This is chapter six of my novel CHICAGO TIME. It will be available for purchase from Amazon.com and Smashwords on Monday April 2. You can read more about the novel here. Previous chapters can be read here: One, Two, Three, Four, and Five.
6 – “Someone With Your Skills”
Elise took a bite out of her slice of deep-dish pizza. It was filled with spinach and cheese. She admitted to herself that the pizza was very good and that she would miss it just a little bit, but not in the same passionately devoted way she had heard so many Chicagoans claim they would miss it. She was sitting at the conference table in between Paul Laurent, one of the French-speaking lawyers, and Julian. Everyone involved in the negotiations was taking a break for lunch, which had been ordered in from Giordano’s. People were standing, stretching, and chatting in small groups.
Interpreting for the other French-speakers had made Elise more anxious to get to Paris. Paul spoke English fluently with very little accent. But some of the French business people and the other two French attorneys spoke English with a bit of difficulty.
“Elise, thank you for jumping in on such short notice,” said Julian.
“You’re welcome,” she said.
“You did a wonderful job,” said Paul, and then he took a drink from his bottled water. He was thin, wearing gray wire-rimmed glasses. He was amazed that someone with Elise’s French skills was only a receptionist. There were better, more lucrative, jobs for people like her. Could she not find one? It was a shame to see someone like her not putting her skills to use. He knew a place in Chicago where Elise would do very well.
“It was fun,” said Elise with a smile full of satisfaction. Being able to deploy her French skills in such a demanding way made her feel useful.
“You are very lucky, Julian, to have someone like her on your staff.”
“Elise is leaving us in a few weeks,” said Julian.
Paul turned back to Elise. “Really? Where are you going?”
“What are you going to do there?”
“Well, that’s not completely sorted out just yet. But I have a number of leads.” Elise put another piece of pizza into her mouth.
“I wish you the best of luck then…It is unfortunate in a way, because I know a place right here that is looking to hire someone with your skills.”
Elise chewed and swallowed quickly. “What kind of job is that?”
“There is a French immersion school, a private school, that is looking for a teacher. For 4th grade, I believe. It is not enough to have a degree in French and a teaching certificate. The person must be totally fluent. Someone like yourself.”
“There’s a French school here? In Chicago?”
“Yes. Did you not know that?”
Elise shook her head no. In all the time she had been in Chicago, she hadn’t heard one thing about it. She set her white plastic fork and knife onto her paper plate.
“It is quite a good school,” said Paul. “Our son and daughter go there. They are seven and five. If you are at all interested, I could put you in contact with the school’s principal.”
“Where is it?”
“In the Uptown neighborhood.”
Uptown? thought Elise. A French Immersion school in Uptown? You’d think the Gold Coast or Lincoln Park would have something like that already. She could probably take the Montrose Avenue bus every day to work. 15 minutes, tops. But she did not expect the words that came out of her mouth next. “I’ll have to think about that.”
“I understand. You cannot just drop a big move like the one you are taking. Moving to another country is not a small task. I do understand.” He smiled and returned to eating his lunch.