When I met Brigitte Bardot she was twenty-six and firm as ice. She wore a gingham dress, navy blue and off-white, and it sashayed off her calves as she moved toward me to extend a tiny tanned hand with nails filed into ten sharp-edged squares. “Hello Brigitte,” I said. “I’m Brigit.” My nails were different lengths, some nibbled off.
“Brigit I am so beautiful,” she said right away. “It is not just the layout of my face,” she began, “but the way it pouts and slides like a serpent into the crotch of your pants.” Brigitte held a cigarette in one hand and swigged it like a Guinness, her head thrown slightly back. “It is the way I hold it. Like my face is the Sphinx of Egypt, hard in place, never letting loose for,” with her cigarette-free hand she flicked her honey hair beyond her shoulder and formed an angry smile, “even a moment.” She bowed her head. Hairs flitted off her lips as she spoke. “It is nice to meet with you.”
“You are really pretty,” I said. Though honestly I was just flattering her. Her face scared me, her mouth like a duck’s beak but quacking turtle dove coos, and her eyes like tin can circles smudged around the edges with coal. Brigitte pulled herself into me and hooked my arm like an escort, walking me down a cobbled alley path away from her film set. Behind us, camera men laughed and ate and ran about with equipment, as Brigitte and I whisked away into a cove between little buildings, scurrying off upon brick stones. The boisterous film crew faded slowly in the distance like a Depression-era circus taking off on a train, with elephant trunks tipping out of windows and dirty men crowding cars, zooming boisterously away into the night. Our flat shoes clicked briskly upon the rock. The men slipped from view. We turned a corner, clicked down more rocks that made up abandoned streets, and arrived at a riverbank. Humidity swept in, the soil was wet and the current slow. Though it was not night, the air was as motionless as when only cats and drunkards are awake. I heard no human bustles, only a lone cricket, and the occasional yap of a far off dog. Trees hung low about the water, branches oozing into the river’s muddy stillness. Brigitte stopped us and threw her cigarette down. Its end was still smoking, the smoke trailing up between her thighs, leaving its scent on the gingham cloth, before it succumbed to the damp earth and went out. She was out of breath.
“Good. We’ve lost them,” Brigitte husked. Though were they following us in the first place? I didn’t ask. Brigitte looked a bit paranoid, her eyes beehives, her hair fire. I stared at her. Her arms were like horse’s calves. Her eyelashes looked like heavy black fingernails and when she blinked I thought I saw scratches beneath her eyes. Maybe she’d just been crying earlier, or wanted to cry now. Her cheekbones were precocious, led by her neck to stick out as far as possible. She moved her chin side to side as she surveyed the area, and then, like a snake snapping toward its prey, she jerked her gaze to me. “So,” she began, “welcome to my riverbank. It is so nice to see you outside of your dreams.” I blushed.
“I’m sorry. I know they’ve been strange,” I said, putting hair after hair behind my pink ears.
“Don’t apologize. There is no need.” Brigitte motioned to the earth. We sat. My legs sank into the cold of the dirt. They were frozen by its touch, like I was dipping them in to the sea. The air directly above the bank was a faint green. Green swirls seemed to surround Brigitte, weaving in and out of her appendages. Brigitte continued. “No, I loved being a part of your dreams.” Her eyes squinted, smiled at me. “It is so nice to meet with you in person, here. In this world I inhabit. With my beauty.” Brigitte pulled a cigarette out of the air and offered it to me. I shook my head no. A firefly brushed by her cheek and left a wave of light before her. What time was it? There was no sun, but it was not night. I thought I heard dogs again. “As one would imagine, it is usually men who dream of me. Tiresome reruns of me nude, sitting upon laps, with pigtails and a squirt gun,” she scoffed. “Or wrapped in cellophane like a new toy, my hands tied to a tree, my hair dripping with semen. Barbarous. Even the dreams of those who feel they love me. No. Their love is disdain. My body on the bed, ready for a wedding night, or some high class porn, or a film shooting, and they rip my body to shreds. Gruesome creatures.”
“I’m sorry,” I offered. “They shouldn’t dream of you that way.”
Brigitte appeared resigned, her huge eyelashes hardly fluttering under her raised brows. “It is all they know,” she said with a single blink. Brigitte puffed on the already smoking cigarette she had created. “But you. You dream me in elementary, dancing in circles until I fall down. And then, as I grow breasts, we are one, making love to Roger, laughing at his red face as he pumps away above us. ‘Hee hee’ is how we laugh. ‘Hee hee hee’. And we go off to country dances, we go on a carousel, a purple pony!” Brigitte gave a guttural giggle of delight, “And then we are grown, playing Rosalind in As You Like It
in a foreign country, Romania or the Pacific Isles. We act with delight, with sorrow, the applause is deafening. And then there is a man there, dark, with glasses…”
“My boyfriend,” I interjected.
“Your boyfriend. Yes.” Brigitte paused. “And he kisses us, tangy like a pomegranate, and we swoon. And you wake up.”
“Yes,” I said, less embarrassed at hearing it told with the natural flair of swooshy French consonants.