I look at him, and I see her in his eyes. I see her in his smile his laugh, like a ghost. A spirit sent from papa Ge to taunt me, forever. Because I know that she will be with us forever. As long as he loves her, he will never love me. She will be foremost in his mind, the ideal of perfection that he will hold me up to, the wistful of reminder of what could have been. In her death, she is immortal up on the pedestal of his heart and the fires of my hatred and envy. She will be between us as long as we live, the slender black skinned girl with dreamers eyes who my husband lied to and then betrayed. I see her in him, and I see her in my son, Danny, and my daughter, Ti Ricorda. I see the ghost of her in them, and I must turn away in disgust; hold them at arms length like my parents did to me, like I swore I would never do. I don't care anymore. I've forgotten how to.
I live in a world governed by ghosts that we must never acknowledge. I live in a world that breathes deceit and puts lies on golden thrones to fawn over with empty words. I bring my children up to be shadows that hide behind lipstick and mock the unknown with harsh words to cover fear. I look in the mirror and I let myself see only perfection. The flaws are all to obvious if you look, but the problem was never controlling what we saw. We all do that just fine. I am beautiful dresses and steady slate eyes and children that I barely know. I look at the man beside me, haunted my a memory and in love with the past, and wonder how I ever could have cared for him. I smile at the crowds and smile my haughty smile, knowing that my daughter is watching me, storing up my façade to practice in front of the mirror until she gets it right. In this, at least, I won't let her down. The girls in this family step on broken glass to achieve their dreams and pretend not to care when it cuts their feet.
I am no longer Andrea Deveraux, a seventeen year old girl with rain eyes and a glimmer of hope, who thinks she has her world figured out. I am a woman who knows that you never can, and is clever enough not to care. I am like my mother before me, like my grandmother before. I am the woman I once swore never to be, before I learned that you can't stop fate. I am Andrea Beauxhomme. Andrea, who learned to reach for the big things because they are easier to get. Who watched her future shatter, then pretended that glue could mend a million pieces of glass. I am like all the women in my city. I am nothing special. I know that one day, my daughter will be just like me. And I don't care.
Once upon a time, I loved a man who was just a façade. I watched him dance with a beautiful peasant who never knew who he really was. I watched him as he cast her out, and her as she died. I was scared because I saw me in her. And I swore never to end up like that. Like Ti Moune. The little orphan. The little girl who was allowed to cry when I bit my lips into shreds and slid razors across my hips and held my head up straight and pretended everything was fine. Once upon a time, I stood in front of a mirror and stared at my wide eyes and silky scars and shaking hands and swore never to end up like the only woman my husband had ever loved.
That is the only promise I ever kept