Little Gale Gumbo

Free Little Gale Gumbo by Erika Marks

Book: Little Gale Gumbo by Erika Marks Read Free Book Online
Authors: Erika Marks
destination, since it was Dahlia’s idea in the first place. So it was Josie who spun the sphere of their destiny, afraid at first, then filled with a strange and thrilling abandon, sending the globe whirling so fast it nearly toppled over.
    They agreed that no matter the spot, unless it was water, they’d find a way to get there, that there could be no do-overs, no second chances.
    When the globe finally began to slow its crazy twist, and Dahlia decided she had kept them all in suspense long enough, she planted her finger on it, forcing it still.
    They circled close to see what lay beneath.
    Josie squinted. “Is that . . . Canada?”
    â€œIt says Quebec,” announced Dahlia proudly, as if she had meant to choose it. “It’s French.”
    â€œFrench,” marveled Camille softly.
    â€œWill there be Creoles there?” asked Josie, tugging her thick red braid over her shoulder and twisting the knotted end. “Like you, Momma?”
    Camille felt certain of her answer. “I don’t see why not.”
    They returned to the courtyard to deliver the glorious news to Lionel and Roman, relieved and eager, imagining a place that would be just like home.
    Â 
    They would be quite disappointed. At least at first.
    The farther north they went, the less color they saw, in both the people and the landscape. Stark white churches and modest homes, sprawling textile mills and open fields spotted with lumbering cows. Worst of all, the air grew increasingly chilled. Soon their breath bloomed in front of them when they stopped off at rest areas, their nostrils glued shut with every inhale.
    Sitting in the bus station in Portland, Maine, waiting for the next leg of their journey, Camille wondered if Canada would be different. How could they hope to find anything as welcoming as the tropical richness of their home when the farther north they traveled, the chillier it grew? Already there was snow on the ground outside the station, pocked brown clumps of it.
    They had dressed poorly, Camille realized, looking around at the other waiting passengers in their bulky layers. They may have looked cumbersome and clumsy, but they were warm. Much warmer than she and the girls in their thin jackets and thinner stockings.
    They would have to amend their grand contract.
    Camille gathered the girls together over hamburgers at the diner across the street and made an announcement.
    â€œI think we should stay here,” she said. “If we go much farther, I don’t know if we’ll survive till spring. There could be this sort of weather year-round in Quebec, for all we know.”
    The girls looked at each other, biting at their chapped lips.
    â€œWhere’s here?” asked Josie.
    â€œPortland,” said Dahlia. “Maine.”
    â€œNot Canada?”
    â€œNot quite.”
    Back in the bus station, Camille found a display of brochures highlighting area attractions and picked up one for Little Gale Island. She brought it back to where the girls sat in the waiting area and presented it.
    â€œIt’s not far,” she said. “A ferry ride across the bay. We could just try it. See if we like it.”
    â€œLet’s,” said Dahlia, rising to her feet and pulling her sister up with her.
    Josie just nodded, her attention diverted suddenly by a pair of whispering old women who were gesturing to Camille’s ankle-length painted velvet coat and her purple beret: Josie’s first real proof that their assimilation might be tricky, no matter where they ended up.
    Â 
    Josie and Dahlia had taken the ferry plenty of times across the river to Algiers, but this ride was different. For one thing, it was cold. Freezing. The wind off the water cut through their cotton and scraped at their skin. Their toes prickled, nearly numb in their sneakers, their bare fingers pulled up inside their cuffs. If their mother felt the cold, she wasn’t showing it. Camille stood calmly beside them, chin

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