Wishes Are Like ...
The week passes blissfully. Each day a family member, or friends of Mimi’s comes to visit. Every night is a party, so much joy, so many happy memories. Benard is buried in the family cemetery. Every morning Mimi goes and sits with him. Sometimes a family member comes too, and they reminisce about Benard’s joie de vivre.
“Remember when Monsieur Duc would not pay his wine bill because he said the wine was bad? So Benard filled the bottle of Chateau Montue with that old vinegar you kept to clean the windows with.” Pierri.
“Monsieur Duc, took one big gulp …” Mimi clutches her gut in laughter, “and his face turned blood red. He was blindly reaching for a glass of water, sputtering the whole time. How could Benard serve him such wine?”
They both were rubbing their eyes, watering with laughter. After a while they quieted down.
“Monsieur Duc, never paid his bill, nor came back to the brasserie.” Perrier slaps his knee.
“Benard did not care. The man was a worm! He was just looking for a way to not pay his bill. What did Benard say to him?”
“If you think Chateau Montue tastes like vinegar, then maybe you will like vinegar instead!” and they started laughing again.
"You know what I miss? Every summer you would pickle cherries. Then Benard would grill chicken breasts on an outdoor grill he had set up behind the brasserie. I still dream about it."
"Yes, I remember. I would marinate the chicken in the brine from the pickled cherries and he grilled them. I serve the chicken with the cherries and a slice of fresh cherve, I made from goat milk. It is cherries season. We can make some tomorrow." Mimi just grabs Perrier’s hand and they sit a while.
One day everyone heads to the local farmer's market. Pierre has arranged for Devlin to meet Marc, he is the most well-know cheese makers in the area.
“Are you coming, dear?” Devlin grabs his straw boater.
Wren stretches languidly across the bed “No, I feel spent from all this socializing. I think I'll stay here. Do you mind? I can come if you want me to?”
“No, no,” and he gives her that broad smile that melts her. “You rest and enjoy the quiet.”
This is a quality in her that has not changed, even in marriage. The three years since Devlin has come home from the Great War, he and Wren have developed a rhythm. She gets up early with in the morning with Devlin, and while he checks on the dairy, she goes for a walk, even in the snow. They have breakfast together and afterwards Wren spends her mornings working around the house. On Fridays, Lily, the daughter of Bay Farm’s caretaker, spends the day with Wren. Wren had been homeschooling Lily, but now Mary, Lily’s mother, is finally comfortable schooling Lily herself. It helps that Lily is now ten and able to own her education more.
Lily, Devlin and Wren usually have lunch together. Then Wren spends her afternoon doing handwork for the business she and Mary started, Métier Adornments, which, by the way, is doing quite well. Boston’s socialites cannot get enough of Métier’s beautiful hand designed items. Wool scarves knit by Mary are encrusted with old lace and beading by Wren. These seem to be their best sellers so far. Much of Wren’s time though is spent alone, thinking and creating, and this suits her.
Wren stands at the balcony taking in the view of the vineyards. Row after row of green leaves glow under the bright sun. France seems to have a way of making everything glow from the inside out. She decides to take a long walk across the vineyards and up the hillside behind the maison. Resting under the trees, Wren surveys the land, enjoying her solitude. The terrain in Provence is much different from Bay Farm’s 200 acres in Massachusetts; Provence much more intense. The heat seems to pierce right through you and the colors are more vivid, even though the landscape is more barren than Massachusetts. Yet, at the same time, there is such a comfort to the landscape, like an old, worn sweater that fits you just right. One can feel the land wrap itself around you. In this way Provence reminds her of Bay Farm. Wren tries to turn off her brain and just absorb the space. With her eyes closed, she listens to the buzzing of the bees, smells the potent herbs and enjoys the breeze pushing through the trees. Suddenly a bee buzzes past her ear and wakes her. She stands and stretches before heading down to the villa for a glass of water.
Wren smiles as she walks through the open gates of their cottage. New flower petals have been strewn upon the floor and a fresh bowl of fruit sits on the table. Aida steps out of the bedroom with a bouquet of flowers. Wren startles her. “Sorry, Signora. I mean Wren. I straightening up. I leave now.”
“Oh no, please stay. I have been out walking; the winery is so beautiful. I am afraid I fell asleep and now I am trying to wake up. Would you like to have a glass of water with me?”
Aida sits down and looks at the ground, but she speaks to Wren. “It is sad what you tell me about your husband and his parents. I am sorry. It is hard to lose someone you love.”
“Yes it is. I lost both my parents when I was nine. So I understood Devlin’s pain. One more thing to bond us.”
Aida looks up at Wren. “You lost both parents? Such a young age. You know my pain.”
“Did you lose someone?”
“Yes, my Romey. He died month ago.”
“I am sorry Aida.” Wren puts her hand on Aida's shoulder.
“He died because he kill himself. I love him. Why was my love not..." She struggles to find the right word."Enough?”
Wren is stunned by this omission.
Aida cries a while, then calms herself down.“Romey served in Great War, like your Devlin. I not know him then. Year ago he come to our family ristorante. I bake and waited tables. He charming, so full of life or so I think. At first he happy. He give me flowers, smiles, but he got sadder and angry. I try to love him, but more I love, the angrier Romey get. I not understand. His love made me happy. Why my love not make him happy?” and she starts sobbing again.
“I am sure Romey knew you loved him. Maybe the demons he carried from the war were just too much for him.”
“You not understand, Wren. I did blasphemous thing. I know is wrong, but I think I help Romey. I think it make him happy.” Shamefully, Aida hangs her head. “I give myself to Romey and now I with bambino, but no man! God mad at me! My family blame me for Romey killing himself. They say I bring shame on family and kick me out. I have no one. What will I do?”
Wren just holds her. When Aida’s sobs slow down, Wren questions her. “Does anyone know about the baby?”
“Oh no. My family no forgive me about Romey. Pierre and Camille be kind to me. They hate me if they knew. You think me terrible girl?”
“No, Aida. You were just thinking with your heart. Could you talk to your family about the baby?”
“I try talk my parents, but they like Romey. His papa have money and my parents ... how you say? Anxious? Romey marry me. Romey's papa mean man and he not like me. I not think he help me with baby.”
“I am so sorry you had no one to guide you through this. Your mother should be here to help you to explain things and your father to protect you.” Wren gently looks Aida square in the eye. “I do not judge you, Aida. I have not walked in your shoes. It sounds like you just wanted to be loved. We all want to be loved, but you gave your heart before you knew who you were giving it to.”
“But I sin!”
“We all have sinned, but beating yourself up will not help. I see you have a heart of contrition. You need to move forward and learn to trust those around you. I do not think Pierre and Camille will hate you. They care for you and want to help you. I know my Mimi very well. She will speak not one word of judgment against you. Please trust them Aida. Share with them, let them, let me, help you.”
“I scared. I feel shame. I want to hide.”
“I know I am asking you to take a risk, but will you trust me? Will you share with Pierre and Camille? Let them show you not everyone is like your family or Romey's father. Hiding never makes things better. It only causes a bitterness to grow in our heart and keeps those who love us away from us.”
“I will try. Thank you, you no mad at me. Let me cook for you, come.” Aida puts out her hand and Wren squeezes it.
Sitting at the big wood table in the stone kitchen, Aida sets out a plate of pink radishes. with butter and bread. She makes Wren a quick potato frittata with a garlic aioli drizzled on top.
“Delicious. I make frittata at home with our Bay Farm fresh cheese a lot. Devlin and I are leaving in two days. We are going on a three week tour of France, but we will be back to escort Mimi home to Boston. Please promise me you will share with Pierre, Camille and Mimi about the baby. Let others help you.”
Everyone stands in a circle hugging good-bye.
Pierre hands Devlin a list. “I have contacted everyone and they are expecting you. I am glad you allowed me to make some changes in your travel plans. I think you and Wren will enjoy seeing France MY way,” and he winks, twisting his mustache. “My friends will take good care of you, show you the sights, feed you well and give you good vin! What more could you ask for.”
Devlin shakes his hand. “Thank you, I am sure we will enjoy ourselves. We will be back in three weeks for Mimi.”
As everyone is hugs good-bye, Wren notices Aida has such a large smile. She whispers in Aida’s ear. “Good news?”
“I tell Pierre and Camille. They are both kind to me. They no yell, or tell me I bad girl. They tell me what you tell me. They say I trust them and they help me. Camille say you right. My madre, mama and papa, should help me. Pierre say Romey want to love me, but not to feel my love. He say I too young to understand. He speak to me how men love different than women. This help me. I start to see I give away piece of me no help Romey. I am confused and scared but I glad I tell Pierre and Camille. Mimi say she help my English, so I speak better when you come back.”
Wren looks over Aida’s shoulder as she hugs her and Camille gives her a knowing smile.
“I am so happy she is helping you. I will be praying for you while I am gone. There is a plan to your life and this sweet baby in you is now part of it. Take time to think about everything. Share with Mimi. She is a fountain of wisdom and love.”
As the Peugeot drives out the gates Devlin asks in concern. “Is Aida okay?”
Wren smiles. “No, but she will be.” And then she tells him all about Aida.
*Wren’s wish is to show Aida the love and grace she received as a girl from her family.