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“Do you know what your name means, Vivienne Grace? And why your Christian name is after my mother, Vivienne?”

“Not exactly,” I admitted.
“Did they not teach you Latin at that fancy Magnolia Academy?”
“I took Spanish instead.”
“A lot of good that will do you.” stated Grand Mere. “Well mon petite. When your mama told me she wanted to name you Grace, I said that’s a fine name but would love for you to be christened Vivienne. It’s translation comes from the Latin ‘vivus’ meaning ‘alive.’ Your name was given to you recognizing our French heritage, where adjectives always come before nouns. Literally – you are the living personification of grace. And as such, everything about you is good.

For all your lovely innocence, the divine goodness which beams out of your pretty blue eyes, you’ve lived a false life. I knew from the start your daddy wouldn’t be good enough for your mama, and he’s proving it now.”

My eyes started to swell again, and Grand Mere realized she may have gone too far. The old woman sighed, and placed her manicured hand over mine.

“All I’m trying to say is you are too good for this, Vivienne Grace. In both Greek and Roman mythology, long before Jesus walked the earth, the Graces represented natural beauty, creativity, charm and the best life had to offer. You are all that and more. Get out of this world. It’s drowning in cheap whiskey and pretension.”

“Never forget the fact, you are a pretty Southern girl. Life can disappoint you sometimes. Circumstances you never anticipated will arise. I have always seen in my mind a picture of the fabulous lady you were meant to become. Dearest, think lightly on your troubles. Letting them pile up on your heart will break it faster than any dumb boy ever could.

“Remember the beautiful dreams you dreamed. Think upon your God-given talents. They are blessings from Heaven meant to help you succeed on Earth. Use your charms to live the life you want. Women, especially good-looking and intelligent ones, have so many talents they can rely on to see them through hard times. Add to that a decent amount of gumption, which you have in spades, and my dear that’s a force to be reckoned with.

“Grace, you are remarkable. There is so much ahead for you. Take this time to truly get to know yourself. You are so young. One day, when you’re old like me, you’ll look back and truly understand how you ever made it through this dark time.”

Grand Mere pulled me into a warm embrace. She held me, tighter than I could ever remember her doing before that weekend. I could smell her Chanel No. 5 perfume mingled with Vaseline lotion and White Rain hairspray. In her arms, I felt safe. Knowing I would be going back to New Orleans with her gave me such a comfort. I would be getting away from Atlanta, leaving Wesley and my family’s troubles behind me.

I looked up to my grandmother. Her pale green eyes sparkled like Mama and Macy’s but her nose and lips pursed into a smile which were like my very own. Although my face was burning with the flush from crying, I tried to muster a smirk.

“At least I’m going through the worst time in my life when I’m only 17. It’s hard to imagine I could ever be more sad.”

She shook me out of the hug, holding me at arm’s length. Her face changed from one of compassion to a reprimand a priest might give a confessing sinner.

“Vivienne Grace, it’s a very bad thing to think the worst has already happened. This gives one a false sense of security that nothing more terrible could ever occur. Let me tell you, mon petite. Things can always get worse. It’s better to be afraid of something. A lack of fear can sink one into further doom. Not living cognizant of future terrors will demand even more sacrifice when bad things happen. Always fear something, just as you always hold some things in this world the most dear.”

Editor’s Note: this is an excerpt working novel. Click here to read Chapter 1. All material belongs to the author and may not be republished or copied without written consent. Should you want to publish this story, well hell’s bells by all means please let me know! Any thoughts, feedback, likes, dislikes, please comment below and check back for more from this Pretty Southern novel.