“You see? It is something else altogether.” Brigitte did a double puff, and blew out hard. She looped her finger in circles around the smoke.
“Still, I apologize for bringing you in to my mind, given how sensitive you are to dreams…,” I coughed into my hand, turning my head from her.
“My dear,” she continued blowing in, to, and about my face, “you dreamt of me, now why? Why have you come? What is it about…me?” Her gaze zeroed in on me in its snake way, though as we heard some dogs barking in the distance she turned away momentarily and sighed. “The dogs. How I adore them,” she murmured, and then looked back to me. “Go on,” she urged.
By the time I’d finish telling Brigitte of my childhood, of my first sight of Paris, my first sight of her, she had stripped down completely.
I began with how we share a name, the connection of a name, and she smiled, loosening the tie on the front of her dress. I told her of being an American baby in Paris, how I’d been kissed and coddled by Parisians clucking “Brigitte, a little Bardot!” and I’d said, “Who’s that, Mommy?” How after seeing her picture I had made my classmates use the French pronunciation of my name, the luscious “gggG”, the meowing “itte”. How I told them I was named after her. How I told them one day I’d be a famous actress just like Brigitte. I told her how I’d failed. I told her how when my hair turned ashen from its girlhood flaxen, I’d dyed it gold. How I swayed my hips as I walked, my ass like a poodle’s tail, as I‘d seen her do. Brigitte laughed and gave complimentary “mmhmm”’s and “oh, of course”’s, as she stuck her chest out and reached her hands around her back to unbutton herself. The swooping neckline sunk lower upon her body until it slid off, dirtied on the river’s soil, along with her naked behind. She took off her anklet, and her golden studs, tossing them aside without a care. I spoke of my need to be beautiful, to be looked at. She nodded solemnly and took her navy headband off, setting it upon the lumped checkered clothing beside her. Brigitte was bare, all bumps and lines. She sat quietly for a moment. There was that cricket again, and the dog. The water made its silent journey beside us.
“When one is a woman,” Brigitte spoke at last, “is there anything more important than being beautiful? I mean, really, at some point, isn’t that what it is all actually about?” Brigitte pouted her lips. They were like a ripe plum ready to drop.
“Exactly,” I said. We looked at one another and exhaled.
“But surely you know I am not the only Brigit,” Brigitte said, with a low voice. “In truth, were you named after me? I admit it would surprise me. You are American, a Marilyn rather, with hips that birth,” Brigitte said sincerely, laying back, her stomach sinking, her elbows propping her up. It seemed the most natural thing in the world, her nudity, her bluntness.
“No I wasn’t. I don‘t know which Brigit.” I loosened my sweater by one button. “But,” I smiled at her mischievously, “I hope I was named after the Irish one.”
“Oh, no. The Celtic one. The Goddess of fire! The pagan one?” I asked, searching her tiny face for recognition. It was clouded.
“What?” Brigitte sat up, her stomach created three tiny folds over her abdomen. Her eyebrows creased together into one baffled line. “The what
“Oh, nothing!” I’d made a mistake. “No pagans!” I nearly yelled. “Probably the saint.” The pagans and freaks would be shunned here, by this riverbank of green swirls and languorous naked legs.
“I see. Yes. Saint Brigit.” Brigitte leaned back again, and played with pebbles as she spoke absentmindedly. “Irish, unfortunately, but quite a woman. Ireland, the home of fools but also of the Irish Wolfhound. Lovely animal. Sublime. Yes, Brigit was kind. She gave it all away. Her food, her francs, her smiles. She raised animals.”
“How do you know so much about her?” I asked, undoing another button.
“I’m a Catholic, obviously, and I hold her name,” Brigitte snapped, as she poured pebbles down the space between her two breasts and a couple landed in her oval bellybutton. “I love when they land there,” she said, and lay down completely, rolling in the dirt, toward the riverbank’s edge. I got up and followed her, taking more black buttons out of their holes to expose pale skin. Brigitte ended her roll by the water, and lay on her stomach, dipping her fingers into the current. As she did this, the ripples she created glistened gold. Another firefly swooped.