The Impressionists

26 Dec

A 100 word story based on the photo below taken by some-damn-body from a penthouse on the Rue de Passy with a bargain basement digital camera and a pair of binoculars. My thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for using it and to all the structural iron painters in Friday Fictioneers for adding their layers of paint to the edifice.

While visiting Paris in 2007 I climbed part way up the tower and saw firsthand a team of two painters out on the iron going about their work. From that memory and others comes this week’s story.

The ImpressionistsCopyright Douglas MacIlroy

“You’re getting sloppy, Gustave. Her again?”

“I’m sorry, Rene, yes.”

“She’s on your mind often?”

“Only when I’m breathing.”

“Have you told her you love her?”

“Every day that I can.”

“You’ve missed a spot. Hand me that brush. What is she waiting for?”

“It’s complicated.”

“If the inspectors ever see your work, it will be.”

Gustave adjusted his safety lanyard and swung to a beam that faced her apartment. Seventy-six bright red hearts with her initials in white already adorned the tower.

“You think she’ll ever see?” asked Rene.

“One day,” replied Gustave as he finished. “One day,”



56 Responses to “The Impressionists”

  1. summerstommy2 December 26, 2013 at 10:31 am #

    Nice one Doug love is a hard game for some of us I reckon. Thanks for the great photo.

    • dmmacilroy December 26, 2013 at 10:39 am #

      Dear Summerstommy,

      Welcome for the pic. Glad you like it. And you’re right about love. I think the game is rigged.



      • summerstommy2 December 26, 2013 at 10:40 am #

        well I know who its rigged against.

  2. rochellewisoff December 26, 2013 at 10:36 am #

    Dear Doug,

    Perhaps one day Gustave’s passionate art will make the right impression. As always, the layers are there and with each read I see a little more story unfold. Your skill with words leaves me hoping for more. Seventy-eight.



    • dmmacilroy December 26, 2013 at 10:41 am #

      Dear Rochelle,

      Gustave’s got time and lots of paint. Thanks for the kind words. Seventy-nine.



  3. Sandra December 26, 2013 at 11:30 am #

    I hope she sees it. I’d hate to think of 77 hearts going to waste like that. Nice story and great photo Doug.

    • dmmacilroy December 27, 2013 at 9:26 am #

      Dear Sandra,

      Me too. Thanks for the input and kind words.



  4. David Stewart December 26, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    I love this story. It seems very appropriate in a place like Paris, although you’re right that the inspector might have a fit. Hopefully the iron doesn’t rust around the hearts.
    Considering I have an off and on thing with heights, I don’t know if I could do that job well, but I might want to, just for the spectacular view every day.

    Have a great holiday week,

    • dmmacilroy December 27, 2013 at 9:28 am #

      Dear David,

      Heights and I disagree depending upon the level of exposure to them. We used to have a saying on the windfarm that anything above 20feet was fatal. I like stairs with railings and the Eiffel Tower obliged. Thanks for reading and commenting.



      • David Stewart December 27, 2013 at 9:50 am #

        The only time I’ve been at the Eiffel Tower, there was construction or renovation on the upper levels, so we could only go to the second level. It was still a great view, but someday I’d like to go all the way to the top.

  5. Indira December 26, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

    You have woven a great story with painter’s work. Hopes keep us alive.

    • dmmacilroy December 27, 2013 at 9:29 am #

      Dear Indira,

      It does, indeed. Thaks for dropping by.



  6. Ye Pirate December 26, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

    A beautiful tale, and a hero in the friend, who helps him.

    • dmmacilroy December 27, 2013 at 9:31 am #

      Dear Managua,

      He’s got plausible deniability, but, yes, a good friend. Thanks for the comments.



  7. elmowrites December 26, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

    Ah, the course of true love. One day, I hope she’ll see and appreciate their handiwork. In the meantime, this friendship is a good one that will help to sustain him.
    Thanks for the glorious picture!

    • dmmacilroy December 27, 2013 at 9:32 am #

      Dear Jennifer,

      I love what you did with the picture. Brilliant, one might even say illuminating, work.



  8. tedstrutz December 26, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

    Not what I expected at the end… but then again, Doug… is it ever with you? Cute story and believable.

    Hey, where did you get the binoculars in Paris? And who let you in a Penthouse?

    • dmmacilroy December 27, 2013 at 9:36 am #

      Dear Ted,

      The binoculars were from my two week trek prior to resting in Paris and the penthouse for a week at a posh building on the Rue de Passy was a very nice loan from a kind friend. The photo was taken at midnight from the windowsill of the bedroom. I love it when a plan comes together.

      Thanks for the kind comments.



  9. Adam Ickes December 26, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

    Wonderful story, Doug. Here’s hoping she’ll see his love one day. I expect there may be quite a few love stories this week in response to your photo.

    • dmmacilroy December 27, 2013 at 9:37 am #

      Dear Adam,

      I’ll count the love stories and see if you are right. Thanks for dropping by.



  10. draliman December 26, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

    The graffiti of the heart!
    Great photo, it’s amazing what you can do with a “bargain basement” camera these days.

    • dmmacilroy December 27, 2013 at 9:38 am #

      Dear Draliman,

      I hear you. That photo had lots of deleted cousins on the cutting room floor. Thank you for reading and commenting.



  11. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) December 26, 2013 at 9:27 pm #

    Oh how sweet … a great way to show love.. but it might be easier to talk in the end… Thank you for the excellent picture…

    • dmmacilroy December 27, 2013 at 9:40 am #

      Dear Bjorn,

      One of my deleted lines in the first draft of the story has Rene telling Gustave that he is an idiot, so I get what you’re saying. You’re welcome for the pic. Looking forward to reading what you’ve done with it.



  12. sandraconner December 27, 2013 at 1:03 am #

    Such a delightful story, Doug! And quite believable because your characters are charmingly “real.” No question about the fact that you have experienced love first hand. Only a veteran of that roller-coaster experience could have written the line that says she’s on my mind “only when I’m breathing.” Beautiful.

    My sister loves Paris. She goes as often as she can, and she would live there if it weren’t for being so far way from her grandkids and her only sibling (moi). But when she was there this past summer, they actually had the Eiffel Tower blocked off for some major maintenance and repairs. I’m going to send her the link to this story and ask her if she saw any guys up close to the top painting hearts.

    Happy New Year!!!

    • dmmacilroy December 27, 2013 at 9:44 am #

      Dear Sandra,

      Thank you for your wonderful comments. At a thousand years old and counting, Love and I are old friends, or adversaries, depending on whom you ask.

      Too bad your friend missed out last summer. From the sound of it, though, she has has some up close and personal moments with the Tower. I envy her.

      Happy New Year to you, too.



  13. Jan Brown December 27, 2013 at 5:19 am #

    A beautiful picture, Doug, and a wonderful story to illuminate it!

    Poor Gustave, loving from afar, a chivalrous and romantic soul….*sigh*

    Loving from afar has so many pitfalls. Once the object of our longing is finally up close, their human failings are revealed in living color, and the obsession often fades.

    From her perspective, his creativity and persistence are impressive–but a little scary. The reader is drawn in as the story plays out, and is left with a tantalizing tale that has not yet come to its end. I love that the last line is a continuing count of the luminous hearts, and not a definitive conclusion. We continue the story in our minds: Will it end in a kiss, a relationship, a wedding…or a restraining order???

    • dmmacilroy December 27, 2013 at 9:47 am #

      Dear Jan,

      I guess it’s that obsessive quality about us that makes us human. As for the questionable nature of ‘answered prayers’ I have to say only that it’s hard tellin’, not knowin’.

      Restraining order? Haha! I love your imagination. You’ve added a layer to this story that never crossed my mind.

      Thanks for reading and comenting.



  14. kz December 27, 2013 at 8:43 am #

    awww i loved this. it suits the image perfectly. thank you for the photo, btw, wonderful shot. i hope she sees the hearts 🙂

    • dmmacilroy December 27, 2013 at 9:50 am #

      Dear Kz,

      I’m glad you enjoyed it. You’re welcome for the photo. Glad you like it, too.



  15. babso2you December 27, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    Lovely story….I hope that she sees the hearts! ^..^

    • dmmacilroy December 27, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

      Dear Babso,

      I wear my heart on a sleeve, so it was easy to paint the Eiffel Tower with them. I hope she always sees. Thanks for visiting and commenting.



  16. mike olley December 27, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

    This is a French film waiting to happen, the situation is so believable. Loved the line: “only when I’m breathing”, so apt. Oh, and thank you for the truly wonderful photo. The top of the tower swings 17ft side to side in high winds. Wouldn’t want to be painting love hearts on that day.

    • dmmacilroy December 27, 2013 at 9:17 pm #

      Dear Mike,

      I appreciate your comments. The film would be wonderful, especially if I could go to Paris for the production. You’re welcome for the photo. Still one of my favorites.

      Re the sway of the tower in the wind, you may be interested in this snippet from a larger article:

      “This tower moves in the wind. On days with high, gusting winds, the wind can reach speeds in excess of 100 mph (160 kph) at the summit of the tower. Visitors can feel the tower swaying gently at the summit. Under such wind conditions, the tower is usually closed to the public, although there is always an engineer present at the summit to monitor telecommunications equipment. The magnitude of the sway in the tower, under worst-case conditions, is about six inches (15 cm). There is no danger of the tower being damaged by wind-induced movement since it is designed to withstand movements easily five times beyond those produced by the highest winds ever recorded. Today, the movements are monitored by a laser alignment system. The tower also leans very slightly in bright sunlight, as one side is heated by the sun and expands slightly.”

      I include this because my understanding is that one of the marvels of the Tower is its designed resistance to high winds. Its large base tapers in graceful yet strong parabolas to a narrow top and its open lattice work presents very little surface area to the wind.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting.



      • mike olley December 27, 2013 at 9:37 pm #

        Thank you, Doug, I stand corrected. And to think I’ve believed that fact to be true since the late 70s. I blame my schoolboy French for the bad conversion. Maybe it was 17cm…

  17. rgayer55 December 27, 2013 at 5:08 pm #

    Dear Doug,
    What a mushy tale. I realize romance is a huge market, but I never expected to see a gruff old sea captain stick his toe in that ocean. Great writing.

    • dmmacilroy December 27, 2013 at 9:06 pm #

      Dear Russell,

      I had to go the romance route because Rochelle has historical fiction all sewn up and you have humor in a head lock. So it’s Treasure Island of the Trembling Thighs or Elizabeth does the Eiffel Tower or something along those lines for me.

      I think I’m doomed.

      Thanks for stopping in to chew the fat.



      • rochellewisoff December 27, 2013 at 10:55 pm #

        Excuses. You’re just as adept at historical fiction as I. For that matter I didn’t write HF this time, Mr. Hearts and Towers. MVDYLI

  18. unspywriter December 28, 2013 at 2:39 am #

    Great pic this week! And a sweet story. As always, a pleasure to read.

    Here’s mine:

    • dmmacilroy December 29, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

      Dear Maggie,

      Thanks for the props re the picture and my story.

      Yours was grand.



  19. The Bumble Files December 28, 2013 at 5:39 am #

    Dear Doug,
    More hearts mean a longer story, and for that reason, I hope he continues to paint more hearts. Other than that, your story left me rooting for him and for love! Ah, what we wouldn’t do for love. Great photo, too!

    • dmmacilroy December 29, 2013 at 12:41 pm #

      Dear Amy,

      I think we think (and root) alike and that makes me happy. Thank you for reading and commenting.



  20. calipatti December 28, 2013 at 7:29 am #

    Enjoyed your story, I was pulled right in and stayed in there to the end.
    Love is glorious. The pain from love gone lasts so long.

    • dmmacilroy December 29, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

      Dear Calipatti,

      Thanks for you kind comments. I’m going to keep painting hearts as an antidote to the pain.



  21. claudia December 28, 2013 at 8:35 am #

    very cool… love that you even named the painter gustave like gustave eiffel… and what a cool way to tell her how he loves her by painting hearts on the tower… it must melt her heart when she sees it finally… very cool pic as well.. i visited paris last year and the eiffel tower just stole my heart a bit…even without hearts…smiles

    • dmmacilroy December 29, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

      Dear Claudia,

      I hope her heart melts one day. Until then it’s paint more hearts.

      And i feel the same as you about that beautiful iron tower. Lovely.



  22. Mike December 28, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

    Paris, the city of love, surely he can’t go wrong.
    A great story Doug and a wonderful picture.

    • dmmacilroy December 29, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

      Dear Mike,

      Thank you, sir.



  23. talesfromthemotherland December 28, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

    I love the idea of this man painting his hearts, and waiting! “Only when I breathe…” Ah, c’est ci bon! Another great photo prompt and story, Doug. Aloha!

    • dmmacilroy December 29, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

      Dear Dawn,

      We think alike. Thank you for visiting and chiming in.



      • talesfromthemotherland December 29, 2013 at 6:37 pm #

        The images in your story are still playing in my head… yes, we think alike. 😉 Beautiful! dawn

  24. Perry Block (@PerryBlock) December 28, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

    Find me a chick like that! A French chick yet too!

    • dmmacilroy December 29, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

      Dear Perry,

      As soon as I find mine, I’ll start looking for yours:)



  25. EagleAye December 29, 2013 at 12:05 am #

    Now that’s a romantic! Possibly a jobless one, but he deserves kudos. Well done, and great photo too!

    • dmmacilroy December 29, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

      Dear Eagle Aye,

      I’ve always been a jobless romantic. Glad you liked the photo. Me too.



  26. Bryan Ens December 29, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

    Great story. I hope that Gustave gets his girl!

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