Bayou de la Mère

I got the idea for this story during a trip to St. Martinville, Louisiana. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem "Evangeline," about two lovers separated when the Acadians were driven out of Nova Scotia by the British, is supposed to have been inspired by the tale of a young woman who ended up in St. Martinville. She and her Gabriel were reunited beneath an oak on the bank of Bayou Teche, but he had married another and she died of a broken heart. She has become a heroine in this beautiful little town, and there is a statue of her in a small cemetery behind the cathedral. Something struck me as creepy about this statue, and she got mixed up in my mind with a perfectly ordinary statue of the Virgin Mary nearby.

They were staying on the second floor of a 160-year-old hotel that looked out over the bayou.
The place smelled of lemon floor polish and genteelly decaying wood.


Then he was outside the church, out in the night long past even midnight Mass, and it was no longer Sts. Peter and Paul; it was the old church in the bayou town. The weirdly backlit tabernacle rose up behind the window, wavering as if an unseen figure had passed between it and the glass.


People in New Orleans put little statues of her in half-buried bathtubs in their yards, and while her robes might be painted either the traditional blue or a more festive pink, she was always standing.


Her mantle and her shoulders were worn almost smooth, like the soapy-looking lambs that mark children's graves. Jésus recontre sa Mère, the voice whispered, or had he just thought the words? Her eyes were wide, blank, white, fixed upon him as she began to rise, her stone knees crumbling, her lap cracking apart.

Thanks to Caitlin R. Kiernan and Jennifer Caudle for this idea.
Check out the original at Caitlin's Site.