Lost in Time, An Interactive Blog Post Where You Complete the Story

Before reading today’s post, you’ll want to read this previous post for it to make sense: Paris Apartment, Another World Frozen in Time

After reading about the Paris apartment abandoned for seven decades, I lay in bed that night thinking how great it would be if we could fill in the blanks, imagine the rest of the story behind this mysterious tale. The next day, several folks left comments on that post expressing the same thoughts I’d had the night before.

So here it is, my amateur attempt to get this story going. You play an important role because you get to continue and complete the story in your comments. You get to decide what happens, how it ends!

A Wee Disclaimer: This was written off the cuff. I am most assuredly not a history or French buff, so please excuse any inaccuracies.

Lost in Time

She loved this apartment, she had loved it since the first day she set foot inside. The beautiful wood ceilings reminded her so much of her childhood home, a home rich in history and memories having belonged to her grandparents and their parents before.

Paris Apartment 1

 

As the light streamed in, the apartment took on an eerie feel. With each passing day there was more talk that war was imminent. How had things gotten to this point? The thought of guns and war sent a chill through her body, shaking her soul to its very core.

The neighbors on either side had already left, she knew she couldn’t wait any longer. She would go south where family would be waiting. They had been after her for weeks asking how much longer she was going to wait. She would be safe there away from the horrors that were surely coming.

This was so hard, trying to decide what to take. There was so little time to prepare, to pack. Oh, how she wished she hadn’t put off sorting through all her letters, her writings, all her important papers. Now they lay strewn in a jumbled mess, her frantic, last-minute attempts to go through them before leaving.

Paris Apartment 4

 

The decision to leave had been a difficult one. How could she just leave everything behind, all the beautiful furniture and pottery she had inherited and lovingly collected over the years. And what about the paintings, her cherished paintings! Oh, this was almost more than her heart could bear!

She would fit one, just one small painting into her trunk. It was the one he had painted of her not long after they first met. He would be upset when he learned of her departure. She was taking the coward’s way out, leaving it all in a letter she had written assuring him they would see each other again when everything was over. In her heart she hoped it was true but at that moment nothing seemed certain.

Paris Apartment 7

 

The morning sun was coming in even brighter now, filling the room with light as it always did this time of day. It seemed to be trying to persuade her the world wasn’t coming to an end, though her heart thought differently. It ached as she ran her fingers over the beautiful, sterling vanity set he had given her on her last birthday. Such a thoughtful gift, now being left behind as there was just room for the essentials.

Paris Apartment 5

 

He was always giving her extravagant gifts, even exotic birds collected during his travels. It was he who had given her Mickey. How had he known a silly mouse with big ears would be just the medicine she needed during those difficult days as she worked hard to regain her strength.

She had been deathly sick, no one was even sure she would pull through. But when the fever broke, he was there, waiting by her bed holding tight to Mickey, praying for her healing. His prayers had been answered; she had made it.  How could she leave him now? How? “None of this makes any sense,” she cried, kicking the footstool hard, sending it under the dresser in anger.

She shook her head trying hard not to think of all she was leaving behind. It tore at her heart as she bent down and scooped Mickey up into her arms, hugging him tight against her chest. She promised him she would return. Was she talking now to Mickey or was that her heart thinking of him. She whispered softly telling Micky it was now his job to watch over things. She was sure she caught the hint of a smile on Porky’s face as she gently placed Mickey back down on the floor beside him.

Paris Apartment 2

 

She stood back up and turned, her eyes falling on the beautiful image of her grandmother. Oh, how she wish she could talk to her now. She would know what to do. She would be able to tell her if she should stay or if she must leave.

Paris Apartment 3

 

As she stood in the doorway, she paused and looked back one last time, trying hard to memorize every little detail of this beautiful place she had called home for so long. Her heart raced, pounding as if it might beat right out of her chest. A tear rolled down her check, falling upon the lace bodice of her silk-crepe dress.

For just a moment she thought of staying and facing whatever the future held. Then she heard it, it was Grand-Maman’s voice reassuring her, “Go sweet child, you can not stay. You are not alone, you know I am always with you no matter where you go.”

She straightened upright, steadied herself and inhaled deeply. With her heart in her throat, she slowly pulled the door closed behind her. The sounds on the street were different now. Things were changing and she wondered if life would ever be the same.

Paris Apartment 1

 

Your turn.

Please continue the story in the comments, writing a few sentences or a paragraph to move the story forward.

There are so many unanswered questions. Where did she go? Why did she never come back? Why did she keep the apartment all those years? Why didn’t she come back for her things?

If our story falters, feel free to step back in and leave another comment moving it forward again. There may be a slight delay before comments post, but I’ll approve them as quickly as I can. Not sure how this will work, but we’ll give it a try 🙂

Look forward to hearing what happened over the next 7o+ years before the then, Mrs. De Florian, passed away at the age of 91, leaving her apartment, a time capsule of life in France during the 193o’s, to be rediscovered.




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Comments

  1. AWESOME IDEA – well done, Susan. Your story is wonderful.

  2. She thought, I can’t do this, I can’t leave him and everything else that meant so much to her. She ran back up to her little apartment. She burst through the door to take one more look. She thought I need to memorize this – what is here, how I feel. I will keep this feeling of the comfort all these things bring to me. I will feel the love that lives in these rooms until I get back. She turned and once again descended the stairs to the front door….

  3. Before descending the stairs one last time she quickly ran back to the vanity and found the precious box in the drawer that no one else knew about. Clutching it to her chest, she let out a sigh of combined relief and nostalgia as she left the beloved apartment one last time. Her heart was heavy with all that she was leaving but especially for him. How could her world have so suddenly changed? Hearing gunfire in the distance she knew time was running out for her safety and her sanity.
    “Help me come back here Grand-mere when this is over.” she chanted into the wind as she raced down the street, away from the turmoil of the war and her heart.

  4. That was wonderful Susan! I will read what others come up with. How fun!

  5. Susan! What an author you are & I wanted to read the rest of the story! I’ll have to think about an ending but right now I am thinking that you surely need to write a book & I will be in line to buy it!

  6. As she stepped into the glow of the afternoon sun, she vowed to return. This war could not last forever. The Great War before had ended but she realized the world would never be the same. Her love for him was the core of her being and that would be unchanged……

  7. Intriguing!

  8. with every step towards the chaos that awaits her outside she wondered how was she going to get through this…as she stepped outside and looked around..she closed her eyes inhaled the smells and sounds of the place she loved..she opened her eyes and thought it can’t be..but it was..he was standing by the car..door opened..hand out and said..”Please darling don’t fret I will ALWAYS take of you.”…she smiled..took his hand and they drove off to……

  9. Carra Harris says:

    This would make a wonderful movie. Filming in Paris and the south of France. The character development would be complicated and would pull at your heart strings. Of course, somehow it would have a sad ending. But it would be a wonderful story.

  10. a world that held the hope of promises fulfilled and a chance to find a place of freedom from the impending terror about to descend upon their beloved city and way of life. “How did you know…?” she gasped.
    “I heard on the wireless that the situation was getting desperate, and I had to get to you. We must leave NOW!”
    “But, please STOP. Where will we go? We can’t just drive out of the city. We WILL be stopped. They know who we are, and our involvement with the underground. It is safer if we separate and travel alone. I promise you, I will find you when this is all over. Please stop the car and we’ll …” Her words were stopped by the sudden sound of shouting as the car in front slammed on its brakes. A cold fear gripped her heart as she saw the soldiers approaching the window….

  11. What I find intriguing is that the apartment remained intact. How did the Nazis overlook this beautiful home and all its treasures, especially the paintings? This post is so timely with the movie The Monument Men coming out about the men who saved so many of Europe’s treasures I hope there is someone who knows the history of what happened to Mrs. De Florian, I am going with the idea that she met an Italian count and lived happily ever after

    • That’s exactly what I was thinking! How did the Nazis not get to this, and how does it go lost in time, as it the door to open it didn’t exist.

  12. I love how you completed the story! Thanks so much for doing this–can’t wait to read the other responses! Dee 🙂

  13. Brilliant writing! It’s perfect as a short story to accompany the photos, just as it is.
    Do you see her ghostly image reflected in the mirror in the second and third photos, sitting at the vanity? She has an extremely long neck, but then wraith-like images are sometimes nebulously formed. I’m sure she would approve of your writing. More, please.

  14. Fabulous, creative post……I’ll leave the writing to others, but SUSAN, what you wrote was WONDERFUL and a great beginning. It could be a movie…..but I hope it has a happy ending….I’m a sucker for those! Can’t wait to read what others have written. Isn’t life interesting when news stories like this emerge?!!

  15. Oh, this is so much FUN! You are ALL great writers! Can’t wait to read more, more. more!

  16. EXCELLENT WRITING, SUSAN!!! Wow – I love this – your story & what the others have added, too. Who knows – a book may come out of this shared adventure – I would certainly be interested in reading it & buying it, too. My thoughts for writing a paragraph or two are running wild right now. The adventures in romance & heartache & living during this time in history will have to wait until later when I have time to gather some thoughts. Excited to see how this story progresses!

  17. She had dreamed that night of their escape, but all was cold in the apartment, her things strewn around after the gestapo had finished their search. The message that had torn her world apart, came four days ago.
    They had taken the Gerba couple away late last night and she knew she must not wait for them to realize her connection. There was nothing for her to stay for, just reminders, which were now worthless.
    She loved him with all her being, but he had been a fool, if only he could have left his wife before the trouble began, they would be long gone and then his oath to the underground rang out in her ears “Vive La France”. What about his oath to her?
    Her eyes took in all the things which had meant so much to her, time spent away from the rest of the world, which belonged to only them. It was all gone now, like confetti sprinkled on the river, drifting along, out of her reach.
    In her pocket was the necklace belonging to her Grandmother, she had been a beauty of renown and charmed many a man in her day. But had she loved as much she?
    She trudged along the street, amongst hurrying families tugging at the hands of their children, all with the same mind, to get away as far as possible. Carts hurried by filled with people and possessions, desperation on their faces. If only she could get a ride to the station.
    The next passing horse and cart, stopped to let her on, squeezing her in among weeping children and women, yet no men except the driver. She could only imagine what had happened to them.
    As they approached the station, the driver pulled up the horse violently. causing the animal to stamp his feet and jerk at the reins. At the station’s entrance stood a line of soldiers…….

  18. Mary from Texas says:

    Great Story!

    Thought you might find this link interesting:

    http://ask.metafilter.com/222688/Major-Mistress-Mystery-Missed-Madame-Makes-Masses-Manic

    Love,
    Mary

  19. Linda Page says:

    Oh, Susan, why oh why haven’t you been writing novels all these years! I would have bought every book you wrote. You have a natural writing talent. You should be a novelist!!!!

  20. The soldiers started going from cart to cart asking for papers, looking for non-residents. Abruptly she looked right into HIS eyes! He looked straight through her and then from her to a woman next to her. She averted her eyes to the ground. He passed her by and with a slap on the horses rear sent it on its way. She clutched the box she had run back into the apartment to get and thankful that no one had seen it. She dared to sneak a look back and saw his sad eyes looking after their cart. What was he going to do, where did her take his wife, would she ever see him again? They were on their way again, but to where she didn’t know. After riding for what seemed like hours the horse pulled up to a little station in some little town. She didn’t know where they were, just thankful that they were somewhere far from the fighting… the driver said this was his last stop and they must get off… but where… why…she was terrified. As she drug her self off the high cart and grabbed the one bag she had she fell backwards into the mud. Awwww. Here you go! someone said as he grabbed her and pulled her up. She looked up with tears welling up into her eyes into the eyes of an older gentleman. He looked like her grandfather. He asked if she were hurt, and she replied “no”, just embarrassed. “Don’t be little lady” “Do you have a place to stay, there are no hotels in this little town” “No, no I don’t, I just caught this ride out of Paris. We had to leave because the soldiers were coming. “Yes I know, there have been several carts through here today. My wife and I have an extra room you could stay for a few days until the next wagon comes through. “I hate to be any trouble she replied. You won’t, my nephew is staying with us for a few days also, maybe you can go with him, he is on his way to London and then trying to get to America…

  21. She bit her lip as she looked around the street. All of her neighbors had left weeks, months ago. She had made an attempt to reach her father, but his eccentricity- his absolute reclusiveness left her with no recourse but to flee the city on her own. She felt helpless release in breathing a prayer for his safety and letting go of the burden of trying to make sense of a man’s life she had never understood. Grandmere had few good things to say of her only son, Henri, and for his part, he had stayed away. After her mother had died when she was barely a toddler, she had moved in with Grandmere. Had it not been for her beloved grandmother she was sure she should have been raised on the streets.

    Now she was leaving the safety of the lovely cocoon her grandmother had spun for her in the grand abode she’d been raised in. The silken threads of luxury woven throughout the apartment and her memory. The stuffed ostrich she had named as a babe. The parties, the never ending line of visitors and the extravagant gifts they would bring to her and her grandmere. Her first taste of love. All linked to that apartment.

    She thought of the last time she had seen Rene, he had been full of bravado and talk of the resistance. Full of plans for them and their future. She had not understood the urgency, nor the danger. She only knew of his love for her and how she loved and adored him in return. His blue eyes, and jet black hair, his trim built. His strong arms around her. The commanding presence she was powerless to resist.

    It was he who had told her to leave the apartment. He who had warned her of the danger of staying there any longer. But what had she known? She was young, and blinded by love, and unable to conceive that anything like the horrors he was suggesting could happen here, in her city. Now, she was fleeing without being able to take anything with her. No small momento. Not even the Mickey Mouse he had bought for her. All she had was the ring he had taken off of his finger and given to her as a promise of his love and his return. “You must look as if you are not running! You must pack nothing. You will go to your aunts, I have made the arrangements.” He’d slipped a paper into her hands with the train connections and told her she must leave immediately. He would not be able to travel with her. The resistance had called him to another location. He could not even tell her when they would meet again. And then he was gone. And now, two days later, the city had an unsettling quiet about it. As if waiting for the storm.

    She had a crushing sense that she was all alone now. Accepting the invitation to stay with distant relatives had been the only option that made sense in the looming insecurity of the city, indeed, the nation. She sighed audibly at the thought of staying with relatives who had been less than kind to her family. Taking refuge with her aunts with whom she had had little contact with, and whose only memory of was the hushed tones, the looks of disapproval.

    This would not do, she thought to herself. Grandmere would not have been a frightened half wit, she was bold, and she faced the world head on. So would her granddaughter. She would return some day when this threat was over. All her dreams. They would be fulfilled there in that house.

  22. Doreen Krajzel says:

    Hi Susan;
    Wonderful!! I love the story so far, there are a million ways this story can go. After a busy, busy day today, I think I will not take part in the story telling until tomorrow. Keep up the great work everyone, it is very exciting! Love, Doreen

  23. Susan…you are a great writer and so are many of your readers. Bravo to you all! I found this and thought you all would enjoy seeing what has happened to the beautiful Boldini painting of Mrs. de Florian.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/8042281/Parisian-flat-containing-2.1-million-painting-lay-untouched-for-70-years.html
    Vikki in VA

  24. Susan and serial writers,
    Did a little research and found a blog that has a few more facts and a picture of the apartment from the outside as it looks today. This blog mentions that the painting has been valued at 3.4 mil, and has other salient facts, but not many. The author of the blog “A Nest Among Thorns” is just as intrigued as we are. You can read a bit more and some responses from readers (also amazed at the find) at the site:
    http://anestamidthorns.blogspot.com/2010/10/found-treasure.html
    Seems Georges Clemenceau, Prime Minister of France from 1906 to 1909, figures into the story. It might help to inspire all BNOTP readers as they work their way through this wonderfully developing story which has a great beginning by our head blogger, Susan.

  25. I agree with everyone else, Susan! You should be a novelist! Your writing – in conjunction with the others’ additions to the story – had me captivated and swept up in history. Fabulous!!!! Just fabulous!!!! I had so much fun reading this! This romance definitely needs to be published into a book or a movie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ♥

    xoxo laurie

  26. Lisette’s family were well established, wealthy Parisians. After her mother’s unexpected passing she lived with her stepfather and her half-brother. As Lisette grew to be as beautiful as her mother her stepfather did unspeakable things to her body. She never told anyone, even Grand-MaMa until she realized she was with child.
    She was so young that having a baby would ruin her chance at any kind of acceptable life. It would be an unthinkable scandal even if they could keep the father’s identity a secret. That’s how she escaped her abusive stepfather and moved into that beautiful apartment with her loving grandmother. Grand-Ma-Ma enabled Lisette to live as a young socialite, a beauty amongst Paris’s young available women. Grandmere explained the child in a manner no one would question or judge. They were raising the precious toddler together when she met Clark. He was every girl’s dream and he loved Lisette passionately. They planned to marry and he would accept her baby as his own. That was before the war had quickly escalated and life was normal. Not now. Not now.
    Clark was involved in the fight against the Nazis. The young lovers could not bear to part so she had sent the child and Grand-Ma-Ma away weeks ago. Now she’s had no contact from him or from her family in an unusually long time.
    Rarely a day went by when they Clark did not send a note or pay her a visit. Now she was afraid that he’d met some terrible fate. She was terrified that something had happened to Grand Ma Ma and her child. It wasn’t safe in Paris. So she closed the door, took a deep breath and did not look back.

  27. Denise Van Eps says:

    Her heart was involved in all the ways a woman loves……………her beautiful possessions, her friends, and most of all, the man she could not bear to leave. Will she see him again?

  28. How clever you are and such a good writer, why am I not surprised??? I wondered the same thing as the others, how did the Nazis pass this gem by??? All these years and not one break in!!! Amazing!!! Also am excited over the new movie coming out, we will learn even more about the treachery of those days…….
    Love reading all the romantic writings this story has inspired!!!

  29. The “show must go on….” They lived happily ever after. The End franki p.s. luv’d reading all the comments!!

  30. elli sharpe says:

    She was faltering in her decision to leave and knew she was being dangerously sentimental. He was gone, never to return and had been for several months. All the treasured moments they spent together in this home is in the distant past, everywhere she looked she saw him, laughing, loving and comforting. He was gone. He died right in this very room, she held him as he took his last breath. She knew if she stayed she would die too, he would not want that. She had to carry on the mission he started.
    She turned and walked away, locking the door on their past and walked into her future without him.

  31. If only I had left when the others in this building did I would not feel so hollow and lonely trying to make decisions when there is little choice left for me. I am not even sure where the rest of my family went except that they moved far from the war zone that they knew Paris would become.

    When one is young and so in love and her love was called to fight for his country. He was certainly not the first to leave nor by any means the last as he had hoped against hope that they could have had the beautliful wedding they had planned almost from the first time they had met. True love comes only once in a lifetime and we knew we were destined to be together.

    Sadly when the telegram came that my love had died a hero flying his plane to protect all those children who were now living in a large mansion in the country. Jacques would not have even thought about himself as he loved children and these little ones were in danger and he had to try to stop the plane heading there to bomb the mansion they lived in.

    What are things when all that matters is your ‘true love’ and so I leave all the past behind as I close and lock my door to my beautiful former life. I know as I leave that I will never return. I know that I am young but my decision now is to first find my family and know they are safe and ask them to keep an eye on the apartment in case someone will need it in the future. I have independent means and will keep the rent paid as long as I live.

    Father Boulet always told me never to give up on the idea of a vocation in the Church and make Christ my bridegroom. I must admit I took Father serious when growing up and now with so much pain and sorrow in the world the greatest gift I can give my ‘lost love’ is to pray for his immortal soul. I shall become a Nun, a Sister of Charity and take care of the soldiers in the hospital and pray for them, write letters home and pray that God will protect and care for them and that this terrible war will soon end and that many souls will be saved when peace returns.

    P.S. Our Lord said ‘If you love me take up your cross and follow me…and that I shall do with joy and gratitude in my heart. The world is fleeting but eternity is forever so in this mad world truly Heaven is the goal. My dear one, God willing we will meet again someday where there is eternal peace. Au revoir ma cher. A bien tot!

  32. Angel Bites says:

    Running along the street her hand touched her chest and felt the string of pearls coiled into her secret pocket. All would be well as long as she had those close to her.

  33. Deftly leaving her home broke her heart not knowing if she’d ever return.
    The memories there were precious sharing with the love of her life forbidden
    to anyone seeing or knowing the life she lived was sacredly honored to God & to her family….
    Imagine leaving everything behind that she loved….missing his tender loving warmth embracing
    her in his arms…..It’s a wonder she would have died had he not been with her praying for her
    holding Mickey in his arms hoping she’d live, which she did….

    Over the years, she could not find him & thought the better to keep the place in the event that he
    might return only to find the place empty if he had…..She had left a note to him letting him know
    of the turmoil decision she had made leaving as her heart was broken in sorrow not knowing where
    he was or how he is doing…..

    Basking in the sunlight praying one day she’d find him but never did that she found someone with
    whom she could share her life with marrying and having children of her own….The memories will be
    eternal in her heart hopefully happily married to someone who she dearly loves enjoying the children
    in her life helping them realize what’s important and what’s not important cherishing the years of
    their youth before long will become adults leaving home and becoming an empty nester….

  34. Gayle Kesinger says:

    I am currently listening to the story of this apartment. The book is a novel “Paris Time Capsule by Ella Carey. The apartment is exactly the same down to the dust, beautiful picture, stuffed Mickey Mouse, papers in the same place as in the picture and the name of the courtesan, Isabelle de Florian. There are three books by the author in which she plays a part.

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