The stone stairs along the river of the Ribeira dos Naus promenade seem to have no end. Louis strolls towards the beach step by step, enjoying his last day in Lisbon. Tomorrow he would return to Paris. He looks melancholy at the vastness of the sea as he gets closer and closer to the beach and paints out the night ahead of him, having a blast once more. Four months ago he came from Paris to visit his good friend. They haven’t seen each other for more than two years and he secretly wished for a love affair with Severine. However, the first days soon revealed that he had to refrain from this wish. Severine had already fallen in love and so they remained. Disappointed and left alone, Louis no longer knew what he was actually doing in this city. That was his only reason for moving to Lisbon. A hopeless romantic inside him, constantly in a kind of stopover of confidence and defeat, melancholy and optimistic drive. He was here, he had decided to stay in Lisbon and he would make the best of it. Despite gloomy thoughts that often overpowered him, he forced himself to go out and mingle with the folks. And suddenly many undreamt-of possibilities opened up. Louis quickly made new contacts, the people here were somehow different than in Paris. Never before has it been so easy for him to communicate with people. Women flirted unrestrainedly with him and his self-confidence grew.
Louis is in his early thirties, very attractive, a dreamer, a child resting in him, a man who perceives his surroundings in detail and reflects the feelings of others. A perfect catch you’d think if his own insecurity wouldn’t show up again and again, making the delicate development of a relationship between two people more difficult. Sometimes when he wakes up at night and begins to ponder, he thinks, perhaps the only thing that stands in his way is his fragility, his sensitivity, which makes it almost impossible for him to open up completely. Louis never wanted to close himself off, he always encounters love in a positive way, but past disappointments have also left traces on him, small scratches, which always remind him to take care of himself and rather walk a course than get hurt. If he fell in love, this time he would look very carefully before recklessly opening his door and turning his mind off. The women he met in Lisbon gave him a special appreciation, the little flirtations changed his consciousness as a man. Suddenly he was coveted and Louis decided not to commit this time, but to open his door a little further for all the seductive options that were literally at his feet.
Tomorrow he’ll leave Lisbon again. Arrived at the beach Louis reflects the last months and remembers:
There was this one special party where he met the Finn Elin, who could have passed with her friend almost as twins. They stood together, drinking wine, giggling, flirting. Again and again he felt the need to kiss Elin, to take her with him, but he did not dare.
His gaze wandered over Elin’s shoulder as he found himself in the eyes of a stunningly beautiful Italian. Their eyes met and a sexual tension was palpable, a sexual tension that filled the whole room but was only visible to the two. There it was again, that slow motion effect that warned him that this encounter could hurt. The music stopped, the movements of the others were too slow to even notice them. In his thoughts he approaches the woman. She whispers her name in his ear, »Rosa«. Just pronouncing that name, her sensual voice gives Louis goose bumps. He caresses her face in his thoughts. They run hand in hand along the narrow streets of Lisbon. In reality, he still stood between Elin and her friend almost as petrified. Rosa wasn’t there anymore.
It was also this evening that his girlfriend Ivie came in. He met Ivie while skating, since then they have often dated, they could never really escape a sexual attraction, but left it at secret desires.
Ivie is extroverted, she loves to dance and to be the center of attention. She has a child and is older than Louis. When he watches her, he imagines a life together. How they master everyday life together, he confides in her child and the three of them enjoy a wonderful time.
Louis stood next to the dance floor with his glass of wine in his hand and watched Ivie dancing, who couldn’t keep her eyes off him and kept looking at him with a smile, asking him to dance with her. He smiled back. In his mind he dances with Ivie, they kiss dearly and leave the party. In reality, he turned away, saying goodbye to Elin and her friend with a warm hug and left the bar alone.
It’s getting dark on the seafront and Louis is looking forward to the night ahead. In his apartment Louis gets ready for the party in the district of Bairro Alto. Today he would see them all again. That was something he was already missing. In Lisbon you meet people again, unlike in Paris, where people roam the streets anonymously and meet by chance. Tonight he knew that he would see the Finn Elin with her friend, Ivie and possibly the gorgeous Italian he named Rosa. He stands in front of the mirror and tweezes his beard nervously.
Arriving at the bar, there’s already an ecstatic atmosphere. And indeed, he meets the women there again. Ivie entertains a group of students, Elin and her friend dance frisky and the Italian welcomes him directly on entering the door with a glass of wine in her hand. Her real name is Maria and there is no doubt that she wants to conquer Louis. The women are giving Louis a wonderful time. He dances, he flirts frolicly, in the spotlight he exchanges wet kisses with the Finn Elin and her friend. He caresses Maria’s naked back tenderly as he gets a second glass of wine from the bar and sees goose bumps forming between her shoulder blades. Everyone wants to spend the last night with Louis, but only with one does he actually disappear. It’s his friend Ivie.
The romantic thoughts of saying goodbye indefinitely and that all these plans for a common future, which also buzz around in Ivie’s head, cannot be lived, put both into a passionate euphoria. They love each other all night. The next morning they sit together at the breakfast table with Ivie’s child. Louis says goodbye and packs his bags. Satisfaction comes over him at Lisbon airport. He would return to this city, to a city that has given him so much more than just missed chances.