A/N: All characters are fictional!
"You're kidding, right?" I stared at him across the table. My hot chocolate didn't look so appealing any more. His dark eyes avoided my gaze. "It's my graduation" I repeated, aware that he was having enough of me. It took me four years to finish my degree in Journalism, lots of hours of effort and hard work. I was really proud of myself, being on the top of my class. I knew I hadn't had too much time for Hans, but it had to be like that.
"I told you, I want to watch the football match with my mates. It's the classification match!" He said, as if this was a reason to justify it. I couldn't believe it. We had been four years together. But in Germany, football is a huge thing. Germans love the game, the glamour, the excitement of being inside a stadium. I can understand this, although I don't like this sport at all. In fact, I hate it. But my graduation was important, really important. All my relatives and friends would be there. It represented the beginning of a new stage in my life. It was unique!
"Hans, are you telling me that you won't come to my graduation party because of a football match?" Something inside me fell apart. Watching that boy I realized he wasn't the right man for me. I started to suspect it last year, when I mentioned moving out together and he just said how nice it is to eat mom's food and have the laundry and bed done every day. Did I love him for real? Or was I just used to be with him?
I waited for his answer. He took his wallet and left a bill on the table. The coffee shop was crowded and the noise was becoming unbearable.
"I'm sorry, it's the World Cup" He gave me an apologetic look, shrugged and stood up. "I'll call you tomorrow, sweetie". He kissed the top of my head and left. Sweetie? He didn't know who was he messing up with!
Munich was my home. It was the perfect city for me. The parks were so big that you couldn't tell if you were in a forest or in the middle of one of the biggest European capitols. I had grown up there and thought I would spend the rest of my life in the same place. But as I walked to my faculty under the rain, something inside me told me that I needed a change. I had to get out of there, away from Hans and all what he represented. I looked at the buildings and, suddenly, I felt this wasn't home any more. Munich was Hans. Munich was the past years of my life with him. And if I wanted to get him out of my life, I couldn't stay there. I was positive about breaking up with him. And I planned to do it in the easiest way, as he didn't deserve another thing. I wrote a letter and it was on its way. I expected he would get it the next day.
I entered the old building and closed my blue umbrella. The halls were full of students talking in loud voices. I walked towards the stairs. I had to talk to one of my professors before graduation, as he said he had some news for me. She was my favorite professor ever: young, smart, understanding and very strict, but fair. I knocked on her door and waited for her reply.
"Come in" I entered her office and she smiled. "Ilse! What are you doing here, on a Friday afternoon?" I left my bag on the ground and sat on the chair, trying not to think about what had just happened. She looked at me and frowned. "Something is wrong?" I bit my lower lip and shook my head.
"All I can say is that I hate football" I had to smile when I saw her face. "You wanted to see me?" I said, directly. I wasn't in the mood to talk and she seemed to understand. Helga Wagner always understood. Her red hair was shinning under the lamps. It was a dark rainy day and it didn't look like a spring day to me. She opened a folder and looked up at me.
"Ilse, you're the only student in my class who speaks French perfectly" I nodded. My mom was French, so I grew up as a bilingual kid. "You're an excellent writer and a good journalist. I got a call from someone quite important, they need an interpreter for some event that will take place soon".
"Helga, you know that I want to be a journalist. Being a translator is not exactly the job I'd like to have" I commented. I was really disappointed with the news. I had expected something much bigger than that. A translator? You study languages to be a translator. I wanted to work for a TV station, a newspaper! I already knew languages and French was my other mother tongue!
"I knew you would say that, this is why I left the best part for the end" She smiled. I had to admit I was really curious about that. "The job will take place in Paris. You will be there 2 months". I blinked, surprised. Thousands of thoughts came to my head. A escape! Two months out of Germany, two months alone to forget about Hans, to forget about faculty and to think about what to do with my life!
"I don't know what to say, it sounds too good to be true" I commented, feeling a huge joy. I had never been in Paris before. My mom was born in Normandy, so we used to spend our summers there, at the seaside,but never had a chance to see the capitol. "Where do I sign?" I joked, but Helga didn't smile. She picked up her cell phone and dialed a number. We waited in silence.
"Good afternoon, this is Helga Wagner, professor of Media and Communications... ah, you remember me" She smiled. "Yes, it's about the girl I told you about. She's interested" Another pause. I was getting really nervous. "Yes, you gave me the contract.. aha...hm... yes..." I felt my hands sweating. What was she talking about? "OK, thank you, sir". Sir? Who was she talking to? She observed me and passed me a piece of paper. "This is the contract. I knew you would say yes, so it's all prepared" Did she know me that well? I looked down at the piece of paper. Twelve pages waited to be read,but I didn't have the energy to do that. I took a pen and signed each of them. "Won't you read it first?" She asked, surprised. I left the pen on the desk and leaned back on my chair.
"Why would I do that?" I smiled. She put the contract in an envelope and called the secretary.
"Post this as soon as possible, please" I saw the girl leaving with the envelope. I felt so energized and happy that I could barely breathe. I hardly waited to tell my parents that I had got my first job, in my mom's home country and during two whole months! What else could a twenty-two years old girl wish for?
"So, what do I have to translate?" I asked, and Helga smiled in a strange way.
"You should have read before you signed, you know. But you're lucky, because it's a really good job and a really good training for a journalist" She said. My heart was beating so fast. Was I going to the French Parliament? Would I be working for high politicians, presidents, artists?
"I hardly wait to hear about it" I almost screamed, I couldn't wait more. Helga picked up a calendar.
"You'll be flying next week to Paris, it's a private flight for your group" She said.
"My group?" I asked, confused.
"Yes, twelve interpreters are going, from all parts of Germany. The team needs more than one translator" I felt my heart stop beating."You'll be flying with a TV channel's private airplane".
"What team?" I asked, slowly. Helga looked at me gravely.
"Ilse, you've just signed to be the personal interpreter for one of the football players of the French Selection. The employer is one of the German TV channels. You'll be translating the news into German. This year the World Championship takes place in Paris"
Football? I hated football!
"When are you leaving?" Anna asked. We were having dinner at the graduation party. The hotel's restaurant was amazing, we were wearing the most elegant dresses and felt like movie stars. My day was clouded because of Hans. He had called me but I hadn't answered the phone. My friends were pressing me to call him back, but I really didn't feel like doing it. I was free, I was leaving. I didn't tell anybody how mad I was because I didn't read the contract. They would think I was stupid for signing something without checking it, and they would be right. I hated myself for that. Two whole months rounded by arrogant and brainless football celebrities, who only dated models, went to parties and earned millions of euros, dollars and pounds kicking balls with their feet. Could there be something more stupid? Football had ruined my life, and football had ruined my first job. I thought about all the time I had spent choosing that lilac dress, the jewelry, the hairdo... I felt like a plain brunette going to a bar to take some shots of tequila and then go home.
"I'm leaving on Monday" I replied, hearing the screams of excitement of my friends.
"Oh, my god..." Elke said, jumping hysterically. "You'll get to meet the French football Selection!" I rolled my eyes.
"What's so special about that?" I replied, exasperated, as I took a sip of champagne. Ten girls observed me as if I was crazy.
"Hello?" Anne waived her hand in front of my face. "Those guys are the hottest men on Earth! We're talking about football players! Gosh, I would kill to meet any of them!" I did all my best not to get angry.
"Look, it's just a job. I translate the interview, I go. That's it. Don't think I'll be hanging out with them" I desperately wanted to change the subject, but my friends had different ideas.
"Who will you be assigned to?" Rikke asked. She was the biggest worshiper of football players I had ever met. She knew all the names of all worldwide teams, she knew about their lives and careers. I had always thought she was a bit pathetic, and I was sure I was being punished for being so mean towards her.
"I don't remember his name, can't you see that I hate football, I don't know any player and I don't watch any match?" I yelled, but the girls ignored me.
"Come on, Ilse... I'm sure you remember his name!" She insisted. I frowned, trying to get back some data to my brain.
"I don't know, I think he was Jerome" I shrugged. Rikke screamed again.
"Oh my god! Jerome Dupont! He's the captain of the French selection!" The crowd around me freaked out.
"Girls, girls!" I screamed, furious. "Stop it! I had enough, OK?" Suddenly, tears wanted to come to my eyes, but I fought them. I took a deep breath. "So what if he's Jerome Dupont? I don't know him, I don't give a shit and I don't care about any football player over the Earth!" Anne and Rikke exchanged a look.
"So, you're saying you never saw him on TV? You don't even know how he looks like?" They asked, smiling mysteriously.
"No! OK? I don't know him!"
"I'm sure you won't mind his company at all" I heard someone say. I ignored the comment and went to the toilet. My shoes were killing me, I was in a depressed mood and all I wanted to do was to disappear. I had signed for the worst job ever and now I had to cope with that. That night, in bed, before I fell asleep, I cried like a baby. I had lost Hans, my graduation party had been spoiled and the next two months were going to be hell for me. Could it get any worse?
Yes, it could...