Grandmere’s Secret Part II

Michelle had found Angelique’s body in the attic. She’d hid
there when Katrina hit.

And now these people, these strangers, wanted to buy it. What do they know of the scent of magnolias in the air each morning, or the taste of the Mississippi?

She’d pleaded with her father to keep the house. But André
had said no. “The water damage is too bad and now the insurance
company won’t pay!” He spat these last words bitterly. “Thirty years,
thirty years Mama pay them bloodsuckers, eh? And now they won’t
fix her house!”

“We can fix it Papa!”

André only shook his head. “No Cherie, it’s just a shell, not
worth saving.”

She remembered playing in the backyard with her sister,
Simone, both running from her grandmother giggling on stubby
little legs, past the vegetable garden and wild roses… until
Angelique would collapse on her white lawn chair laughing with
them.

“Time for a snack, eh?” And grandmere would shoo the
little girls through the backdoor into the kitchen for sweet cakes
and milk.

Michelle remembered the mantelpiece and the sepia
photographs that lined it too. Photos of Angelique when she was
young, and Grandpere Henri who’d died when Simone was just a
baby. There were pictures of her father as a solemn eyed toddler
too, wedding pictures of him and her mother Louisa, of her Great
Grandmere Cosette; and one photo of her lover André.

Angelique told them of their family history: how their roots
could be Angelique told them of their family history: how their roots
could be traced to Dahomey, Africa, where men and women were
great warriors, before the French had enslaved them. Grandmere
told them that their ancestors had fought in the revolution too
under General Toussaint to free Haiti, and some later made their
way to New Orleans.

When they were older, the sisters learned the history of the
house. Cossette had worked as a laundry woman. She was also a
great Vodoun mambo, who’d first met their Great Grandpere André
Dumont, a rich white man, in New Orleans. And Cosette had
petitioned the loa to give André sight into his own heart.
Soon after, he became smitten with her dark beauty and
strength. But to publically proclaim his love would have meant
death for them both. So he hired Cosette as his maid, and on his
deathbed willed her the house.
Michelle remembered her father shouting, when he first
caught grandmere telling his daughters about Cosette. She’d never
seen him so angry!
“You never tell them these things again!” He’d raged, his
café au lait face twisted with emotion. “Such stories to tell little
girls!”

But when they were 14 and 12 the sisters had snuck away to
a Vodoun ceremony. Michelle remembered holding tight to
Simone’s hand in the moonlight, watching…With the sound of the
drums punctuating his movements, a young man stepped into the
dance court wearing a cane in the crotch of his pants.

The drums accentuating his movements as he skillfully spun
with leaps and pirouettes…suddenly he shuddered, and fell to the
ground as if in the throes of a seizure…then he became an old man,
walking laboriously with a cane.

It was Papa Legba, the ancient loa who stands at the
crossroads of life and death – the honored one who is called before
all others.

One by one, the loa appeared and rode their human horses.
The sisters watched wide eyed as a woman fell to the ground and
became a serpent… as another transformed into a growling
panther…

Previously published in Genesis Science Fiction Magazine 2010
Cover art and design by Quinton Veal

Copyright 2010, 2012 Valjeanne Jeffers all rights reserved
Download the free ebook at smashwords

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