As always, here is the link to the updated French to English translations: http://alysonbowen.blogspot.com/2014/05/french-to-english-translations.html#.U50j3hZcMpD
As a new month dawned, the change in season was completed. The vineyards seemed to have a beautiful orange and yellow glow to them that matched the chrysanthemums they carried as they walked to the family cemetery for Toussaint.
The morning had been just as awkward as Phillippe had expected. He hadn’t encountered either De La Fontaine sister since he left Vi’s birthday party. When he arrived, Dai was sitting and painting in her usual window seat tucked behind the giant spiral staircase that took up half of the sitting room, while Vi was nowhere to be seen. He watched Dai’s brush strokes in quiet awe until she put down her brush and wiped her hands clean. “It looks très belle.” He finally broke the silence that had been echoing off the stone walls.
“Merci, Phillippe.” She lowered her head and tried to distract herself by cleaning her brushes.
“You have such a natural talent for art. Is that the vineyard?”
“Well, actually I started it last week when we were visiting the vineyard à Champagne. We were only there for a few days so I’ve been improvising most of it because the lighting changed so fast, and now I don’t even have the view for reference. I was hoping to finish it before l’école commence le lundi, but it doesn’t look like I’ll finish.” The edges of the painting were still blank except for the occasional pencil mark, and the sky hadn’t been touched yet.
“C’est incroyable. Tu es incroyable.”
Dai finally smiled up at Phillippe as she untucked her hair from the pins that held it out of her face while painting. “Je suis désolée for getting upset with you at Vi’s fête. I don’t normally react that way.”
“Ne t’inquiète pas. You shouldn’t have to apologize. I wasn’t acting very nice and you just pointed it out. Things have been really tough between our parents and it’s putting extra pressure on me and my relationship with Vi. I feel terrible for how I treated you and the things I said about Vi. Why don’t we just forget about it? I brought over some chrysanthemums for Rose’s grave after thinking of our conversation about her.”
Dai started to relax and found it easier to smile. “C’était très sympa. Let me go change out of my painting clothes, and I’ll get Vi.”
While she was upstairs, he retrieved the chrysanthemums from his car, and 20 minutes later they were placing the flowers on the grave. Phillippe had assumed they would stay by the grave for a little while to pay their respects, but Vi pulled out her portable and strolled away having a conversation with one of her innumerable friends.
Dai sighed at Vi, but sat down on the neatly trimmed grass next to the headstone. “Ma famille never really celebrated Toussaint with anything special, so Vi doesn’t enjoy it very much. Even though Rose died il y a 18 ans, it’s still pretty hard on everyone. It’s like a huge part of us is missing.”
“I don’t blame Vi. Death is sometimes hard to face. I was hoping I’d get to talk to her for a little bit. I’ve had to lie to mon père about conversations we’ve had and I’m starting to feel guilty about it.”
“Well, you don’t have to leave without trying again. Stay here for a little while and she’ll eventually come around. Plus, then you can postpone a confrontation from Hubert about how everything is going.”
He hadn’t planned to spend the entire day at the De La Fontaine estate, but the more he thought about it, the better it sounded. The only other thing he had contemplated doing that day was driving out to Domfront, but he had no idea what he would do with Rose once he got there. He hadn’t decided on another place to take her yet. There really weren’t very many places in that area. So, he decided to stay and try to get a conversation out of Vi. His father would be so excited.
Because of the holiday, Domfront seemed busier than everyone was used to, so after Rose had taken her usual trip to buy groceries, she had stayed to help in the shop. It had been a dull week, so she had looked forward to getting some fresh air and getting back into her book. However, she figured the extra hours and pay would help her family, so she decided helping out her aunts would be best.
In the late afternoon she was surprised with a visitor. “Dahlia! What are you doing here?”
“I haven’t seen you since last week. I was worried you were avoiding me.”
Rose had to laugh. “I would never do that. I’ve been wrapped up with work.” She walked out from behind the counter to return some clothes to their racks.
Dahlia followed Rose to the far side of the store where she hung up two dresses. “Well that’s a relief. I spent all week thinking I had done something wrong, like stealing Phillippe’s affections.”
Rose shushed Dahlia. “Mes tantes don’t know about him. They would go fous if they knew I was spending time with a stranger. They almost didn’t let me spend last week with you. Elles sont paranoïde.”
“I guess that happens when you live in a tiny town where everyone knows everyone else. You don’t know how to live outside of your comfort zone. I mean, when I first met...” she paused, and Dahlia nodded to show she knew who was being mentioned. “I didn’t know how to talk to him because I was so uncomfortable. Later I realized how rude I had been, and even though I’m sure I’m still rude he keeps coming back and I don’t know why.”
“Oh, I think I know why.” She winked.
“Dahlia, non! It’s not like that at all.” As Rose moved to hang up a few blouses on another rack, they paused their conversation while Faline was within earshot. “I can’t talk about it here. The shop should slow down soon, and then maybe we can go upstairs and talk more.”
That satisfied Dahlia’s curiosity enough to drop the subject for the next half hour until Mystie and Faline released Rose from work and the two girls headed upstairs. As soon as Rose had closed her bedroom door, Dahlia resumed her interrogation. As Rose tried to explain her confusing and strange friendship with Phillippe, she noticed Dahlia biting her nails and redirecting the conversation away from herself. “Is something going on, Dahlia? You’re acting nervous, like you need a distraction from something. Did something happen back home?”
She sighed and looked out the window. “Aujord’hui is the first Toussaint I haven’t been able to visit ma mère. It hasn’t been easy. Florian promised he would go for me, but it isn’t the same. It’s like with ma belle-mère. Elle est merveilleux, but she isn’t ma mère.”
“You didn’t mention you had une belle-mère. I just assumed you didn’t because of how you described Madeleine.”
“Reina married mon père very soon after ma mère passed away. We had a great relationship at first, but within the last year it started to deteriorate. She’s the reason I came to Domfront, and she’s the reason I can’t go visit ma mère aujord’hui. I’m not angry with her about anything. Mostly I’m just confused.”
“You want to know confusing? Last time ma famille came to visit, I overheard ma mère et mes tantes discussing money and if they needed more of it to provide for me. Ma famille is so poor that I’ve been working in the shop since I was old enough to work le guichet. The money I make gets sent back to mes parents to help them out. How would they afford to give me more money? It doesn’t make any sense at all. I will say this though, it is incredibly hard to be so far away from family and it definitely doesn’t help to solve conflicts. But as Phillippe taught me, it can sometimes be better to get away from it and clear your mind. I think for now we should change subjects to keep your mind off that problem.”
Dahlia smiled gratefully as Rose changed the subject to talk about clothes and other girly things that neither girl had ever had anyone to talk with before. It felt good for both to be distracted from their problems. After a little while, Dahlia got up the courage to ask Rose about the gold chain around her neck.
Rose pulled the chain from its usual place tucked into her shirt. “It’s a ring from mes parents. They gave it to me on my first birthday. I like to wear it because it keeps them close.”
“I wish I had something like that from mes parents. Mon père has never been sentimental. As soon as ma mère had passed away, all of her things had been cleaned out by the next day.”
Rose tucked away her ring. “We were supposed to take your mind away from those things.”
“Ho, do you want to come over to my apartment for a bit? I’m still unpacking. Maybe you could help.”
“Bien sûr! Allons-y!” After grabbing her scarf and purse, they left with Mystie’s permission. After walking in silence to enjoy the sunset, they arrived at La Mine.
“Florian!” Dahlia was swept up in a tight embrace as soon as they entered the shop.
Rose stood by awkwardly watching the two together, waiting until she was noticed again.
“Oh! This is Rose. She’s been helping me adjust to the change. Do you mind if she stays with us for a little bit tonight? I had no idea you were coming!”
“I thought I’d surprise you. When I got here, Joye informed me you were out with a friend. I told you that you would be fine here.” He kept one arm firmly around Dahlia while reaching out to meet Rose. “Merci for helping Dahlia feel welcome. This change has been hard for her, and it is so great to see a smile on her face again.”
Dahlia knew how uncomfortable Rose could be with strangers, so she decided to change the subject. “She was going to help me finish unpacking. Let’s head upstairs.”
Rose was definitely uncomfortable and nervous at first, but Dahlia’s energy was hard to resist, especially with Florian there. She tagged along with the two close friends and eventually found that she did enjoy Florian’s company almost as much as she enjoyed Dahlia’s or Phillippe’s.