Paris Metro / by Karie Luidens

Motorbikes, languages, the sharp wind loaded with perfume and exhaust: Paris was rubbing itself all over me. After turning a few more corners, I spotted one of the famous Art Nouveau signs that mark the métro stations. Its green-painted metal curled over the entryway with such thin grace that it seemed organic, but it was also cold, imposing; like a praying mantis, it arched its neck to gaze down on me.

I paused before it. It guarded the gate to anywhere. The stairs descended into darkness. I fingered the strap of my bag as I stepped down into the gaping mouth.

Underground the station festered with the dry heat of electricity and metal and bodies coming and going. I found a map on the wall and inspected it: colored lines threaded their way through pale blue geometry. Who knew which way was best? When the next train pulled into the station, I stepped inside.