Not Sister Josette or Sister Christiane. They were the staid boring middle-aged ones, together with Henriette, who was not exactly normal but could definitely not fly. It would have taken a tonne of rocket fuel to get her off the ground. Not wanting to be rude, because she was always my favourite, the cuddly one, but she was quite big.
Vi and Elise. When you're very young you don't question much. Not too many things about your family bother you, as long as you are well fed and looked after and loved, which I was. It never bothered me that Vi and Elise could fly. My first memory of it is a summer evening in the rose garden behind La Maison Rouge. That garden smelt amazing in midsummer; I can still taste that fragrance now.
'Come one, it's time to fly,' Vi said to me. She had long red hair, silvery green eyes, a biggish nose and top front teeth that crossed over each other a bit. I thought she was utterly beautiful, like a fairy princess in one of my books.
She took my hand and of course I trusted her. Up we went, sailing into the evening sky, the air all soft and still at first, with little wisps of red cloud over the faraway hills where the sun had just gone down. As we got higher, a wind struck up and soon my ears were almost being torn off, but I didn't care because it was so exciting, being up so high...
I don't remember coming down, though we must have done, in time for Henriette to tuck me in and read my bedtime story.
She said to me: 'Don't be afraid of Elise and Vi.'
I could tell she was afraid of them herself, by the shake in her voice. This surprised me but I couldn't find the right words to ask her why.
'They won't do you any harm,' Henriette went on. 'We don't know how long they'll stay with us, but while they're here we must treat them like angels.'
'All right,' I said, feeling sad that Vi and Elise might one day go away.
Henriette kissed my forehead, said: 'Goodnight, sweet dreams, my little one,' and vanished with a little pop and a faint puff of smoke. She always did that. Like everything else, I was used to it.
Life was pretty good in the Red House, till Claudine arrived. It was Claudine who made me start to feel afraid...
Next post coming soon!
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