Lady Creole

I never drink on a Sunday, the Lord’s day, but for some inexplicable reason, today I take a swig from the amber bottle as soon as I leave the bed. Maybe it’s the passing of time, or the cracking bones, but today I feel the wig so heavy in my head, the makeup and fake lashes so corrosive, burning. Yet, even with all my hurts, I manage to brave the bright sunlight and blistering heat of the Crescent City. Pierced by the Mississippi, the town welcomes me like an old friend —familiar sights of city boys and girls wearing their Sunday’s best and the smell of beignets from the shops. I can see the young and old looking at me —the same funny look every day: pity, disgust, but with my head held high I make my way into St. Louis. Even in the good Lord’s house I can see them staring. They watch as I kiss His merciful feet and sit in the benches on my Sunday pink dress and pillbox hat.  They watch as I onto my bony knees and pray for forgiveness. But I wear my faith like a shawl, protective and strong against any evil eye —but not all are unkind. Some nod politely as I walk past their benches, and others even whisper a “Good morning Miss Dauphine” as I walk to the front of the church.
My bench rests in the middle of the parish, right under His glorious gaze as he hangs in the cross. At this hour of the day, if the summer sun shines right, the stained windows will colour his face into a million different tones, majestic and glowing. I can see the whole altar from this place, burning white with the priest in the center. Our light of holy guidance.
At night everything changes, everything becomes like burning incense, hazy, nauseating, suffocating. The bars, the clubs in Bourbon street, the dancing and drinking. I was made for this life but I don’t want it, I don’t remember who I was before today. I burned through it all, as I see the end so near, staring at me right in the face. But I know, next week it will all be the same, over and over again until the last fire inside these wrinkled, painted eyes, dies. I stare at myself one night in the mirror, and don’t recognize whatever it is that is staring back at me.

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