The Four Astrals
“We all have a will, we must find the way.”-Grandma Maurisse
The lunch benches shook with cheers and stomps for the latest triumph of debate. Peppa kept her back to them and what their celebrations meant. The debate club was only formed to prepare the new generation of orators to represent the town of Deux Montagnes at The Largesse, a gathering of representatives strategizing for resolutions to universal issues. Our town was part of the United Colonies as always, yet the newest culture of DM was far different from our beginnings.
“I would neeeever be a part of that insane asylum of liars!” that was Amerise ranting about her rejection of the Estaters- their name for status, their title to be respected, their propaganda to convert us into a statehood.
My friends and I were a part of another type of culture home grown in the DM colony. We were not and would never be Estaters; our legacy is rooted in reading the stars and respecting the ways of the land. Subastrals were our name and our pride although it is used to demean our kind. “That’s not an occurrence we have to worry about, I don’t think they’d be interested in the daughter of a moralist let alone an aeronautical,” I told her.
“That’s true,” the tiny terror with a romantic heart agreed, “there are no moral directives in what they are doing at The Largesse now.”
Splendide, next to her, flicked through the celestial almanac past moon phases, drought charts and remedies from the earth until stopping at the astrological readings.
“Here, take a look at your astro profile for today, maybe that will brighten up today’s outlook?”
Madame Moira, who wrote the zodiac guide, was one of the bloodlines that founded the town as witches and clairvoyants that fled from the north during the witch trials, many descendants of Tituba of the Arawak. Along the way other escaped slaves and displaced Indian tribes formed pilgrimage covens: communities of protection based on common beliefs in mystics and magic. In 1980, the year my friends and I were all born, The Largesse restricted them all to operate under “entertainment” purposes only; re-directive number one.
Leo, who was actually a Virgo in the stars read: “Conquer a major project with the new moon on the 12th…” “The 12th is in two weeks. I wonder what major project is coming up-I can’t take another group project with a bunch of Estaters.” Amerise grabbed the pamphlet back “Hey I’m Aries and it says ‘Major change comes with the new moon on the 12th’. I mean that’s kismet toooootally, right!? Let’s chart us AAaaall!!!” She sing-songed while grabbing her notepad and a pen beginning to plot the chart times and moon predictions including the other two daughters, Peppa, the Scorpio and Splendide the Capricorn. When she finished with a look of amazement, she spread her hands above the scribbles announcing, “This is HUUUUUGE gals!”
“This is coooontrabaaaand gals!” a patron of the preparatory societies mocked her snatching up the almanac. Langus Macnell was a son of the old founders but upheld every restriction that was set into action. “Our minds are for more than petty, earthy drivel. This institution is about ambition and achievement-leave the weird gypsy stuff where it belongs, behind the vaults.” His epaulets swishing as he spun on his boot heel, folding the almanac into his vest pocket.
“We have to get that book back! My mom doesn’t even know that I took it out of the house.” Splendide put her head on the table defeated. “She’ll never let me take the car for our road trip to Florida to see Mark Twains’ museum!”
“Mother God he’s so fine but I hate him! He’s always lurking and swooping,“ complained Leo sneering at his dark crown of an afro while pulling hers into a bun. She had a love hate relationship with Macnell: she crushed on tall guys and he was as attractive as he was tall, 6’7 lean to her 6’1 athletic frame, and had a handsome swagger when he walked and when he was dressed in his dapper duds: quarter waist length evening jacket with detachable shoulder cape, leather tesla ray wrist cuffs, complete with top hat adorned with time zone clocks and a mysterious master key! His confident stride and suave demeanor complimented his leather belted punk suit and cape duster! He also had sickening intentions when it came to the fate of the colony which simultaneously made him unbearable to her!
Peppa put a consoling hand on her friends back. “Don’t worry, as far as everyone in these parts is concerned that book isn’t anything more than recipes and farmers information. As long as we keep it that way we can easily get the almanac back.” The horn for midday sciences sounded interrupting her motivational pep talk. “We’ll meet outside the horn tower end of day.”
Peppa went to philosophy with Splendide while Leo headed towards world science with Amerise on to minerals and oceanography.
While on the way, Amerise shared her nagging thoughts with her friend. “Leo, when did the Deux Montagnes values begin to shift? Why is everyone becoming focused on becoming just like the rest of the Estatehoods?”
“I hate to bring it up, but I know it has to do with your grandmother’s disappearance from The Largesse. This new age council is all about hiding truths, all surface without the sincerity.”
“Never that! Every woman in my family is deeper than the waters of the waters we survive on. There will never be anything more important than living and reciprocating in kind to the earth and each other or we won’t have a surface to stand on!”
Our homeland was located at the fifth bend up the long arm of the Mississippi River from the Hispanbuola Ocean well known for our aeronautic ships, stilt buildings and treetop dwellings. This whole area could become a flooded marshland if the river ever rose and became unruly; we headed the fluctuations of nature by keeping the actual town a safe distance back from the waterway and sandbagging the shoreline during heavy rains.
The Houma tribes inhabited the southeast territories, our river valley entrance. Our residents regularly consorted with the Houma on rights and rituals. Secretly of course, as all meetings between those rooted in the old world had become. Since the African, Portuguese, and Caribbean conquistadors arrived in 1480 we had been sharing this traveling port transformed into a secondary homestead for the bicoastal families that claimed Deux Montagnes as home. A welcoming Gateway site to travelers as their eyes rose from to the grand mountains split by the great river-towering peaks reaching as high as 2,oo0 feet. Our waterway was our open womb to the wide world, birthing seafood, family, and pride. Now, more of the new population portrayed our pride lands as a salivating mouth swallowing greed, new luxuries, and secrets like sedatives to placate the current leadership.