Copyright © 2016 by Debbie Soni
Copyright © 2016 Cover Art by Debbie Soni
All Rights Reserved
1st Chapter of Adielle’s Perfume.
No part of this work may be reproduced in any manner without the written consent of the author.
Enjoy the read…..
“Nathan.” I call out.
“Oui, maman.” he answers in his cute Quebecois French and swings open the door of the office using his foot. The door now wide open shows him in a slouching position on his father’s office chair, staring at the bottom of an amber-like volumetric flask. One of his dad’s favorite flasks.
“Be careful with that. Don’t drop it.” I tell him as I take giant step towards the office.
“There’s something in it.” he observes the flask from different angles trying to figure out what is inside. As I watch Nathan’s mannerism, I am reminded of the times when I would watch his father work in the little workshop in the backyard. Paul would stare at his flasks for hours, smell them over and over again, trying to mix the right chemicals, flowers and other weird things to make the perfect fragrance. A hobby he hoped to turn into his retirement job, as he called it.
“What do you think is in there? Une fleur?”
“Maybe,” I move closer to Nathan and look at the bottom of the flask. “It does look like a flower.”
“And it smells…,” Nathan exclaims as he semi-unclogs the top “Amazing.” Indeed, the amazing fragrance escapes the confines of the flask and fills the room with a smell that seems so familiar but I am unable to remember where I first smelled it.
“Yes it does. “ I say.
“Do you think it’s because of the flower? And what flower is it?”
“What about, we go to sleep and tomorrow after school, we’ll lift the flask to dad’s special lighting in the workshop and all four of us will try to figure it out.” Nathan closes the top of the flask and gazes again at the flower-like structure inside the flask.
“I wish dad could tell us?” he puts the flask back in the bottom shelf where he had found it and walks out of the office with me.
“Oh how much I desire that as well.”
We walk up to Nathan’s bedroom. I pray with him, watch him fall asleep, and plant a kiss on his cheek before leaving the room. I go check on Naomae in the next room, she had gone to bed way before all the kids and was now deeply in dream mode with the silly smile on her sleeping face. I plant a kiss on her forehead before heading out of her room. The last bedroom I enter is Mattan’s and like usual I find him completely under the covers. A habit he has inherited from his father, who would often cover himself head to toe with bed sheets. It took sleepless nights for Paul to keep me out of Mattan’s room many times a night when Mattan was much younger because I would worry that his sleeping habit would suffocate him during the night. Paul knew he would be fine and he often laughed at how much I worried. And now I am worrying all on my own without him around to stop me from worrying so much. I pull the sheets off Mattan’s face, put two fingers by his nostrils to make sure he’s breathing and plant two kisses on his cheek and another on his forehead.
Now that I have checked that every child is alive and asleep, I step back downstairs to check that the doors are locked and the lights are off. I walk in the kitchen to make sure everything is off and the blinking red number 22 on the voicemail machine of the house phone catches my eyes, demanding my undivided attention. As I begin to walk away thinking the voicemails can wait another day, the phone rings. I quickly reach for it so that it won’t wake the kids.
“Allo. C’est qui a l’appareil s’il vous plait?” I answer in French.
“Are my grandsons sleeping already?” the voice asks blatantly ignoring my question, almost cutting me off. Despite my sleepy state, I immediately recognize the meanness of that voice; it can only be one person.
“Hello Madame Bouchard. Mattan, Nathan and Naomae are well and all asleep. It’s a bit late.” I say in an annoyed tone, even though not meaning to.
“I’ve been calling and left voicemails but no answer,” she says. I stare at the red number 22 on the voicemail machine and shake my head at the revelation that Madame Bouchard is the voice in most if not all of those voicemails. “I just wanted to check that my grandsons are well taken care of and that they are sleeping on time.”
“They are.” I say offended by her insinuation that I am not a good mother. For years, I had allowed her rudeness and hid it behind fake smiles and never stood up for myself against all her insults, but everything changed the day Paul heard her speak to me in the same way. Paul reprimanded her in front of me and her husband Monsieur Bouchard. Later that day, as their visit at the house drew to an end, Monsieur Bouchard privately told me that I was a good mother and that I should never allow his wife to be that rude to me. His words came as a surprise but they reassured me that at least one of the Bouchards believed that I was doing something right. And that night, with a long kiss, Paul ordered me to stand my ground in all politeness to all of his mother-in-law’s mean words.
“I am just checking because Madame Roy, the boys’ counselor, told me that Nathan is struggling in Science and Mattan in Literature. And she said that the home environment, schedules, sleeping time and eating could really have an effect on a child’s learning.”
“What do you mean?” I ask, almost playing dumb.
“That maybe a new environment could help stimulate better learning.” she self-importantly explains.
“First, I have a hard time believing that Nathan is struggling in Science when he is the exact image of his father, a chemist professor. Nathan spent most of his time with his dad speaking the language of Science and he knows so much and I have only heard great things from his science teacher who believes he might be a science genius.” I raise my voice in irritation. But Paul’s words ring in my ears to stand my ground in all politeness. “Secondly, I have a hard time believing that Mattan is struggling in Literature when he used to help his father with correcting spelling errors and grading college chemistry papers Paul’s students would write. On Tuesday his teacher told me that he has started writing a play and on Wednesday morning he let me read some of what he has already written. I believe he has exceptional writing skills for a 12 year old boy.” Through the phone, I hear the heavy breathing of disapproval and I can only imagine her face as she realizes that I know all my children better than she does.
“Okay.” she murmurs.
“Lastly, only good can be said about the environment in which I raise all my kids. Proof is not only that they are improving by helping each other and getting help from me, but also that their genius is rubbing off on their sister Naomae, who now exhibits genius traits and interests like her brothers. We’ve been through a lot since Paul’s death, things have been rough at times but we’ve shown how resilient we are. And we are all trying to adjust to the new environment and life we have.”
“All I am saying is that we can take the boys to ease your burden,” Madame Bouchard says. “And we can give them a different environment that will help them thrive better.”
“But they’re my children, my responsibility.”
“My daughter is Mattan & Nathan’s mother.” she finally utters without chewing her words. Memories flood my head and bring me back to the first conversation Paul and I had with the boys when they got to the age of understanding. They were five years old when we explained everything to them. Years prior to that talk we showed them pictures of their mother, Prisca, Paul’s first wife and he shared special stories about her on her birthdate. She had died during child birth because of complications that required a C-section to save the twins’ lives. The boys never knew her and lived their first few years without a mother. Through pictures and a few videos, they came to know about Prisca. She was a beautiful woman of exquisite features, her mixed race, Canadian Indian and white, glowing brown eyes and black curly hair made her stand out in a crowded room. Although the twins mostly have their father’s features-the silky brown skin, sleeping habits, and the amazing Congolese dance moves; Mattan has her glowing brown eyes and Nathan has her black curly hair.
It was two years after the boys were born that Paul and I met at the church I started attending when I moved to Montreal to live with my older sister and her family who also attended the same church. Our friendship grew to love and we were married a year later, which shocked some people who believed that Paul had remarried too early and accused me of marrying him to get legal documents to stay in Canada. Surprisingly, Madame Bouchard was okay with our union and was glad that Paul and I celebrated Prisca’s memory in the eyes of the boys and that we made efforts at teaching the boys about their mother. But once Mattan and Nathan began calling me mom as Paul wanted and to my complete joy, Madame Bouchard began to resent me. The resentment reached its highest peak once the boys were five and I gave birth to Naomae. Her birth ignited the talk because the boys kept asking me what it felt like having the two of them in my belly and I could not answer them without really explaining that I was their second mom, their living mother. From then on, Madame Bouchard dropped hints here and there to let me know that she never really considered me part of her family. I don’t usually mind her behavior or let her repeated insinuations that I should never consider Mattan and Nathan like my own children bother me, but tonight she has not hidden her true thoughts and I will not hid mine.
“Prisca will always be their biological mother, who loved them till her last breath,” I say in a clammed voice. “I am their mother in the land of the living and will continue to love them because they are a blessing God has added to my life till the day I die. And nothing will ever change that.”
“I am sure a judge will feel differently about it when I can prove that you are behind on house payments, you are still jobless and that you lack the money to care for them. I’ll be able to prove that you can’t take care of my daughter’s babies.” Madame Bouchard hangs up the phone. Her last words send a sharp pain through my chest and I can barely breathe. In complete disbelief; unable to process whether her words are simple words or threats; I hang the phone back on the holder. She didn’t mean them or did she?!
A big lump of saliva forms in my throat and tears hang on my long eyelashes. After staring at the phone for some seconds, I finally blink and tears begin to flow down my face. One slow step at a time I begin to go up the stairs, till I reach the bedroom and in the darkness of the room, I slowly walk to Paul’s side of the bed.
The pillow is soaked and my tears have turned into torrential drops pouring out non-stop. I wrap my arms around the pillow and stuff my head into it to muffle my loud cry. The kids are in neighboring rooms and I do not want them to hear their mother crying in such agony. Although I am primarily thinking of them and the pillow is doing the trick in keeping the sound from passing through the walls of our bedroom, it fails to muffle the sound in the room. I can hear myself cry in the echoes that bounce off the walls, resounding like loud speakers playing the horrible sound back to me and causing every part of me to ache in unbelievable pain. Such an unfamiliar familiarity, this pain has grown to be and I endure it all alone at night in our bedroom. I have become a great actress by putting on the brave face as a mask in front of the kids and removing it before entering our bedroom at night. Some people had told me that the first two months after Paul’s death would be the hardest but that getting back into the routine of life would help get me out of bed and help me move on.
But how am I going to get back to my routine when Paul was my routine. Him, our kids and my jewelry business; were the three parts of my routine. Now one routine is gone, the other is threatened by a pending custody battle and the third routine will take a hit from the outcome of the second one. The repeating chorus in my head was how I am supposed to get back to my routine when the most important people will be missing. I let out another cry as I sniff the soaked pillow again and catch a big whiff of a familiar fragrance. It smells like the flask Nathan found in Paul’s office with a flower inside. I tear up as I take another sniff. The bedroom door squeaks and in one motion I swiftly turn to the door, wipe my tears and throw the pillow on the floor out of sight.
“Nathan, is that you? Come in,” I rub my eyes hoping that it will make him think that I was deeply asleep and that he has just woken me. Then surprise sets in as I realize that it is Mattan, the oldest of the kids and the last one I would expect sauntering into our bedroom at such a late hour. “Is everything okay?”
“Can I sleep in your room?” The usually strong, cheerful, jokester expresses in sadness as he walks to me. With one hand I turn on the lamp and with the other, I hug him so tight, thinking of never letting go.
“Is Nathan okay? What about Naomae?” I ask still a little worried.
The door squeaks again and two sleepy children come in wanting to join Mattan and I. Nathan helps Naomae step on the bed before getting on the bed himself. I hug, kiss and tuck each with the sheets. “What if we just stay in tomorrow,” I ask as their eyes began to shutter. “No school, we just stay home. All four of us.” Mattan nods as he yawns to sleep.
“I want that maman.” Nathan says before closing his eyes.
“Maman, can we stay home tomorrow?” Naomae mumbles in her sleep. I smile and say, “This weekend is going to be a great weekend. You’ll see.”
With the way life has been for the past seven months since Paul’s heart attack, I so very much desire to truly believe my own words because I need a few great days that do not end with crying or trouble. As much as I want to resume to my crying, grab the pillow, sink my face in it to muffle the sound; the sight of my three children sleeping peacefully next to each other makes me smile. Tucked next to each other like a can of sardines, they each remind me of their father in his various sleeping habits. At least I still have them to remind me of him. Madame Bouchard’s words come back to mind and I know that what she is threatening to do might put an end to family moments like this. If she goes through with her threat, this weekend will be the only good weekend before the beginning of a long summer custody battle. And I have no chance of winning as long as I don’t have a job or get us out the financial problems we have. Hanging over us like dark clouds are unpaid bills and unpaid loans Paul had taken to buy equipment for his perfume startup in hopes of launching his retirement job five years before retiring from his teaching position at the university. He had it all planned but in one instant, his heart gave up on him and left me to salvage what’s left of our lives. Without Paul’s teaching salary, I am only a jewelry making business woman with a commerce that is not successful enough to provide our every need. I do wonder how and where I will begin in fixing all the money problems we have.
“God, I need your help. You say in your word that you are the God of the widow and the orphans. I need you to be our God too. Help us, help me.” I cry out in a hushed voice, wipe my tears and keep my eyes closed. A strong wind sweeps through the room bringing both chill and warm air. And I hear paper moving like the turning of a page. I quickly open my eyes to see if a window is open and if the wind has caused papers to fly all over the room, but the window looks closed. I get off the bed and walk to the window and check that it is closed and it is. I look around the room and there are no papers on the floor, nothing is out of place. I hear again paper moving like the turning of more pages but there is no wind in the room. Turning in the direction of where I hear the sound, I stop and face the dresser; my eyes widen at the sight of my Bible flipping pages on its own. I blink a few times, wipe my eyes, and look again at the Bible as it continues to flip from page to page. I check each side of the room to make sure no one is in the room. I turn to look at the kids who are unawaken from their sleep by the sound of the flipping pages. Only the children and I are in the room. My attention returns to the Bible that is still flipping from page to page on its own; so I slowly walk one hesitant step at a time toward the dresser. When the pages stop flipping, I halt my step with a quick panoramic view of the room, before looking back at the Bible. I take two chilling steps back thinking it stopped because I was approaching the dresser and that it will continue if I stop walking but nothing changes, the pages don’t flip. I resume my walk toward the dresser and still no sound, no flipping pages. When I reach the dresser, I look at the Bible open on a blank white space in the middle of a chapter and I am certain that the blank white space has never been there before. I fix my eyes on the blank space and words begin to appear one by one as if someone is writing by hand. Each letter appears after the other and forms words I actually understand. I take a few steps back thinking that I am completely hallucinating. I rub my eyes and blink a few times. After taking one step forward closer to the dresser, I look to see what has been written.
God has heard your prayer
My eyes widen in disbelief that words have appeared on a blank space in my Bible, they make sense in the language I speak and that the words are addressed to me. Then writings start appearing again.
Your help is coming from the Lord, your God, the maker of heaven and earth
I wipe my eyes, step away from the desk, and hastily get on the bed. “Now you’re seeing things. C’est la fatigue, Adielle; it’s been a long and crazy day. Go to bed.” I speak to myself. Laying by Nathan’s side, I gently descend my head on the pillow next to his head, and place my arm over all three of the children. After one to many blinking of my eyes, I frantically close my eyes and think of happy thoughts that can soothe me to sleep.
Adielle is in big trouble and she is about to get some supernatural help. Read the first chapter of this upcoming supernatural book.