The next morning, Gabby Baptiste made her way down the wide corridor leading from her kitchen to the dining room. She took small steady steps as she balanced the tray in her hands.
Gabby was a tiny woman in her in her early sixties. She was an attractive woman with dark brown hair was piled high on her head. A frizzle of soft graying strands lightly highlighted her temples.
“Good morning Camille,” Grabby said excitedly, entering the dining room as she gripped the laden tray tightly in her hands. It rattled loudly as she placed it on the table in front of her daughter.
The aroma of eggs, ham, potatoes and French toast filled the air as Gabby quickly laid them out on the dining room table.
Camille’s smile widen. She could never stay mad at her mother, with her bright smile and even brighter sunny yellow apron. The apron her mother was wearing was ridiculous. It sported a huge sunflower with a happy face consisting of buttons for eyes and orange yarn sewed on for its mouth. But she loved seeing her mom in it. The apron brought back memories of their first sewing project. It was sewn the year Camille was in sixth grade. It was her home economics class project.
“Camille, when you were little I used to fill this old teapot with milk. I’d serve you milk and cookies and let you pour, remember?” Gabby asked smiling as she gently poured a cup of tea.
“It smells heavenly,” Camille said as her mouth watered looking at all the good food.
Grabby tilted her head. “I made the French toast just the way you like it, with fresh orange juice whipped into the egg batter.”
“Gosh I love you Mom. You made all my favorites,” Camille smiled hefting large portions of food on to her plate.
Gabby watched her daughter intently. Her eyes glistened over with a mother’s love.
Camille took a bite of her French toast. “Hmmmmmm it’s so good.” She gazed quickly at her mother and nodded. Instantly she realized her mother’s face was sad. She knew she was upset.
“What is it mother?”
Her mother poured herself a cup of tea and sat down next to her daughter. She took a sip before she spoke. Her voice was strained. “I didn’t mean to upset you. I wouldn’t know what to do if you left and moved out,” she said sadly. “You know I wouldn’t throw out Desmond picture.”
“No wonder you cooked all of this food,” Camille said licking syrup off of her finger.
Camille wiped her hands on her napkin before reaching over to touch her mother’s hand.
“Mom its okay,” she said leaning over to give her mother a hug. “I was overreacting. I should never have yelled at you like I did. I’m so sorry.”
They hugged for several moments.
Gabby pulled out of her embrace first. She gazed back at her daughter. Tenderly she brushed a strand of hair from her face. “Camille my baby I’m sorry too.”
Camille’s face lit with happiness watching her mother smile. She turned her attention back to her plate and took a mouth full of food.
Gabby breathed out. Her voice shook with sadness. “I should have realized this has been an extremely trying time for you,” a remorseful strain rose in Gabby’s voice. “I should have realized how much Desmond meant to you.”
“Yes he did mean a lot to me mother,” Camille said swallowing another bite. She put a smile on her face hoping to lift her mother’s spirits. “But at least I still have you. Now it’s just you and me against the world.”
Gabby softly smiled. “Yes, two women against the world.” Her eyes flashed as if in deep thought. “But we are not two women alone in the world. We have family therefore we are rich in blood kin. Did you forget those cousins of mine?”
Camille almost choked on her tea. She laughed out. “Oh yeah begging Cousin Tobias Baptiste, better known as give-me-some money right now you know I’m good for it,” her voice shook with laughter. “And then there is loan me some money and I’ll pay you back on Tuesday. Better known as Cousin Giveme’ Hudson Baptiste. But what he really means is Tuesday in the year of never.”
Gabby joined her daughter laughing. “You know your cousins.”
Camille caught her breathe and sighed. She stiffened. She had almost forgotten about her cousin Larentia Acca Baptiste. She stared into her cup.
Camille stared off into the distance remembering her cousin. A faraway look appeared in her eyes.
Larentia Acca Baptiste was born with smoldering good looks. Her cousin Larentia thought she was a goddess. She had a face that looked like one. But she had a heart that was cruel, evil, mean, and empty.
The moment was awkward.
Gabby glanced at her. The color had drained from Camille’s face. She looked at her hand. The cup in Camille’s hand was tipping.
She reached out her hand and wrest the cup from her grip. “Camille…..”
“Oh,” Camille said coming out of her trance. She looked at her empty hand.
“I know what’s occupying your mind,” Gabby said with a pause.
Camille shoved another bite of food into her mouth. “What?”
“You’re thinking about your cousin Larentia?”
“Who? No…..No. What I was thinking about was that I’m out of tea,” she said pouring herself another cup.
Gabby blinked with her thoughts. “Larentia wasn’t as lucky as you, Camille. When she was growing up, she had it hard. A hard life can sometimes harden a child. You had two parents who loved you.”
Camille looked wary. She heard this story too many times to count. She thought of a diversion.
“Mother aren’t you going to bingo?”
“Gabby face perked up. “You…You think I should go? And leave you all alone?”
Camille gave her an encouraging nod. “Yes. Now get out of her before you’re late for your bingo game.”
Trying her best not to look too excited Gabby said. “Are you sure you don’t want me to stay with you?”
Camille’s voice was tender. “Oh, Mom you should go and have some fun. I’ll be fine.”
Gabby looked back at Camille taking off her apron. “Well if you are sure you will be okay. I guess I’m going to bingo”.
Twenty minutes later, Camille stood beside the living room window clutching the curtain as she watched her mother’s car pull away from the curb.
Camille closed the curtain and walked back into the dark living room and sat in her favorite chair. She sat drinking her tea. She turned her head glancing at the faint light coming from the hallway. She heard faint sounds. Her mother had left her television on again in her bedroom.
Camille sat back in her chair contemplating whether she should get up and go and turn off the television.
Suddenly she thought she heard something.
She tilted her head. Her ears strained trying to hear. The television wasn’t on anymore. She thought she heard the sound of footsteps in the distance.
“It’s such a beautiful day outside,” a detached wry voice said.
Her thoughts raced. Was she hallucinating?
The footsteps got closer.
A cold chill came out of nowhere. Then a shiver ran down Camille’s spine.
“The living should enjoy the sunshine. Only the dead should stay inside,” the voice said.
Camille turned her head around. The voice she thought she’d heard off in the distance was now coming from the sofa across from her.
Her eyes grew wide as she watched a strange light illuminate bright into a vapor of air that transcended into a body form.
“Shut your mouth Camille or you’ll catch flies. Don’t you know its hard work to come and pay a visit from the other side?”
Stay tuned…….to be continued…