avoir une coupe de cheveux, s’il vous plaît."

Words, taught, so long ago it seemed, were spoken to her fluidly.

Colombe did not need to ask Damian if he loved her.

XXXXX

The end.




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