Unedited excerpt of my memoir – ©2019 Sylvaine Francine
My grandparents, Eugene and Marguerite, moved out of the street of the Pierced Ass Holes to a house fills with light as soon as the sun hits it. A courtyard spreads on the front, and past the two flowerbeds and the seven feet iron gate, the water street pump stands, right there, handy to use. There is running water in the kitchen, but I remember—I fill buckets with icy cold water for my grandmother, painfully carry them, always splashing my legs and wetting my socks and shoes.
Simply furnished, the kitchen, larger, opens to the outside with two full size windows. Adjacent to it, the bedroom—I like that bedroom, light and airy, smelling of beeswax used to polish the wooden furniture. I let myself fall backward on the bed, feeling the big fluffy feather comforter give in around me. In the winter, a mild smell of mold emanates from the walls. With no heat in this room, it is cold and damp. The outhouse is still not my favorite but I am growing up, I don’t care much.
In the winter, my grandmother Meme, and I played board games: “Les petits chevaux, un jeu de Dames.” I always win, she lets me win. Then we make crepes. She always adds sugar in the batter. Because of it, the crepes burn a little bit before being totally cooked. My Meme is not a good cook, but I don’t mind and don’t care how the crepes turn out.
In the spring, Meme, takes me to the shed, at the back of the garden, and places in my arms the young, trembling rabbits. They are not very easy to handle but she trusts me. We feed them the herbs she has chosen along the roads and tells me how to recognize the good ones from the useless, teaching me the essentials of rural living, as I am expected, someday, to marry a rich farmer.
Sometimes, she brings me into their bedroom, wipes her hands on her apron, and with excitement in her eyes, slowly uncovers from under the comforter, the young fuzzy chicks born that day. She keeps them warm for a few hours before returning them to their mother. Snug and quiet under the huge feather comforter that looks like a mountain of fluff, they begin to softly shrill. We sit on the edge of it and marvel together at this year’s new miracle. Gently, she hands me one and I keep it safe in the palms of my hands. I bring it up to my cheeks, relishing the softness of their newly dried fuzz.