Read Echoes in the Bayou Online

Authors: Ursula Dukes

Echoes in the Bayou (2 page)

Almost
always their dreamt up talk was interrupted by the sound of the rooster
crowing, signaling the start of a new day. A new day where they would be forced
to go about their daily duties and act as if neither one knew the other
existed.  At the end of his quick but warm embrace, Will would always look
out at the blooming gardenias and whisper softly in her ear. "You’re my
love, and my love for you will cease to exist, when those beautiful gardenias start
blooming in the harshest of winter."

It always
made her heart flutter when he would whisper that.

"I
knows you hear me Celeste. And I knows that you forgives me."

Leon
kept his eyes on her as she sunk down into the muddy, swampy abyss. He shed not
a
tear, for he knew that even though her body
may have left the house, her soul did not, nor would it ever. Not until she
avenged her death and was reunited with Will. Leon marked a large oak tree that
was nearby; he marked it just in case anyone was to inquire as to where he had
discarded the body. He pulled out a small knife and carved out an arrow
pointing in the direction of where he laid the body along with her initials
into the old tree,
C. M.

Now
during this time, som
e of the slave women
practiced voodoo and for those who did not, Sinta was the one they went to. She
was no ordinary clergy person; she was a field slave by day, voodoo priestess
by night, and who when called upon served all of the slaves at Montieu
Plantation. When Zelia came to her months after she’d been raped, she asked
Sinta to give her a potion that would kill the unwanted child inside of her,
but Sinta had refused to do it. Instead, she comforted her and after performing
a cleansing ritual, told Zelia that she would give birth and that the child
would be of the most loving and trusting nature. She would also possess a gift,
Sinta told her. She informed her that the child would possess a great keenness
for clairvoyance and that the strong intuition would be carried on throughout
each and every one of the child’s many lives.

Most all
of the slaves believed that they had lived more than one life, and that living
the life of a slave meant that in a future existence, one was surely going to
live the life of a king or queen. Some nights they would gather by the fire and
sing Negro spirituals in which that life became reality, even if only for a
short time.

After
listening to what the priestess told her, Zelia decided to keep the baby. She
knew t
hat when the priestess would start to
tremble and chant, that words of wisdom and truth were about to be
spoken.  If one was ailing, Sinta would help heal them. If one was
love sick, Sinta would bring them peace and joy. And if one was murdered, Sinta
would make sure that the life that was so violently taken was avenged, if not
in this life, the next.

One night
under cover of darkness, Sinta met with Celeste. She was a stunning, handsome
woman with eyes as black as coal and skin as dark as the night. She wore a stained
white turban on her head and a tan dress made out of what the mistress called,
"negro cloth." Still, the shabby clothes could not hide her
beauty.  Although Celeste was chosen to work as a house slave, Sinta held
no animosity towards the young girl. She treated Celeste like she would anyone
else who had come to her for help, like a member of the family.

Ever
since the
Montieu’s house guest John DuPonte had
begun making sexual advances towards her, Celeste began to get the feeling that
her life was in danger. She didn’t dare tell Will, she couldn’t risk him
confronting the man and ruining what the two of them shared.  Plus, she
was sure had she told him, Amelia would have forced her out of the house and
into the fields. Almost all of the mistresses turned a blind eye when it came
to their house slaves being raped and beaten. And they certainly had no
problems shunning them from the house if a slave spoke up about it.

U
pon hearing this, Sinta told the young woman that she
could put a protection spell over her, but that it would be weakened if the
evildoers soul was rotten to the core. She also told her that she could conjure
up a spell that would certainly avenge her death should her life be taken away
from her. "And make sure that whoever done it, suffer a fate far worse
than mines Sinta," Celeste said with pure hatred in her heart.

She had
learned to read and write fro
m years of
listening and paying close attention to the teachings her mistress had taught
her own children. Back when her mother was alive, she told her to never let on
that she was able to read and write because that meant a whipping, or worse,
death. So she kept quiet and went about her daily routine making sure she took
extra care with her chores when mistress was in the same room teaching the
children. On the nights that she wasn’t with Will Jr., she would go out into
the slave quarters and teach the other slaves what she had already learned
years before.

It was
the middle of the night and Sinta woke up in a cold sweat.  A piece of her
felt like it had been ripped away and she knew that the piece was
Celeste.  She got up and using the tip of her walking stick, lifted up a
section of rotted floor board and pulled out an old piece of cloth tied with
twine. Inside the cloth was a lock of hair and a small piece of blood soaked
cloth that had long since dried. Both had been given to her by Celeste many
weeks before her death.

Sint
a lit seven black candles and using some of the melted
wax, slowly drew a circle around herself.  Even though the night was thick
with heat, a cold wind blew through the small shanty and ceased just as quickly
as it had come.  With the candles still lit, Sinta gathered up Celeste’s
personal items and burned them in the fire. Her body began to quake, and as she
spoke in tongues; she rolled the small pieces of animal bones around in her
hands and slowly and melodically began to invoke the spell.  

J
ust as the body of Celeste began to disappear into the
swampy earth, Sinta‘s body went into complete spasms, the curse had been cast.
Whomever had caused the death of Celeste would forever be condemned to a life
of longevity but it would be full of misery, and extreme poverty. Everything
around the plantation would shrivel up and die.  Their children, and
children’s children would grow up to never know what it felt like to love. The
word and the feeling would forever be absent from their lives. A curse was
placed upon the big house as well, nothing but selfishness and abhorrence shall
come out of any womb that occupies the big house. The curse would be bound to
all the generations, it could only be undone if and when someone came along,
who sincerely understood exactly what needed to be done in order to set Celeste
free.

By
morning, Sinta knew that Cele
ste was gone.

 

Chapter Two

Savannah
Georgia, June 2012

 

"Ava
please wait!" Gavin urged.

Ava
fumbled for her car keys. "What Gavin? Are you going to stand there and
tell me that it’s not what it looks like? That I didn’t just catch you and my
best friend about to screw on top of your desk?" She shouted.

Gavin
shook his head. "No. I was simply going to tell you that it’s over between
me and you and that I think you should relocate," he said. And without so
much as an ounce of remorse, continued. "Look Ava, things between us have
been going downhill for a long time now chère, you know this."

She
turned to him in disbelief. "Really Gavin? Because that’s news to me. I
mean
yeah, we've had our share of problems, but
I didn’t think things were
that
bad. I just moved in with you, you son of a
bitch!" She barked, and slapped him hard across the face. He was her boss,
but at that moment she didn’t care.
This is what I get for jumping into things
, she scolded herself.
And with my boss none the less
.

"Yeah
Ava about that, Melanie and I are goin
g to need
you to move out too."

Ava stood
stunned as her best friend Melanie leaned against the doorway of Gavin’s office
and casually began buttoning up her blouse. 

This can’t be happening
, she thought to herself

I know that this couldn’t
possibly be happening to me right now.
The realty office seemed to be getting smaller and smaller by the minute. She
was glad that there weren’t any clients around, she wasn’t sure how much longer
she’d be able to hold it together.

"Gavin,
you asked me to move in with you remember?" She reminded him sternly.
"And now you want me to move out so you can play house with her?" She
immediately began contemplating whether or not she should try and get her old
place back. She'd moved a little over a month ago, but she hoped that her old
place was still vacant and that her landlord would allow her to move back in. A
shroud of disgust came over her face when she looked at her so-called best
friend.

Ava and
Melanie had been best friends for five years now. It was shortly after she was
hired as a staging designer for the realtor office that she had become fast
friends with Melanie. It was because of her that Melanie was able to close on
her very first house sale; Ava remembered it like it was yesterday. She had
just started working for Gavin when Melanie came into the office hootin’ and
hollerin’ about this couple she’d just finished showing a refurbished house to
in the not so fancy part of town.

She
informed them that it needed some cosmetic work, but they insisted on seeing it
immediately. Although they liked the overall structure of the house, they
weren’t sure if they could see themselves living in it and raising a family.
Melanie had shown them several houses before this particular one and they’d all
but shot down every single one.  She had shown them forty seven houses so
far and now the young couple, along with Melanie where at their wits end.

That’s
when Ava suggested that maybe she could be of some assistance. She practically
volunteered herself to stage the home and make it look welcoming and inviting
to the young couple.  It was after all what she was hired for, and what
better way she told Melanie to put her talent to work. 

"You
were hired for staging the larger more exquisite homes Ava, not a three bedroom
that’s in the seedy p
art of town," Melanie
told her.

"Who
cares how big or small," Gavin interjected.  "That house has
been on the market for far too long Melanie, and the area may not be rich but
its full of hard working folks, just get it sold already will you? If Ava is
offering to help you, then I suggest you gladly accept."

And with
that, Melanie had herself a beautifully staged home and Ava had a boss that was
extremely pleased with her. When Melanie had convinced the young couple to take
another look at the house, they fell in love with it. 

After
spending a few moments talking with the young clients, Ava was able to put her
keen sense of intuition to use and had managed to stage the home exactly the
way the young couple would have imagined it. Within the hour of seeing the home
again, they had made an offer well above the asking price. They wanted the
furnishings and everything else that Ava had used to stage the house, and once
the offer was made, they were homeowners by the end of the night.

"You
are amazing," Melanie raised her glass to Ava. Gavin had taken the both of
them out to celebrate the sale of the house. "Yes she is," Gavin gave
Ava a sultry look.

"I
didn’t think I’d ever get that house sold," Melanie frowned. "But
thanks to you Ava, it sold and well above the asking price so kudos to you my
new best friend."

And just
like that, the two had become the very best of friends, or so Ava thought. Now
here she was watching her job, boyfriend, and best friend slip away.
What the hell did I do to deserve this
?
She questioned herself.

As if she
could read her thoughts Melanie said, "Come on Ava you and your wonderful
intuition? Surely you must have seen this coming."

Ava shot
her a ruinous look. "No Mel, I didn’t. I guess I never expected my best
friend to betray me.  You know it'll all be in vain," she scowled.
"How long do you think this will last?" She questioned the two of
them.

"Look, ladies,
what's the use huh? Ava, it’s been great but it’s over now. But I want you to
know that Mel and I have come up with the perfect solution. You have to move
out right? Right.  So… and this is purely out of coincidence and you
yourself always said that there are no coincidences, that everything happens
for a reason," he said reminding her. 

"Well
anyway, it just so happens that when Melanie and I were trying to figure out
what to do with you, a client called and said that he needs someone special to
handle the sale of his house. Now before you object, I know that you don’t have
your realtor license, but that’s okay because all this client wants is for
someone to come in and stage his house to sell. You do that, and I’ll take care
of the rest."

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