"So why was I so miserable?," she thought to herself as she returned to her
seat. As she watched the dull Midwestern scenery with its still barren trees and
fallow farm fields whiz by, Madeline got out her portable CD player, inserted a demo
disc of her latest recording project, then let the music lull her into a calming
reverie. She thought of the events of the last few days, all profound events which
led to this train ride to parts unknown. Once more, she relived that drizzly, gray
morning at the cemetery, while visiting her mother's grave for the last time. That's
when a handsome stranger appeared out of nowhere, sat down beside her, then began to
counsel Madeline. It was an odd interview, but what he said was so true, and
"Mom, I finally got the house all cleared out, but I still don't know what to
do. Should I put it on the market or keep it? I've given away your clothes and stuff
to charity, just as you instructed. Oh Mom, even though you had, at last, enough
money to buy nice things, you still thought of those who still go without. Just as
we did, so long ago, before I got famous and earned..."
The gray overcast sky, relentless drizzle, and damp February chill matched Madeline's mood: dull and overwhelmingly sorrowful. She adjusted the cheery yellow tulips on her mother's grave – Lavinia Newbury's favorite flowers – while conversing with the dead parent as if in life. So close were mother and daughter, and Madeline, despite her hard-won fame and fortune, felt so alone, so unsure of her future.
"Mom," she said, settling on a nearby stone bench, unheeding of the damp seat and mud under her feet, "I talked to Charlie today. He's in Sedalia visiting his sister Lenore. He wants me to drive down, just for a nice visit. But I'm so swamped with work. I just started a recording project, there's an upcoming concert tour this fall for which I'm no where near ready. I know, I know. I shouldn't feel like this, as you always told me. Look on the bright side, as the old song says, keep on the sunny side. But I can't. Why do I feel so angry, so full of hate? It's no secret that I still hate my father, although he's been dead for almost ten years. Shot to death by the second Mrs. Newbury after she caught him in bed with another woman, at least that's how James reported it. To me, she did us all a favor by killing Robert Newbury. He was no good from the beginning. Beating you, making us move so many times just to keep him away from us. Letting us live in poverty while he wined and dined his many women on the side. I suppose, in the end, he got what he wanted, so did his family. I hate them all, except for James. How he escaped the 'Newbury curse' is beyond me. He is so sweet, so urbane and witty, a total throwback to an age when being a gentleman was everything. I think he was born at least a century too late..."
She began to cry, not tears of sorrow but of hate and anger. In reality, Maddie never really knew her father, she having been barely two by the time Robert Newbury abandoned his family for good, forcing Lavinia to move several times before Maddie reached school age. How much she wanted to make her father's family pay for years of abuse and cruelty. Robert, a well-heeled British entrepreneur, met Lavinia Henard during a business trip to New Orleans. Lavinia, what the old folks called a "quadroon" – she was one-fourth Black – had been forced, due to her racial status and refusal to pass, to work as "hostess" for Miss Delphine who ran, if truth be known, one of the more prominent brothels in the Big Easy, catering to politicians, businessmen, and other big spenders well-endowed with cash and in need of 'feminine company.'
Maddie, through her tears, said, "He met you at Miss Delphine's, and he fell in love with you. Then he persuaded you to come to London with him, to meet his folks. There he took you to all the fashionable, fancy places you couldn't go to back home. Then he proposed, much to his family's disapproval; they found out about your background and what you did for a living. He married you anyway and brought you back to the States, to Baton Rouge where no one knew you. Then the beatings started when he grew tired of you. He would hit you for nothing, even though you were pregnant with me. After you gave birth to me, he didn't even come see you at the hospital. There were other women, and he never gave you a dime to help take care of me. How I hate that man! If it wasn't for him, you wouldn't have had to flee to Sedalia, then to Nashville, then finally here to Bloomington..."
"If your mother hadn't come here, you may not have been the success you are today."
Upon hearing that voice, Madeline wheeled around to see a tall, handsome young
man standing over her. Yes, he was exceedingly handsome. His light blue eyes
registered warmth and compassion; his generous light brown hair skimmed his
shoulders. His clothes were, to Maddie, a curiosity. A long black hooded cloak
thrown over a black leather tunic and brown pants. He looked rather hot, although
Madeline was hardly in a romantic mood.
"I sense your feelings. Forget it," he said with a laugh, "I'm happily married. May I?" He indicated the bench then sat next to Madeline.
They sat together, neither saying a word for a few moments, then the man broke the silence, saying, "I know it hurts, but you'll get over it."
Madeline, still sobbing, replied, "I don't think I can. I know I should get on with life; that's how Mom would want it. I try not to think about how badly my father treated her–"
"You have a lot of fear and anger within," he said, staring ahead, looking at nothing. "Madeline, it not a wise thing to do, to give in to your anger. You're mad at your father, a man you hardly knew. Well, he's long dead, so he's no threat to you."
Then, "You and your mom were close."
"Yes we were. See, I had few friends growing up since we moved so much during my younger days. Even when we moved here permanently, I felt so alone. My mother was the only–"
She stopped herself, turned to the stranger, then asked quite astonishing, "How did you know my name?"
He laughed again, replying, "Come on, Maddie! You're famous. Your face is on CD and magazine covers, you're on television, a high fashion spread in Vogue, the whole media blitz."
The stranger grew serious, adding, "Actually, I don't know much about the music
scene; but I do know you, and I'm here to keep you from sliding into the dark side
like I did."
Now Madeline became intrigued. Here was this man she never before met, and he's talking about saving her from turning to the dark side. She had to ask, "What is this dark side?"
"A place you don't want to go."
He handed her a curious little object; to Maddie's eye it resembled a hand
mirror encircled with rubies and emeralds. The mirror – at least it looked
like a mirror – was not clear and bright but cloudy and swirled with many muted
"I got this from your friend Charlie. You may think you know your mom's best friend, but not of his powers. He never told you, but your mother knew. She wanted to protect you from yourself, so she asked Charlie, and others, to help you."
Maddie didn't understand; she thought she was dreaming. No, here I am, still in the cemetery, in front of Mom's grave, and a strange man is next to me, talking to me, saying Mom wanted to save me from...Me!
And Charlie...What is this guy talking about? Powers? Charlie is some sort of magic man? No, it can't be, but...
"Tante Seraphine," she whispered under her breath.
"You say something?," the stranger asked.
She replied, still gazing at the mirror, "Many years ago, right after I earned
my degree, I was in New Orleans on a recital tour. I had that rare break before my
performance, so I walked through the French Quarter, just a leisurely stroll. An old
woman walked up to me, and we just started talking, You know, just nice small talk,
then she told me about Charlie, and my family. She said she knew my great-great
grandmother, and that I'm descended from–"
The stranger interrupted, saying, "You're descended from a great family of warriors, Madeline. Jedi Knights to be precise. I knew your forebears, Maddie. Did it ever occur to you why you chose the surname 'Tasou' before you turned professional? It was Tante Seraphine who told you about Marbile Beauchamps née Marbe Tasou."
He drew closer, put his arm around her, then said gently, "Look into this mirror. See my story unfold before your eyes. Witness what I've been through, and realize why I don't want you to go down that path. It took me years to return to the light, after decades of submerging myself in the dark side. Afterwards, I want you to go to Charlie. Listen to what he has to say, then take that trip. Only then will you save yourself from the dark side. Oh, one more thing: You will discover wonderment and the fantastic, and you will learn much about yourself and reunite with a lost love."
The mirror began to swirl colors then a scene appeared. It looked like a
desert, and the young man was there. His mother was dying, and what he did after her
death was the beginning of his slow slide into the dark side.
What appeared in that mirror, all those events culminating into the unimaginable, the inexplicable, broke Madeline's heart. Then she realized the stranger's identity.
"You're the man I keep seeing in my dreams. You're Anakin Skywalker..."
Copyright©2007 by PRP