Feedback Always welcome!
Summary A short vignette that takes place when Louis was a young mortal; presages his eventual union with Lestat.
Something was on Louis’ mind, Yvette was quite certain of it, but she was content to wait until he had thought his way around whatever it was and decided whether or not he wanted to talk about it. These two had been fast friends since babyhood and so the silence spun out in the October sunshine between them. They had fishing lines dipped into the meandering brown water, but neither one of them was paying much attention, drowsy with the warm afternoon and the comfort of each other’s presence.
Louis had removed his linen shirt and tossed it aside in an untidy heap along with his shoes and stockings. His long hair was gathered in a rough horsetail that hung over one shoulder and down his chest. Yvette could see the crescent shadows cast by the knobs of his bowed spine, starkly black on his tanned skin. He sat with his knees drawn up to his narrow boy’s chest, the fishing line held loosely in one hand. In his fourteenth year, he had already attained much of his height, but as is usual with boys of his age, he had yet to fill out and his wrists seemed too fine, his ankles too delicate contrasted with the size of his hands and his feet. For all that he had grown so quickly in such a short time, he had lost very little of his grace and his movements were not awkward or clumsy, and Yvette was secretly pleased by this for it added to her firmly held belief that Louis was not quite the same as other boys.
There was a sudden tug on Louis’ line and he let the string play out from the careful coil in his hand. His posture had gone from somnolent to intent in that moment and he rose slowly, watching the line play out. With a practiced jerk of his hand the fish was hooked and Louis began winding the line to bring it in.
“He’s a big one.” Yvette commented when the fish was landed. Louis nodded, still absorbed. He watched the fish flop in the tall grass, its gills gaping as it struggled to breathe. The sun flashed silver on its muscular body.
“I’ll hold him and you take the hook out.” He said. It took him several tries, but he managed to get a firm grasp. Yvette extracted the hook and Louis released the fish back into the water, watching the rings widen where the fish had disappeared. Dragonflies stitched the surface.
I had a dream.” Louis said, sitting down again. His hands worked the tangled line, winding it again the way Moses had taught him. Yvette stayed quiet, waiting for him to go on. After a while he did, his eyes trained on the slow water. A faint breeze stirred the moss in the massive live oaks that surrounded them.
“A man. I couldn’t see his face no matter how I tried. There was bright light in his hair. Maybe not a man. Maybe an angel.” He secured the line neatly and laid it in the grass. “I opened my mouth to say something to him, but he raised his hand and he spoke. He said the time was coming.” Louis turned his head and the look in his eyes bought the sudden metallic taste of fear into her mouth. His eyes blazed. Bright light, he’d said, and that was what she saw in his eyes.
“Were you afraid?”
“No. I was--” He struggled for the right word, his neck staining with the flush that rose to his cheeks. “Exalted.” He threw her a challenging look as though daring her to laugh.
“Like in church?” She asked, honestly puzzled. Louis sang in the choir each Sunday at Mass and the clear treble of his voice made her heart soar. That was the feeling she associated with the word he had used.
“Like that.” Louis affirmed, “But—more. I dreamed of him other times, too, but this was the first time he spoke.” He looked away. The vein in his neck pulsed steadily and looking at it made her feel funny and hot and faint all at once and there was something else, too, something portentous just out of her mind’s reach. The heated feeling drowned it out and she forgot about the feeling of missing something until later on.
There was a huge limb half submerged in the water and as she waited for him to speak again, she watched a turtle creep up to join several others stationed there, necks stretched forward as they basked.
“He extended his hand to me and I saw that he had skin so pale I could see the blue veins on the back of his hand. I reached to touch him and his hand was cool and smooth and I thought maybe that I had a fever because his touch was like a blessing. Like cool water when you are thirsty. He turned my hand over and traced my palm with his shining fingernail and for a minute I thought I could see his eyes, stormy gray eyes--”
Louis’ voice trailed off and Yvette saw that he was rubbing his left palm with the thumb of his right hand. Again she felt a nasty little lance of fear and suddenly she didn’t want to hear any more about the dream man. The breeze picked up and she heard the pop and snap of bream feeding by the lily pads near the bank where they sat. The sky had taken on a bronze cast. There was a sudden gust of wind, cool and fragrant with oncoming rain and a litter of small yellow leaves scattered across the water. Thunder muttered somewhere to the south.
“We should go.” Yvette rose to fetch her shoes.
“There’s something else.” Louis said as though he had not heard her.
“I’ll show you. Come here.”
“The storm is still far off. “
She went to him reluctantly and sat down beside him The wind gusted again and lifted the errant strands of his black hair back from his face. The avid light had faded from his eyes but she felt no less apprehensive. The feeling was strange for she was always easy around him. He put his hand in hers and turned it palm up. She looked into is eyes.
“What is it?”
“Look at my hand.”
She did, and at first she wasn’t sure just what it was she was looking for—a wound, maybe, or a splinter of wood to be pulled. After a moment, she saw and she let go of his hand with a gasp.
“That cannot be. Louis, that can’t happen.”
“But it has.”
She snatched his other hand and saw that the same thing had happened there.
Everyone has lines on their palms, creases from the way the hands close and open, and there are those that are said to be able to see glimpses of things in these lines. Yvette was one such person and what she saw before her went a far way into explaining the fear she’d felt when he had begun speaking of his dream.
His life line was—gone. The other lines were in place as they had always been, the love line there with two distinct parts, the creases at the joints of his fingers. Yvette had looked at his hands often, held them in hers, and she knew what they looked like.
The life line was gone.
“What does it mean?” he asked. His innocence broke her heart; the trust in his face wrenched at her.
“I don’t know. We should ask Maman.”
“No.” Louis said adamantly. “Not yet.”
The wind had picked up and was blowing steadily.
“She’ll know, Louis. She always knows.”
“Not yet.” He repeated, standing to go and fetch his shoes. “Promise me.”
There was a blue flash overhead, followed by a tremendous thunderclap. Louis threw his arms around Yvette and pulled her close. On the far bank of the bayou, smoke rose from the scorched side of one of the old trees; one of the higher limbs tore free with a rending screech. Fat drops of rain began to fall.
They stood staring at the tree for a long moment and then Louis said, “Put your shoes on. We have to go.”
She hadn’t promised anything, but later, in the kitchen house with Maman Mirande’s good food in their bellies, she felt better and when she met his worried eyes, she nodded to let him know that she would remain silent as he had asked.
Louis lingered in the kitchen house, more comfortable there with Mirande and Yvette and their family than he was with his own mother. His Papa was away in New Orleans and Louis was loathe to go to the big house where he was certain to receive disapproving words from Paulette de Pointe du Lac followed by banishment to his chambers, there to be alone with his new worry. He got up anyway, knowing that he was only putting off the inevitable. Mirande watched him with her sharp dark eyes; she always knew when something troubled the boy, for she’d raised him up alongside her own daughter.
“Your shirt is clean, child. Madame will think only that you were caught in the rain and not tossing your clothes so thoughtlessly into the mud.”
Louis hung his head briefly, but he saw her broad smile when he looked at her from beneath the fringe of his lashes. He smiled back.
“Merci, maman.” He said, going to receive her warm hug and a kiss on the top of his head. He loved the way she smelled, like warm bread and the pungent herbs she used in her remedies.
The storm had passed and Louis stood near the pigeoniere listening to the muffled cooing of the doves within. The lamps in the house glowed warmly but he lingered in the dark, unconsciously rubbing his palms together and thinking again of the dreams and wondering what it all meant, wondering why the figure that had beckoned with his white hands and gray eyes seemed more real to him than his waking life did. He wondered, too, why the night comforted him in ways that the sun so rarely did anymore.
"Qui êtes-vous?" Louis said into the darkness. He detached himself from the shadows and went inside.