She suspects she’s being followed. Elyce glances across the street being careful not to turn her head in the slightest. Her arm is getting tired from carrying her case of wine but she knows that it’ll all be worth it as soon as she arrives for the long awaited evening she so desperately waits for each month.
Elyce can hear her husband’s voice in her head asking, “did you pick up the meat from the butcher?” She walks a bit faster. She hears her daughter complaining for a new pair of shoes and thinks of all of the laundry that she still needs to be done. She walks even faster.
In the window of a boutique, she sees a white fur coat on display and she can’t help but smile and think of her grandmother. She immediately feels a pang of longing in her heart. Elyce thinks back to those glorious summer days spent in her sun-lit Paris apartment, sitting on the edge of her rose-patterned sofa, nibbling on savoury treats as she watched her grandmother saunter about the room in her white rabbit fur coat, pulled right over the top of her silk nightgown; a gift she claimed came from an American jeweller she was once in love with. She would lean against the chaise and tell Elyce wild tales of her youth. There were the stories about her antics on the French Riviera during the Années folles; nights spent literally swinging from the chandeliers, or rather, from a swing, attached to the ceiling of a bar in Nice. She could recall almost being arrested for indecent exposure one New Year’s Eve. Elyce never knew for sure if any of the stories were true.
On Elyce’s 21st birthday, her grandmother pulled a small box tied with a simple burgundy bow from her purse. Inside, a brass key sat on a small silk pillow. Elyce reached for the key, held it in her hand, and was surprised by the weight of it. She looked up at her grandmother. A sly, slow smile unveiled on the woman’s face as she uttered four simple words, “welcome to the club.” She passed away five short years later, but not before giving her grand-daughter a gift of freedom, sisterhood, and indulgence, if only for one magnificent evening every month.
Elyce now belonged to an underground sisterhood; a secret place where women could gather to escape their daily lives and enjoy all of the things that they weren’t supposed to enjoy as housewives, mothers and dutiful women of post-war Paris. They smoked cigarettes and drank like fish into the night. They talked and laughed and blushed about sex without judgment. Elyce cherished her club and those magical nights with her sisters. There wasn’t a secret word to gain entry, only a brass key to that room in the attic and her own special contribution; a giant French baguette.