Balloon Man

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Chapter 8

1993

“Get out of this house with your little devil brat, you whore!” screamed Ada. “I want you to stay away from my house! To think I took you in and then you repay me by having a baby from god knows who, and try to use our money to feed you and that screaming, obnoxious brat! Go sleep in the street because that is all you are worth!”

Giselle grabbed a bag and hurried down the driveway with the baby. Once out of the gate, she searched for a place to rest. Holding back her tears, she could not understand why Ada wanted her out. Foret was the problem. He was always touching her when he thought Ada was not looking.

“Goût effrayant,” Giselle whispered while running. “You’re a creepy sneak, Foret!”

Her arms and legs grew tired and the baby fussed on her hip. She slowed her pace down to a brisk walk. Though angry, Giselle kept her voice calm and soothing as she cooed to her child.

“I kept everything spotless while Miss Prima Donna sat watching TV shows all day. I did most of the housework for what? And her husband is nothing but a filthy dog! He doesn’t even know how bad his house will look now, and that crazy Ada, thinking I would try to take that disgusting man she calls a husband away from her. What a stupid woman she is.”

Giselle tried to push the memory out of her head by turning her thoughts to finding shelter. “Don’t you worry my little bird,” she said while cuddling the baby. “We will find something, little bird,” she repeated. “I will call you Alouette.”

Giselle sang softly to her baby, going from French to English and back again as if one language. Then she stopped and remembered where they were and sighed. “My little Alouette, I need to find work, and a place to sleep. I will talk to that goût effrayant one more time.”

She walked to Foret LeBlanc’s laundry business and pleaded with him to let her clean the shop in return for a small amount of money and a place to sleep.

“I need you to just let me make enough money for a room and food. I won’t ever bother you,” she promised.

Foret agreed, but under the condition that if he needed company, he could call on her. “You stay with the child in the back room of my shop,” he said while licking his lips with a little quivering motion of his tongue. “And when I need to I will come back to the room to see you.”

“Oh, please no!” Giselle begged, tears streaming down her face. “Please, not that. Can’t I just cook, shop or anything but that?”

Foret simply stood there with a blank expression and she knew this is how it had to be.

She could never go back to his house again for fear of being beaten by his wife. Now, Giselle had a room to stay in, but she had to take care of Foret’s needs occasionally. The thought disgusted her, but for the sake of Alouette she had no choice.

Giselle got used to Foret’s visits and sometimes imagined they shared a true relationship. The fantasy changed when he’d run home, fearing Ada might discover Giselle living in the back of the shop.

It soon became evident to Giselle that Foret sought the overbearing personality of Ada and he took comfort in being controlled. He was a little wisp of a man who needed a strong, forceful woman like Ada to complete him.

Sometimes Foret would lay in Giselle’s bed crying about Ada, her cruelty, and questioning his feelings for his wife. During those times, while he was vulnerable, Giselle would try to tell Foret that Alouette was his indeed his child.

Foret would jump up to leave, saying, “You better stop making things up! What do want? Do you want Ada to kill me? Then you wouldn’t have any place to live! Ada was right, you are nothing but trouble.”

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