Vienna

I was tall and handsome, raised motherless in an upper-middle-class home, baptized at birth as a Roman Catholic. I’d met Daphne, who was a half-year older, at a French conversation class and was instantly struck by her incandescent beauty. I was also entranced by her unusual name—Daphne, chased by Apollo and turned into a laurel tree sacred to the god of song. My Daphne lived close to the Vienna woods with her parents in the outlying district of Grinzing, famous for vineyards that attracted revelers in search of young wine. It was, and still is, a dreamy place with cobbled streets and baroque villas bordered by masses of lilac bushes. At the time, Daphne was being courted not just by a bevy of young men but also by a budding Austrian film company that had offered her a starring role in Musik für Dich, merely because of her looks. Meanwhile, she was escorted to every ball of the season and referred to herself smilingly as Queen of the Waltz. All this I discovered while walking her from our first French lesson to the home of a friend.

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