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“Éloïse.”

“Éloïse what?”

The shorter lad’s amber eyes widened in dismay.

“Fait chier! It occurs to me I never thought to ask her surname!”

The young man’s sandy haired friend laughed in a good humored manner as though this were not an uncommon occurrence.

“Oh, Albert, were you so enchanted by her beauty that you forgot your common sense once again? Tell me, when is it you last saw your good reason? I can’t seem to remember.” 

“Tais-toi, Pierre! I don’t see you having any greater success in romance.”

“That’s because I don’t try.”

“Because you’re afraid to fail.”

“Non, because I have more important things to do than chase skirts.”

“What could be more important than love?”

Pierre laughed again.

“Love, Albert? You think you’re pursuing love? You have much to learn, mon jeune ami.”

“Boucle-là! You’re not so much older than me yet you act as though you’re already close to the grave. Why must you be so grim, Pierre?”

The taller boy took a bite from his croissant to avoid answering. Albert simply sighed. He swirled his coffee idly in its cup, staring past the waitress at the next table, lost in thought. Finally, Pierre broke the silence. 

“That which you have, you cannot take with you,” he said somberly. 

“Quoi?” 

“Ce n’est rien. Forget it.”

“No, tell me. What do you mean by that?”

Pierre’s sky blue eyes darkened as if rainclouds were passing before them. Albert had felt his childhood friend to be troubled of late, but couldn’t come to any conclusions as to why. 

“Have you never considered what it’s all for? What any of it is worth in the end? Why do we strive to move mountains when earthquakes will come to crumble them afterwards?”

“Why do you say such things, my brother? Are you ill?” Albert’s chest tightened with apprehension.

Pierre sighed and stared into the distance, admiring the bright morning landscape. There were birds singing overhead, and the ocean was calmer than it had any right to be.

“Albert, life is something that escapes us. Every day we waste time chasing after this and that, thinking that when we attain something, then we will be happy, but it’s never the case. We are always left wanting more.” 

“I don’t know about that. I’m pretty sure if Éloïse were mine, I’d want for nothing.”

The lads laughed heartily and fell into comfortable silence once more. After a moment, Pierre called for the waitress, paid for their meal, and stood. 

“Albert, it’s been a pleasure as always. Shall we do it again tomorrow?”

“Bien sûr, but tomorrow I pay.”

“Comme tu veux! Bonne chance with Mademoiselle Éloïse! I look forward to hearing her family name!”

“And hear it you shall! À bientôt!” 

Albert gazed after his friend momentarily before grabbing his hat and coat and proceeding to head to the shoreline. He briefly wondered why his friend had been acting so strangely but soon his thoughts once again returned to Éloïse.

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