Even before any of us spoke, I think Maman sensed something was very wrong.
She said nothing though, as Monsieur Bruyère told her of the accident. Her face a milk-white mask, her green eyes wide and staring somewhere beyond, her fingers groped about her neck for her angel pendant. She rubbed the old bone between her thumb and forefinger.
‘Death came instantly, Madame Charpentier,’ Monsieur Bruyère said. ‘Emile did not suffer.’
Still Maman did not flinch; the only movement was the angel pendant rising and falling with her shallow breaths. My mother’s tears came only when Grégoire told her the noble didn’t even stop; he hadn’t descended from his decorated carriage to check on the commoner he’d run down.
|Women marching to Versailles|
My tears came too, burning my cheeks, and I wept long and hard for my father; for the fascinating stories he conjured up to entertain me––tales of werewolves, of flying snakes with boils for eyes, and of green men who looked frightening but were harmless. I sobbed for his stories from the far-off coast––of mermen who broke fishermen’s nets and of horned men who stole young girls, because there were no horned women. I cried for the touch of his tender hand, which seasons of carpentry and knife-grinding had roughened and calloused.