Tomorrow, France celebrates the storming of the Bastille on 14th July, 1789, an important event in Paris during the revolution that had begun two days beforehand. Celebrations are held all over the country, and it is a public holiday. And in the evening, in the rural French village in which I live, a party with fireworks is planned.
Extract from Chapter 39 of Spirit of Lost Angels…
More and more people massed around the burning fortress, smoke flapping into the grim sky like a hero’s flag. Whole families streamed onto the streets. They brought their children, their dogs, to see the fiery spectacle.
I watched Aurore, caught up in the dancing, chanting revellers, and still I could not entice her away from that bloody, triumphant scene. I was about to leave on my own when I heard, amidst the din, a voice calling.
I spun around, wondering whoever was addressing me. My eyes scanned the knot of unfamiliar faces, but besides Aurore, I knew nobody. I heard the voice again. ‘Rubie.’
Whoever would be calling me? Still I recognised no one, then I glimpsed the face of a young girl wearing a scarlet dress, and my hand flew across my mouth.
She was some distance away, but I could make out the cinnamon-coloured curls. My own ten-year old face. I could have sworn too, she was wearing a necklace––a small angel carving perhaps, threaded onto a strip of leather. I felt giddy, and held Aurore’s arm to stop myself fainting.
The girl had turned from me and was vanishing into the crowd. I started pushing people aside, stepping on feet, shoving my way through the throng.
‘Rubie, Rubie, wait. Wait! Don’t leave me again!’ I thought I would burst with desire, with hope, and with the fear I wouldn’t reach her.
Like the river in a summer drought, the girl receded from me, further and further. Then she was gone.