Compelled by a nightmare that would not fade, you had returned to make certain that I was all right, joyously happy, living my dream. You had no doubt that that was what you would find, and when you left this time it would truly be forever.
Adieu, not au revoir.
And now? Nothing had changed except the venue in which you would see me again. And, you thought, it was a venue that virtually assured my happiness. The image of me as mistress of the mansion had always been a little out of focus. Your mind’s eye saw saw my delicate hands dancing in air as I led my student’s in a song.You had to stop the image. It was too clear, too painful, a glaringly bright reminder of the life of love that you and I had planned. The image receded, but the void was quickly filled with more aching remembrance–to which, finally, you surrendered.
It was necessary, you realized. You must remember everything. must permit the smoldering of every memory to flame brightly one last time.
It was late January, when you and your father decided to moved two weeks before, two weeks–for you–of sheer torment. The town was far too close to the bayou. Even from your small house, two miles away. You could feel it beckoning to you, evoking emotions that were so anguished…and so sweet.
Come to me,the bayou whispered, its enticing message carried by a steamy breeze that was fragrant with intoxicating scents and alive with a symphony of sounds. You could hear the cicadas hum, and the birds trill, and you even from the distance you believed that you could hear the rhythmic splashing as the pirogues glided by. Come to me, Come.
For two weeks, you had resisted the sultry call, the aching enchantment. Instead, you prowled the sizzling-hot sidewalks of your new home, glowering your contemptuous reply to the disapproving stares that greeted you.
This boy was going to be a trouble, the townspeople agreed. This boy, this angry stranger with the long black hair and hostile gray eyes and the body that, despite its youth, roamed the scorching pavement without buoyancy. You stood tall, arrogant and proud. But an immense heaviness seemed to ride upon your young shoulders, a formidable burden against which you must struggle always.
You had turned twenty one at the end of January. But those who watched you prowl concluded that you were twenty five at least, perhaps older, and you were undoubtedly experienced in things unknown. It was a decade still reeling from the aftershocks of that one that had come before, that era of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.
As you walked by the Central Cafe, the town’s coffee shop and unofficial meeting place, they saw the truth of your gait: graceful yet predatory, a panther in search of his prey. You were going to sell drugs to their sons, and corrupt in unspeakable ways the virtue of their daughters.
On that day, as they watched you restless weighted gait carry you toward the bayou, the good townspeople shared unspoken thought. Perhaps you would venture too far into the brooding forest that lined its banks, lost in that enchantment. Lost forever. It could happen. Even to a panther.