moments of illumination in the city of light

002 : Lauren Elkin at a friend’s apartment, Odéon
Born in 1978 in New York, USA, Lauren Elkin currently works as Writer Why Paris? I just can’t stay away She digs the following Paris bits: 1. The light 2. The rooftops 3. Watching the workers put up posters in the metro 4. Bookshops 5. Walking everywhere She is, however, a bit miffed by rude, condescending salespeople, the smell of piss in the metro, les crottes bien sûr, stores that close too early, and slow-walkers. For more info on Lauren Elkin you should send an email or visit Maitresse.

image: Matthew Rose

“Je ne suis pas une femme facile”

Je ne suis pas une femme facile,[1] my friend slurred as she lunged for Guillaume, our host in this 6th floor garret atop a bourgeois building in the carrefour de l’Odéon.[2] He was an artist, his walls covered in nonsense graffiti, assorted polaroids, an enormous metro map, and remnants of drunken nights: cardboard coasters with scrawled phone numbers, bottlecaps, corks sticking out from the wall like Pinocchio noses. An aristo, whose messy garret must have cost more a week than my monthly rent. A libertine, whose dirty kitchen looked through a round porthole roof window onto the haunches of Notre Dame, and the glorious erection of Monsieur Eiffel. Doubtless this garret had housed his family’s servants, or perhaps an eccentric artist ancestor — some friend of Claude Lantier perhaps?[3]

The skinny artist aristo kept a finger in the spine of the livre de poche[4] they had adopted as their script, some bit of fluff I’d never heard of written sometime in the eighteenth century, and kissed my friend without using his hands. He and his companion had convinced her that acting out scenes from ancien régime[5] melodrama was the height of libertinage, as perhaps it was that Friday night, with the red wine remaining not long in the bottles and the greyish stubs of pot being passed around the room. Noir Désir’s sour triumphant rendition of Jacques Brel blared from the speakers.[6] The artist aristo‘s girlfriend was somewhere else and knew nothing of his slipping the tongue to my impressionable young friend, who murmured, in her best femme fatale, Je ne suis pas une femme facile. He said: all evidence to the contrary, ma p’tite demoiselle, the book splayed limply, half-open, from his wrist.

referenced works

  1. Translation: I am not a loose woman.

  2. Located in the 6th arrondissement, near the Latin Quarter, on the Left Bank

  3. Main character in Emile Zola’s L’œuvre, one of the Rougon-Macquart novels about life in Paris under the Second Empire (1852-1870).

  4. Pocket paperback

  5. refers to Pre-Revolutionary France

  6. Noir Désir: Cult French rock band popular in the 80s, 90s, and 00s whose lead singer, Bernard Cantat, accidentally killed his girlfriend, the actress Marie Trintignant, in 2003. Jacques Brel: Beloved Belgian songwriter. Song in question:  “Ces gens-là.”

location information

  • Name: a friend's apartment
  • Address: Carrefour de l'Odéon 75006 Paris
  • Time of story: Late NIght
  • Latitude: 48.850957
  • Longitude: 2.339745
  • Map: Google Maps



Art Space Tokyo

Interested in sponsoring Hitotoki? Contact us at sponsors@hitotoki.

Write for Us!

We’re looking for short narratives describing pivotal moments of elation, confusion, absurdity, love or grief — or anything in between — inseparably tied to a specific place in Paris.

submission form


Subscribe to our RSS Feed

Or receive updates by email

Addresses only used for the occational hitotoki mailing. Otherwise stored on the 4th floor of Tokyo Tower.

A list of all available RSS feeds is on the about page