Amalie and Pierre arrived at Simspeare & Co early in the morning. Pierre was instantly in love! He looked through the shelves of dusty old books curiously, everything looked so interesting. He thumbed a mildewed copy of Voltaire thoughtfully.
‘They have a café,’ Amalie pointed to a sign, ‘perhaps we should get a drink and see if there’s anyone we can talk to?’
Pierre agreed and they ordered coffee and pastries. The café was comfortable and homely, and the lady behind the counter was friendly and cheerful.
‘There is a room upstairs for writers to use,’ she explained pleasantly, ‘you are free to use it whenever you like, as long as nobody is using it already.’
‘That’s awfully kind of you,’ Amalie said, smiling.
‘It works well for us,’ explained the barista, ‘artists use our room for free, and if they are successful, we can say, “So and so used to write here”. The artists leave us notes and poems, you can see them on the wall over there.’
Pierre looked around curiously, he was already feeling inspired by all these relics of starving artists! The writer’s room was small and crowded, but it was piled high with interesting books and it was comfortable. The vintage typewriter helped him to get into the mood to write, he imagined all the poets and authors who had sat there before him, all the things they had written, and soon the words were flowing easily.
Amalie waited patiently downstairs, she felt comfortable in the quiet and studious surroundings, and the smell of freshly ground coffee reminded her of her old town… before things had changed.
She was staring thoughtfully out of the dappled glass of the old window, lost in memories, when she spotted a familiar figure: it was her new friend Adelia! Amalie leapt out of her chair and hurried down the stairs.
‘Adelia!’ She called as she ran along the path, out of breath, ‘Adelia!’
‘Amalie! What are you doing here!?’ Adelia exclaimed as she threw her arms around her friend in surprise.
Amalie explained that her nephew was writing in the bookstore and Adelia agreed to join her for a coffee to keep her company while she waited.
It was getting late, and Amalie ventured upstairs to check on Pierre’s progress.
‘How are you getting on?’ she asked tentatively.
‘Really well,’ Pierre enthused, ‘I’m really happy with what I have so far!’
‘I knew you were brilliant,’ Amalie cried, ‘let’s hear what you have so far.’
She sat down on the cot to listen and Adelia joined her. Pierre read out his short story to them both.
‘Goodness,’ Adelia gasped looking at them both with a tear glistening in the corner of her eye, ‘have you really suffered through all of that?’
Amalie nodded grimly.
‘And your sister,’ Adelia gasped, ‘She’s really in prison just for protesting against everything they’ve done?’
‘Yes,’ Pierre whispered, he was a little embarrassed by Adelia’s emotional reaction. Of course, he welled up every time he thought about things, but he lived with it every day and had forgotten how shocking it would be to someone encountering the story for the first time.
‘You must finish this!’ Adelia insisted firmly. ‘Even if you don’t publish it yet, you must write it all down.’
Pierre nodded and stared closely at the typewriter keys.
‘Come on,’ Adelia whispered to Amalie, ‘let’s leave him to it. There is always someone here, he can stay until he’s finished.’
Amalie looked back at Pierre uncertainly.
‘He will be fine,’ Adelia insisted, steering her from the room gently.
Pierre took a break. He visited the bathroom and then went back to the café for something to eat.
‘How are you getting along?’ the barista asked kindly.
‘Good, thank you,’ Pierre said thankfully, ordering his food, ‘just give me a shout when you’re ready to kick me out and close up.’
The woman waved his hand away when he tried to pay, ‘You can stay until you’re finished. There will be someone here all night and you can leave when your ready. Or stay. It’s fine. Just remember us when you are a famous author!’
It was getting late, Pierre sat back down at the typewriter thoughtfully. How could he finish a story that hadn’t ended yet? Then inspiration struck him and he tapped out the last few pages in a rush. Suddenly he felt overwhelmingly tired and he climbed into the cot, falling asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.
Pierre got home in the early hours of the morning. Amalie was waiting for him. He felt disgusting, and needed a long shower, but he was pleased with himself for accomplishing something. He also felt relieved, like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders.
‘The bookstore have agreed to help me get it published,’ he told his aunt, ‘but I don’t know if I should. What if it causes trouble for mum?’
‘Pierre,’ she said, throwing his arms around him, ‘I think you should publish it. Juliet will be so proud of you. Look at everything she did for her country. Look at all the things she risked to stand up for what is right. Publish it. She would want you to.’
And he did.