Yvette Duvalier strolled peacefully between the narrow rows of small grey houses toward Rue Principale. The brick borders of their frames and doors were as grey as the plaster. The avenue was quiet and empty in the dim early morning light. Roofs were all nestled tenderly under a blanket of fog, as peaceful as Yvette’s mood. She was humming happily to herself and the pleasant lilt of her voice carried on the cool, still air. The sidewalk clay was hard under her feet, thirsty for autumn’s rains after a long summer.
She turned onto Rue Principale and stopped to stare in the window of the hair dresser’s shop on the corner. The owner had just put in one of the large, clear windows becoming more and more popular in store fronts. A display case behind it showed off all the popular fashion on plaster busts. Yvette’s attention was devoted to a styled chignon with ringlets on the back and sides. The proprietor smiled at her, busying himself with the arrangement in preparation for the day’s business. He pointed out with a nod the sale price for the one she was admiring. Monsieur Duvalier serait adorer! she thought as she smiled back with a slight curtsy.
The light from the store cast her reflection upon the glass and she stepped back to take it in. She wore a dark brown dress, with yellow lapel trimming a white, ruffled-lace chemise. Her blonde tresses curled naturally, and they would fit such a hairstyle perfectly. She would be ever so beautiful, but it was the reflection of her pregnant tummy she beamed at with pride.
She was about fourteen weeks and the stretching pot beneath her dress showed clearly when she turned to the side to model it. Her smile broadened as she ran her hands across her tummy, pushing it out further to help her imagine. Her husband, Michel, would be so proud when the baby was born. Soon, she would be feeling him kick; she was sure he was a boy. Michel was not so sure, but sometimes a mother knows.
Still cradling the baby in her womb, she glanced up the street. It was only a few feet to the small black-roofed station where the horse-drawn carriage to Paris would be arriving soon. The benches were empty. She heard the sound of running feet on the stone-paved streets behind her as she started to turn toward the station, where she would sit and wait for the carriage to come.
There was a sharp, sudden pain in her middle, and she looked down in surprise. A flash of something shiny protruded from her stomach and then it was gone. Yvette watched in open-mouthed shock as one of her fingers fell to the stones below. There were more footsteps, running away now. She held her hand up to stare in disbelief at the place where her finger should have been. Blood poured down the front of her dress. She fell to her knees and clutched her stomach.
“Mon bébé!” she shrieked.
The proprietor had seen what happened and came running from the store, shouting after Yvette’s assailant. “Sale bête! Sale bête!” he cried out, racing to Yvette’s aid. “Avec Dieu pour son témoin!”
Yvette knelt trembling with her hands still clutching at the blood that would not stop. “Mon bébé,” she cried softly.
The shopkeeper came to her side and knelt next to her, still yelling angrily back up the avenue. There was nothing else he could do, so he yelled.. His voice faded away in the fog, and Yvette couldn’t hear it anymore.
© 2013 Anne Schilde