Addie throws the question over her shoulder. Gertrude stands ready with a basket for gathering berries.
“No,” Gertrude replies.
“Chanson des voyageurs. Song of souls sold for passage back to France. Some nights, you see them in their glowing chasse-galeries—flying canoes, falling through the sky back to earth.”
“I like old stories.”
“Old? Phooey. Way of the north woods.”
“Have you more … ways?”
“Non. Indians do, of course. Never point at a shooting star, they say, because if you ever hide, another shooting star will point at you in turn and give you away.”
“Phooey. A Frenchman need never hide. Point away. And then make the sign of the cross. Mon Dieu! … What is that?” Addie points to a man crawling at the edge of the woods.
“Your brother, Michel. He’s become an accomplished botanist.”
“Ah, bon. I feared a loup-garou, a wolf-man. They try to befriend lone travellers. Tres mal.”
Gertrude nods. “I wish we could stay longer.”
“But, soon. When you and Michel come to settle with the baby. … Of course, you’ll get married with your people.”
“Oh, he told us all last night, after you turned green and we sent you to bed. … Ah, but child, why cry now? The milk is spilt.”
Gertrude collapses among the herbs and strawberries, like an unstrung marionette. Addie sits silently next to the sobbing girl and takes her hand. “But it’s all settled now. Mais, c’est la vie.”
Overhead, loons call.
“But of course you know about loons?” Addie points skyward.
Gertrude looks up, lips trembling.
“Only if you’re caught crying when loons call, it’s a sign of good fortune. Propitious.”
Gertrude laughs and buries her face in the folds of Addie’s skirts.
• • •
C. R. Resetarits has had short fiction published recently in New York (Transportation), NANO, and Post Road. New short-shorts will be out soon in Vagabonds: Anthology of the Mad Ones 3, No. 1 (Weasel Press, 2014) and The Newer York Book IV. Her essay on Hawthorne, gender, and genre appeared in Literary Imagination, and her poetry collection Brood will be available this winter from Mongrel Empire Press.
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