On Sunday morning, we were literally about to walk out the front door to drop a couple of visitors at the station, when the door buzzer rang.
"Oui?" I am closest to the intercom, so it's up to me to play the game of "guess what the person on the other end is trying to say". Not so easy in English, a bugger of a game in French.
"Pshenfet." Completely incomprehensible.
I turn around and shrug at my companions, "it's probably just some kids. They are always doing that."
The door buzzes again.
"Oui?" I yell again into the speaker.
We all look at each other and freeze.
Sylvain is the first one to move and he races out the door. I turn to my friends and screw up my face in confusion.
"We weren't that rowdy last night, surely?"
"Noooo," they reassure me.
30 seconds goes by, no sign of Sylvain, no sign of our mysterious visitors.
"That's it, I'm going up to see what's going on." I grab my keys and march upstairs, followed dutifully by my three visitors.
We get outside, and there is not a sign of anyone. No husband. No unexpected visitors. One of my companions races to the other end of the apartment building to see if she can spot anyone. I skip down the stairs on the side of the building - perhaps they've gone around the other side?
Not a sign. Not a peep. We all return to the front of the building and look at each other.
It's not as if we ever do anything wrong... But horrible, paranoid thoughts are running through my mind. What if it's a case of mistaken identity and Sylvain has been accused of something and they've dragged him to the car and are driving him to the station right at this very moment ? The thought that I read too much crime fiction also runs through my mind.
Suddenly a phone chirps.
"âllo?... oui... we're searching for YOU... we're upstairs... ok... we'll be right down..." She turns to me, "they're looking for YOU".
I turn pale as I race inside and practically throw myself down the steps and go inside the apartment. There stands Sylvain, with two police officers. They nod as I enter, then they nod at the one, two, three girls who have followed me through the front door.
"It's you?" they ask me, then look over their shoulders at the three girls who have now installed themselves on the couch to watch the proceedings.
"It's me." I nod. I wonder what I could possibly have done.
Sylvain hurries to explain, "We must have been coming down the elevator whilst you were coming up the stairs to find us..." (ah ha - that explains the lost husband) "They are here to see both of us..."
"It's for the prefecture," one of the police officers speaks up. "We believe you have made a demand for a carte de sejour?"
"Oh yes, yes..." I sigh in relief (thank goodness they haven't decided that buying too many skin care products at Sephora is a crime), then get all nervous again as I see Sylvain pulling out his wallet and his carte d'identité. I paw through my handbag to find my passport and hand it to them, "here you are."
"We're just here to verify the situation," the police officer says again. His partner just watches, lets him talk.
"Oh! and I have a récipissé if you need it!" I pull it out of my little passport pouch and shove it into the hands of the police officer, who is thumbing through the pages of my passport, looking at all my pretty holographic stamps and stickers and murmuring to himself. He flicks through some official-looking papers in his hands as he checks them against the details of my passport and Sylvain's carte d'identité.
"You work here?" he asks.
"Yes yes!" I nod energetically.
"What do you do?" he looks at me, pen in hand.
"I'm... a maquettiste," I watch him scribble it down. "Do you need the address or phone number of my employer? I'm happy to give it to you!"
"No, no," he waves his hand. "We're going to be making a report and you'll receive a convocation soon."
And with that, they wish us a good day and they leave.
Sylvain and I look at each other and sigh.
I didn't see this coming at all. You hear the rumours, but I didn't realise that they actually do such check-ups in reality. I really hope that they found out the right things and that all will go well in my application for a 10 year Carte de Sejour. I guess we're lucky that we were actually at home, and hadn't left five minutes earlier, as we originally planned! Now we'll just have to wait patiently for the convocation to arrive in the mail.
What a lovely way of passing a Sunday morning.
"You were really polite!" my companions giggle from their positions on the couch. I just hope that the police didn't think that we were in the practice of harbouring foreigners or something. heh.