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South of France in a Town Called La Trèpas

by terryamerican 4 months ago in Love

A short love story of youthful exuberance and overcoming loss.

South of France in a Town Called La Trèpas
Photo by Viktor Talashuk on Unsplash

The daises shook their white manes in the windy dew sprinkled morning. Father’s chateau gleamed brilliantly in the soft sunlight. I felt the shivers trickle down my spine as the wind picked up and, like it always did, wisp my long brunette hair against my tan freckled cheeks. The gardener had always done an amazing job, but this summer he had outdone himself. The flowers were arranged in neat little rows which intertwined as they worked their way down to the antique fountain that rested at the bottom of the small hill. There were daises, roses, petunias, and marigolds, all mixed together in beautiful patterns and colorful designs. Four slender marble statues stood closer to the fountain all facing different directions. My favorite was the beautiful one-armed woman who looked outwards into the mountains that surrounded La Trèpas. Her smile reminded me of my mother.

Mother had passed giving birth to my brother Augustus. Sadly, he too passed shortly thereafter. He had a problem with his heart from what the doctor said. We had tried to save him, but with no way to cure his problem, he had gone. I always miss holding my little brother as my Mother had done to me when I was his age. He was a remnant of a life too quickly smothered by the quick hand of death. And now, my memories of him are memories of dread so I try to not think about him too much. But here, in the garden, Mother and I would sit in the sun as she braided my hair and told me how beautiful I looked. Every memory of Mother brings sadness and pain for both souls that are somewhere far from me now.

The wind blew again and as the shivers trickled once more, I held my bonnet on to keep it from blowing off.

There he was again.

The mischievous boy from the poorer side of town would follow the path that led outside the back gate as he was delivering papers. He always stopped and waved at me before I waved back. But today he didn’t wave at all. He just glanced my way and as I caught his eye, he hurried off down the path.

Something seemed wrong with him.

I skipped down the garden trail to the gate that led to the same path the boy was walking. I grabbed my dress at the front to avoid it from snagging on the iron bars and quickly skipped away to catch up with the boy.

I came along the main road and the bustling street put me at ease.

The black-haired boy was making his way to the street that led in front of Father’s chateau.

“Hellooo!” I said as sweetly as I could muster as the boy glanced towards me and then quickly turned the corner.

Hmmm... I thought. How strange.

I hurried along the sidewalk and turned to see the boy had vanished.

Walking slowly, I headed towards the chateau and stopped at any sound that might be the odd boy hiding in the bushes that adorned the walkway.

The boy had to deliver his papers so he had to come out eventually.

Once I was back home, I sat comfortably on the grass outside of Father’s house, but after an hour or so of waiting I grew impatient and went inside. I decided I would ambush the boy later that week as he delivered the morning paper. Then, I could finally ask why he was acting so strange.

***

The next morning, I rose, bathed, and pampered myself before stepping outside in my pink chemisette. I hadn’t gone to the garden as I usually did. No. I was on a mission.

I stepped out and found an uncomfortable spot behind the tall pillar that supported the entrance way to Father’s spacious porch.

Eventually, I heard the boy’s footsteps as he got close to the door. I had carefully gone to the other side of the pillar as he walked up the porch. He knocked and the maid gave him his one franc for the week, he gave her the paper, and he turned to go to the next house. As soon as the maid closed the door, I sneakily made my way behind him.

“So, why did you run from me?” I asked.

He turned and I hadn’t realized how handsome he was. His blue eyes beamed at me in panic and his button nose flared in disbelief.

He turned to run but I got in front of him and blocked his exit.

“There. Now you haven’t any where to go. So,” I crossed my arms and puffed my chest out, “why did you run?”

He smiled. His smile was adorable, but tough.

“Because my papa says not to talk to rich girls.”

I gasped.

“Excuse me! How rude you are to talk about my status! I was only born into this world! I did not choose my lineage.”

I sighed and turned away from the boy. Too insulted to look towards him.

“I’m sorry madame. I was only answering your question.”

His voice was sweet. It relaxed me.

I turned towards him.

“I accept your apology.”

“Okay. Well, I still have my papers to deliver so if you could kindly let me.”

I hadn’t even thought of his job. How selfish of me.

“Oh.” I crossed my arms again, “well, I want to go to the pond this weekend. My Father says I need company to go and you seem like fun.”

“I’m sorry, but my papa has me working for him on the weekends.”

I frowned. I had hoped to get to know this silly boy who had always waved to me. I had to think of something.

“I can give you money. Will you go with me then?”

He put one arm around his waist and held on to his other arm tightly.

“I don’t think my papa would..”

“Nonsense!” I exclaimed, “I’ll give you 20 francs to go with me.”

He gasped.

“No. I can’t take money from..”

“30!” I shouted.

He laughed.

“I’m not up for auction madame. I can’t accept a..”

“50!” I yelled, covering my mouth because a lady shouldn't scream as I just had.

He laughed again. His laugh was sweet too.

“Ok. I’ll talk to my papa and see. But, he is a very stubborn man so don’t expect anything to come of this.”

“Fine!”

“Fine.”

“I’ll see you here tomorrow then.” I stepped aside, “you may go now.”

He laughed again and made his way down the steps that led to Father’s porch. He adjusted his paper bag and waved.

“Au revoir!”

I waved and smiled realizing my cheeks were hot from a fuzzy feeling I hadn’t ever felt before.

***

I waited at the same place the next morning expecting to see the boy.

He smiled as he saw me and I smiled too. He slowly made his way up the steps and handed me that day’s paper.

“Well. Have you asked your father?”

“Yes. He said that 20 francs was more than enough and that he appreciates you being so persistent and kind.”

I blushed.

“Well, I said 50 so I am going to give you 50.”

He laughed again. With his laugh came a calming wave of relief.

“No thank you madame. 20 is more than enough.”

“Well,” I said handing him two 20 francs and two 5, “you can take the thirty and use it as you see fit.”

He took the money gracefully and turned away from me.

“What is wrong?” I asked him, lightly brushing his arm.

He turned quickly as I touched him, and I could see his eyes were wet.

“I truly appreciate this madame. I will forever be in your debt.”

I smiled.

“Now, no need for that. I truly appreciate you coming with me to the pond. I am in your debt...” I realized I hadn’t asked him his name.

“What is your name?” I asked.

“Louie. And yours?”

“Abigail.” I said extending my hand with a curtsy.

He caressed my hand and placed a gentle kiss upon it. I almost fainted.

“Thank you Abigail.” He said with a smile.

I couldn’t speak. I just nodded and smiled as politely as I could.

“I will be here Saturday around this same time.” He said as he turned to walk away.

I stood there with my hand still outstretched until he called to me from the road.

“Are you alright Abigail?” He hollered towards me.

I snapped out of my flustered dizziness and smiled.

“Yes.”

He waved and walked away as I melted into the floor.

***

The boy arrived early. He found me waiting outside watching him walk up the steps in his dingy button-down shirt and brown pantaloons. He looked handsome, but in an earthy sense.

“Good morning Abigail?” He asked.

“Better now.” I responded with a smile.

I had brought out a blanket and a basket of little sandwiches and fruit for the picnic I had planned. He grabbed the basket and put the blanket under his arm.

The surroundings slowly turned more rural as we walked south to the outskirts of La Trèpas. I grew calmer as we came upon the path to the sun-speckled pond.

“Here we are!” I exclaimed, excited at the thought of our hidden and secluded lunch.

Louie outstretched his hand gesturing me to lead into the small path and I graciously curtsied and skipped forward into the clearing on the other side of the trail.

I turned to see Louie, eyes widened, staring at the pond.

“Do you like it?” I asked.

“Like it?” Louie asked, “I love it! I can’t believe I have never been here before!”

“Well, you live on the opposite side of Trèpas so I can show you the rest of the hidden gems which my Mother has gracefully shown me.”

“Your mother?” He asked, “I haven’t met her. Is she usually busy in the morning when I come by?”

“No.” I said a little too aggressively. Thoughts of Augustus and Mother filled my head.

“I’m sorry Abby. I didn’t mean to be intrusive.”

Louie had started laying the blanket and our lunch out. He looked so handsome and gentle that I had to apologize for being so short with him. Plus, Abby was a rather cute nickname.

“It’s ok Louie. Mother sadly passed from childbirth when I was young.”

He looked up and I could see a hint of knowing sadness that my statement had caused.

“So, she is never busy. She is in heaven and I assume very comfortable.” I said trying my best to smile.

He smiled.

The same smile Father would give me when I fixed his coffee or cleaned for him.

I then realized how wise he looked.

“Well, my mama died young too..” Louie said setting the basket down on the blanket.

“It started with a bad cough but continued to worsen and worsen until she could hardly breathe.”

He sat down on the blanket looking towards the pond as I sat beside him.

“Horrible how death can be such a slow degrading thing.”

I agreed.

We sat underneath the soft sunlight basking in its warmth as we ate. The noise of birds chirping slowly became more distant while Louie seemed to drift me off to a place where no harm could come of anyone. I felt the wind send shivers up my back. It blew my hair gently and tickled my neck as I laid my head on Louie’s shoulder listening to him talk about a rabid dog and his paper route.

I closed my eyes and realized that the air stood still. The sound of water rippling to the pond’s bank lessened until all I could hear was Louie’s voice. I realized I was happy again. Mother would be proud to see me truly smile. For it had been too long.

Love

terryamerican

me write. me like books.

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