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Pardonnez-moi?

I turned at the sound of her soft, yet insistent, voice. “Mais qu’est ce que vous faites dans mon laboratoire?

Yikes! I’d done it again. Meditated my way to another out-of-body experience during my morning tai-chi exercises. It was getting to be a habit. But, today, I had outdone myself. Not only had I traveled through time, I had crossed the Atlantic in the process. And landed in the lab – almost in the lap – of my heroine.

Excusez-moi, Mme Curie,” I stammered. Fortunately, she saw my linguistic distress and asked again – this time in heavily accented English, “What are you doing in my laboratory? And, why are you dressed in those strange clothes? Answer me, or I shall call the gendarmes.”

Quickly, I explained that I was meditating and had no idea how I had landed in her lab, in Paris, on the very day that she and Pierre had succeeded in purifying radium.

“I am not certain that I understand,” she said, frowning in her puzzlement. “But as you are already here, would you like to see my laboratory?”

Enchantée,” I replied, as I followed her. The lab quite resembled the set from the 1943 black-and-white film about the Curies. I was amazed at how well MGM had nailed all the details. Even the little crucible of radium was sitting on its stand, glowing proudly as though it had done something wonderful all on its own.

Suddenly, there was a crash and the sound of loud hammering. “Qu’est ce que c’est?” I exclaimed, shocked back into French.

“Just the construction workers starting up next door,” my husband replied as he walked out onto the deck. “Aren’t you done with that tai-chi stuff yet? It’s almost time for breakfast.”

“And, by the way, when did you learn to speak French?”

I heaved a sigh, whispered an “au revoir” to Marie, and went inside to dress.

©2012 Phyllis Entis. All rights reserved.

A Note of Explanation: This prompt (Marie Curie + tai-chi) was the result of a random draw. Each member of the group wrote the name of a famous person on one slip of paper and an activity on a separate slip. The papers were placed into two envelopes, after which each of us drew a name from one envelope and an activity from the other. The challenge was to write a coherent story that included both the famous person and the activity.

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