(Write a piece – fiction or creative non-fiction – based on your reaction to either of these photos. Or both. Word limit is…600)
I strolled along the streets of New Orleans taking in its splendor and history. Walking in Jackson Square among the quadroons and octoroons assured that I was safe among my people as we headed past St. Louis Cathedral in the Quarters. Ladies in their finest dresses and men in their best suits greeting each other with a familiar knod as they pass each other while acknowledging their heritage in this small but exclusive society.
Tonight is my debut at Bal de Cordon Bleu. The most elite French Men have arrived at Madame John’s Grand Ball Room to welcome the newest debutante’s and to court us until we select a mate. My Mother said that I was born for this. L’amoure was how I was created and l’amoure will be my quest tonight. Being born to a free woman of color and an illegitimate daughter of a Frenchman has made me a valuable commodity to any man! My porcelain skin, regal nose, long sun streaked hair and pale grey eyes turned many heads in the quarters. I was groomed under my Mother’s adoring eye, and provided the best education with private French tutors at my Father’s expense. I was swathed in satin, silk and fine damask preparing me to become the mistress of a Quadroon, who would cherish me and lavish his love upon me with large quantities of jewels, a home and money in the bank as a part of his legacy.
I entered the Grand Ballroom, as they called my name, Mademoiselle Evangeline Thibeaux. The men quickly gathered at the bottom of the staircase before I descended. Tall, well-built men. Short, skinny men. Refined young Creole men, educated in France with thick French accents coming to select their lovers, the woman that they will start their first families with, the woman he will hunger for when he is older and laying in his marital bed with his wife and the woman he will love until his death. I smiled at each of the men as I stared them in their greedy eyes, knowing that they desired my purity and lusted for my body. Then I saw him and my heart fluttered. His awkward glance drew me in. He was tall and muscular and skin as delicate and pale as alabaster, an obvious product of selective breeding. He exuded confidence and a proper upbringing, which oozed from his pores along with his fine french cologne.
I knodded my head and said, “Misseau,” as I made my bow.
“Mademoiselle Thibeaux, you look lovely this evening. I am Misseau Luc Broussard.”
“Very please to meet you Misseau Broussard!” I said as I placed my hand in his and he pulled me close.
The noise in the room disappeared as we began to speak. My Mother came over to interview him and to find out about his people. Other men approached me, but I knew that he was the one. The house girl brought out oysters and champagne for Mother, Luc, and me and we said a toast to celebrate our arrangement. Glasses began to clink around the room and well wishers came over to congratulate us. He stood up and pulled me into his arms, planted a passionate kiss and announced, “She said yes!” He pulled out his pocket knife, pricked his finger drawing blood, then he pricked my finger as my Mother joined our bleeding fingers together binding the two of us as one.
L’amoure Luc and Evangeline!