Short Story Sunday: Springtime

Springtime

“A toast to springtime and love,” said Andy lifting his glass.

“To love? At least I know unicorns are real. I’m not so sure about love but, I’ll toast it with you. To love, and springtime,” said James lifting his glass and touching it to Andy’s. “I loved a woman once, but I didn’t know it. She was a Vampire of singular beauty and oddness. Nights with her were nothing but passion. We had a link between our souls where I gave and she received. Physically she gave and I received. I assumed she liked it, but then she left made a lot of bad choices. I wanted to be the only bad choice but I wasn’t. Then she told me to make a good choice and I didn’t pick her. I should have. She never contacted me. I assume that she assumed that I was with somebody else, and she would be right. But years passed, and I was with a lot of women I thought … well, I didn’t think. I never think. I really don’t care. I have fun. They have fun. But for some reason I’ve been thinking about her, and I know she knows.”

“Too late my friend,” said Andy. “It has been 112 years since you saw her. Do you really think she thinks about you?”

“No, but as long as I’m thinking about love. Actually I never think about love. But the wine is good tonight. Thanks.”

“You tried to seduce my sister once.”

“I tried to seduce your sister about a dozen times. It never worked but it was fun trying.”

“You’re going at it all wrong. James, my friend, I’ve loved a kind of love you can’t seem to understand. I’ve felt the soul of the woman I love leave her body when she died in my arms. Alas I fall for mortal women, but you…you act so uncaring, yet, you want that romance. You want perfection. You want goodness. You want something your heart can’t comprehend.”

James shrugged and opened the French doors leading to the garden. “I need some air.”

At 2:00 a.m. they could hear the song of a mocking bird in a tree down the block. They could hear the sound of a random car. They heard the quiet of a cool March evening.

“You hungry?” Andy asked, “We could order in.”

“No,” said James. “I don’t feel like it tonight. I’d rather go out, or just skip dinner altogether.”

“You’re always so crass and funny. What’s up with the somber lovelorn guy act?”

“I don’t know Andy. Maybe it’s the full moon. Maybe I’m just feeling my age.”

“Maybe you should look her up.”

“I did.”

“And?”

“Nothing. Married. Children. Her husband is a big time alpha Vampire guy. No. There are others. She was just one. So I move on. But it isn’t a bad thing.”

“You’re right. It isn’t a bad thing.”

James looked up at the night sky, searching for stars that were hidden by the urban lights.

On the edge of the fence pixies in tiny gossamer dresses walked in single file, their wings folded up on their tiny backs. The whispered among each other about lost loves and fools. Then they giggled in unison as glittering dust fell on the ground below them.

Andy glanced at them, but then turned his attention back to his friend, and the conversation changed to everything but love, romance, and most of all the women they’d known, and maybe loved.

~ End

 

Note: I first posted this in March 2016. I’ll try to have a new story next week. There is a an Artistic roller skating meet today so I’m off watching amazing things.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Short Story Sunday: Binge Watch

Sometimes even Vampires get bored on rainy Sunday afternoons. Andy knew that well, so he invited his friends over to binge watch. He’d gone out for snacks and come back to find everyone lounging around drinking wine and talking about other things.

“We tried to watch some Vampire shows but they were all so gloomy,” said Jayne.

“Don’t forget bad dubbing. There is nothing as bad as a mouth that doesn’t match up with the words,” said James.

“I dated a guy like that once,” said Elizabeth as she scratched Andy’s cat under it’s chin.

A swirl of color blasted through the air, then landed on the back of the couch. Six tiny fairies in pastel colored sat with crossed arms. “The Notebook. We want to watch The Notebook.

“No,” said Andy. “You’ve watched that at least fifty times. Let’s go upstairs. I’ll put on Bridesmaids, or Enchanted, or something else you haven’t seen yet.” He looked back at his friends as the fairies swirled around his head and pulled at his arms. “I’ll be right back.”

“We’re not watching Moonlight again,” yelled Jayne at Andy as he went up the stairs. “Alex O’Loughlin is absolutely gorgeous, but we’ve seen every episode five time at least.”

Andy settled the fairies in front of the upstairs TV in his office to watch Rebecca, then 27 Dresses.

Downstairs again he poured nuts in bowls, cut up some apples, and uncorked a few bottles of blood. “How about the movie Moonlight?”

“I’ve heard it is really good,” said James.

Elizabeth had seen it but said she’d gladly see it again. As a whole Vampires are pretty agreeable.

The four friends hunkered down to watch the movie.

They knew nobody would ever make an honest movie about people like them.  Then again, who said movies had to be honest. It was just entertainment.

After the movie Andy went into the kitchen to make dinner. Vampires never ate in movies. Tonight he’d fix rare tri-tip and a dark leafy salad. None of them felt like going out in the thunder storm for fresh blood. In the movies the weather was always bad, and everyone always wore leather. He thought about his sister who wrote stories about Vampires. Nobody else knew they were based on real life. She wasn’t about to give away the fact she wasn’t like her readers.

He could hear familiar music. His friends had found something else to watch. Twilight Zone. Go figure. Andy smiled and continued to make the salad. Nothing like friends and an afternoon of binge watching.

~ end

 

 

 

 

Short Story Sunday: I’ll Return to You

They’d numbered many – the qualities needed to do the job. Passions and desires for secrets and more. So was the life of a spy. You give and in return you receive and take and steal away like a ghost in the night, leaving an empty safe and a broken heart behind. It was a good gig if you could get it. It was her life and passion.

In the dark of night she left him drugged in a deep sleep of happy dreams. She’d made sure of that. Still feeling his touch on her skin she dressed in absolute silence. In her bag were the documents she needed, along with photographs and other mementos, including a packet of love letters that she would keep for herself.

She might never find a love like his again. It was one of those loves that was once in a lifetime. It was the kind of love that would last forever.

He was the most well ordered and controlled man she’d ever met. His soul as full of adventure. He valued perfection. Best of all, he could exquisitely heat up the night unlike any other man she’d ever met. He was someone who’d never settle or compromise.

When he awoke hours later he reached for her, but that side of the bed was empty and cold.

Later that morning he was told she was dead. It had been an accident. That day he thought his life would end. He wanted to die. It was almost unbearable, but he made it through.

Ten years later he married a lovely, kind woman with a wicked sense of humor. They had two children. It was a lot of work and crazy living with a family and kids. Life was good, as it should be. In fact it was more than good. It was amazing.

Still, every time his wife was late or one of the kids didn’t call on time he had that feeling of dread and panic come up in his soul. He never told them, but it was always there. He couldn’t lose them. He couldn’t go through that again.

One afternoon he reached into the pocket of an old coat and found a note. It was in the script of his long lost love.

I’ll return to you.

He was beyond that. He was beyond dreams of seeing her again. He was beyond hope she was alive. He was beyond stupid thoughts. He was beyond the anger he had towards her. He was beyond the grief and the love and the memories so sweet of their time together. But something triggered his heart and he could feel a tear falling down his cheek. It was alright to mourn. It was normal. It was natural to feel and love and remember. There was no crime in that. It took nothing away from his life now.

Yet how many times had he caught himself asking “What if?”

He took the dog for a walk by the river, like he did each day.

On the bank, near where the geese always rested, stood a stunning woman with flowing gold curls and sky blue eyes. It was her. It was a his past and his dreams and his sorrow.

She turned towards him. “Hello Rob.”

The dog ran up to her wagging it’s tail. He froze.

“I was told you were dead,” he said barely able to get the words out.

“You were told wrong. I had to go. I know, I know, I know you must be angry but let me explain…”

He stood listening as she told him about adventures in a world he couldn’t imagine anymore. It sounded like more of a movie script or a spy novel than anything in his current life. It sounded like his old life.

Then she said, “I know everything about you. I’ve been keeping track the past twenty years.”

“That’s sort of creepy. I’m sure it was plenty boring compared to the life we used to have.” He watched his dog run down the beach then looked back to her. “Why did you come back?”

“For you of course. We can continue our adventure. You can get your life back. I still love you.”

He stood there thinking of all the times he would have given anything for one last chance to talk to her. Just one last chance to hold her. One last chance to start over with her and change the past.

Then he stuck his hand in his pocket and found a sticky mess of peanut butter and jelly. His daughter would always chew and lick the darned things a few times and end up with a mess over everything.

“I’m not that guy anymore. I’m different.” he said.

“How?” She stood with her hands on her hips. He thought she was still the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. “How are you different?”

“I have a wet gooey half eaten peanut butter sandwich in my pocket, and it doesn’t bother me.” Then he smiled and gave her a kiss on the cheek and started up the trail back home.

 

~ end

 

 

At the Crocker Art Museum

My heart is in this place. The Crocker Art Museum, in Sacramento California, is such an amazing, beautiful, wonderful museum. Put it on your MUST SEE list.

I’m just posting images today. No words necessary. If you have any questions just ask and I will answer. Or go to crockerart.org for more information.

I can’t always explain the wonder and awe and feeling of being so complete and one with the universe when I’m in the presence of art. It is time travel for the soul. It is the essence of being. It was something that transports.  It is like a high that no drug can match. It is magic. ~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Enjoy. Oh, one more thing. I’ll post a story inspired (sort of) by the museum. It is also about dogs and full moons and maybe a little romance…maybe.

Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, California.

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Night Dogs (A Short Story)

Constantine Jones sat on the bottom of the museum steps wondering what just happened.

Earlier that evening he’d put on his best Armani suit, a Hermes silk tie, and was feeling good about the outcome of the evening. It was to be a charity event. Beautiful people would be there dressed up. Everyone would be relaxed, and happy, and it would be delightfully fun.

After discussing art and drinking champagne he’d lured a few well-heeled patrons to remote galleries to see some unusual modern art. There he took a few pints of blood from wrists and left his donors with no memories, except those of a delightful conversation with a well dressed, nice looking young art expert. Well, a 165 year old art expert, but that was besides the point.

Then in the main gallery, the California Room, he saw her standing in front of the Thomas Hill grand painting of Yosemite Valley. She wasn’t the most beautiful woman in the room but she was attractive in a cute sort of California girl way, and had that delightful look of both shyness and playfulness. Her olive green dress shimmered along the neckline with iridescent beads. As she turned her head towards him it was like a lightning bolt had hit his heart. First sight.

Second sight as well. A smallish dog of unknown breed stood next to her with a service dog vest on. A service dog. Why did she need a service dog?

With his usual ease, Constantine approached the woman. He asked if he could pet the dog. She said yes. She told him she’d had a head injury when she was in Afghanistan. She’d been in the Army. He would never guessed. The dog could detect seizures.

They talked for an hour about art, and life, and it seemed as if he’d met his soul mate. It was the best hour he’d ever spent. Then she was gone. He hadn’t even asked her name.

So like Prince Charming, he sat at the bottom of the stairs wondering where Cinderella had gone. All he had of her was one of her earrings he’d found on the steps. It was a gold strand with a single diamond on the end. The diamond was real.

I might as well walk home he thought. It was just a couple of miles. He’d clear out his mind. The full moon, and lights from late night downtown bars and restaurants lit the way.

Out of the corner of his eye he thought he saw a large dog wearing a back pack. A service dog? A smaller dog in a vest followed. Around the next corner, in an alley, he saw three more large dogs in the dark, all wearing packs.

Maybe it was a training exercise. The dogs could have been German Shepards looking for drugs or a missing person, or even bodies. It was weird, but at this point he didn’t care. He just wanted to go home. He was a Vampire so weird and unusual was over rated anyway.

Constantine thought about the woman he’d met. She’d been a nurse in a convoy, and there was a bomb. She didn’t say anything else except that her dog was named Tess. She liked Jazz music, indie films, and indie books. Of course she liked art too. She was a high school art teacher now, having moved on from nursing. But sometimes she helped out the school nurse. Weird how he got those details. He’d told her… what had he told her about himself? Not much. He was a Vampire so he never told much, at least not at first. He’d told her that he ran a philanthropic foundation that supported the arts, and other causes. He told her he had two cats and liked astronomy. She also was a watcher of the moon and stars. Then she kissed his cheek, excused herself, and a few minutes later he saw her walking out the front door of the museum.

As a Vampire he usually had a good feel for people but he couldn’t get a final read on her. Again, he thought about the fact that he didn’t even get her name. But the dog was named Tess. Tess the service dog.

Constantine thought about war. He could imagine the horrors she’d been through. He was a child during the Civil War or the War Between the States, whatever they wanted to call it. Those weren’t memories he cared to relive. He’d come out to California as soon as he was old enough to be on his own, as soon as he’d become a Vampire, and stayed there.

As he walked along the dogs with packs stayed in the alleys and shadows. Looking at the local news feeds and police scans from his iPhone he found nothing. One of his neighbors was a K-9 cop. Constantine would ask him about it tomorrow.

Arriving home at his craftsman style bungalow he noticed a few dogs in packs at the end of the street. This was getting weird. Odder, and a nice surprise, was that a woman in a slightly wrinkled olive green dress, and a single diamond and gold earring was standing on his front porch.

Tess the service dog stood beside her. Hanging off of her shoulder was a back pack.

No. It couldn’t be. She wasn’t Cinderella. She was a Werewolf.

They introduced themselves, again, but this time with names. Her name was Diana. Like the goddess of the moon.

“You have my earring,” she said smiling and holding out a hand.

“You have my heart,” he heard himself saying, much to his surprise.

Then he kissed her under the full moon, as Tess sat at attention and wagged her tail.

~ End

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

Short Story Sunday: Off To See The Wizard

Off To See The Wizard

Druce had just pulled his toasted seed and dried berry bread out of the oven when his friend Morcant came through the door carrying a basket.

“What do you got in there?”

“Smoked salmon, a bottle of squid ink, and dried salted kelp chips.”

“Nice.”

“I see you’ve made your famous berry bread. That will win over the hearts of the coldest stone.”

“We can only hope. I’m paring it with a jar of honeycomb, and a jug of my best mead.”

Druce wrapped up the bread and took a look at his friend. Morcant wore a soft seal skin over his shoulders. His tunic was sleeveless showing off his muscular arms. Today Morcant’s black hair was worn down around his shoulders framing his handsome face. Druce never wondered why all of the women in their village and the surrounding area sought Morcant out even if it was just to look.

The seal skin was that of Morcant’s sister who’d died in the past summer season. She and Morcant were Selkies. On land they were human, and in the sea they were seals. They guarded their seal skins with their lives, for if anyone stole their skin they would be trapped as humans, and in bondage forever.

Morcant’s brother-in-law never took his wife’s skin, but celebrated the fact that as a Selkie she had come to him of her own free will. Her love was free, and her husband was devoted to her. They had that rare true love that so many seek but never find.

One day while they were out fishing, his sister still in her human form, they were overcome by a great shark and dragged to the bottom of the sea as dinner. Morcant, as customary for Selkies now wore his sister’s skin to stay close to her spirit and to have her love with him always.

Druce looked into his mirror and brushed his sun streaked brownish blonde waves with his fingers. He was smaller than Morcant, and not quite as handsome, but the ladies still liked him too. And of course he liked them more than they could imagine.

“So, Druce,” said Morcant, “when exactly did this Wizard guy come into town?”

“Last week, under the darkness of the night.”

“What’s he like?”

“Personally? I don’t know. I hear he was sleeping with his sister. Nymue told me that. She also said he used to stalk her, asking her about her magic and getting all sappy and trying to sound mystical about it. One day she showed him a sword she was going to give to the next king and he said I’ll show you my magic sword. She kicked him out and told him she’d put a bad enchantment on him if he ever hit on her again. And I mean bad, you know, guy bad, like his sword won’t work for a year or two. Like a blade of grass.”

“Sounds like a creeper.”

“A real mess if you ask me. Anyway, that was a while back so maybe he’s changed. Gotta give a guy some doubt that he has grown up since his misplaced youth chasing ladies in lakes and all of that shit.”

“OK so I don’t get it Druce. You’re the Worlock around here. What’s the difference between you and some Wizard dude, except that you’re better looking and are better with women.”

Druce laughed. “As a Warlock, I can, how can I put this so it won’t sound weird. As you know I can harness and control spirits, demons, and other’s who aren’t human. I can’t make them work for me. I also control their evil so that they can’t harm people. I take their energy and do good with it. I can also do other magic and tricks through my own will. I deal with both sides of the world, that of the dead and that of the living. That of the physical and that of the spirits.”

“And what about Wizards?”

“Wizards learn their craft. They are gifted in the ways of magic, but their magic comes mostly from the use of potions, and the channeling of their magic through a staff, or wand. They can scare spirits and demons but they can’t control them. And Wizards are giving Warlocks a bad rap. I hear that in other parts my kind are being hunted down and burned to death. They think we’re minions of Satan.”

“That’s bull shit. Then why the fuck are we going to greet this guy and bring him gifts. He sounds like a freak to me.”

“Because he is working for the King.”

“The Kings is an idiot. He is obsessed with some old cup, and everyone knows his wife is sleeping with his best friend.”

“Hey, I didn’t put him into office. Blame that on Nyume. The Lady of The Lake should have minded her own business and …”

There was a scream and in through the door came a whirl of gray, which stopped and materialized into a woman. She smiled showing lovely white teeth, but her eyes were black and crazy. No harm. Just their friend Milen, who was also a Banshee.

“Milen,” said Druce, as he blew her a kiss. “Thanks for coming. I have fresh venison stew in the pot there over the fire. I put the eyes in there for you.”

She grinned and put a long fingered hand into the boiling stew and plucked out an eye, the popped it into her mouth.

“Hey, Milen, we should be gone just a few hours,” said Druce. “I’m so glad you could watch the baby for me.”

“Ohhhhhh of course,” she said as she went over to a baby unicorn who was curled up asleep in its tiny bed made of soft sea grasses and dried fragrant flowers.

“Alright then, we’ve better get going, if we’re going to go,” said Druce, and they packed up their gifts and went to meet their new neighbor.

The new Wizard had chosen and old Roman camp on a hill as his new home. The buildings were already there and in fairly good shape. It was also about a five day journey from there to where the King lived. Or at least the king the Wizard worked for.

The two friends arrived at the home of the Wizard and were greeted by a tall man with a brown beard flecked with gray. His eyes shone blue like spring wildflowers, flecked with gold.

The Wizard welcomed them in and introduced himself as Merlin, the Wizard. There was something sort of sad about him, like someone who had a lot of friends, but nobody he was really close to. Druce wondered if Merlin could pick up on emotions and sadness like a Warlock could. Or like a woman could.

Merlin thanked them for the gifts and asked them to come sit. He led them to a room where the walls were covered with tapestries and the chairs with lush textiles and furs.

“The seal skin you wear is beautiful. The finest I’ve ever seen,” said Merlin to Morcant.

“This is my sister’s skin. She passed six moons back. I wear this skin in her honor.”

There was a pause in the conversation and a bit of weirdness.”

“Morcant is a Selkie,” said Druce.

Merlin looked surprised. He was surprised. He’d never met a Selkie before. It seemd, as they talked, that there were a lot of things Merlin had never done.

Still they visited and had polite small talk. Druce and Morcant of the village and the surrounding peoples, and those who were not people. There was also a lot they didn’t tell him. When the sun began to set Druce and Morcant bid their host goodbye.

They started the walk home in silence but then Morcant spoke.

“Merlin was nice. Not much of a bro, if you know what I mean, but nice. But dude, he has more demons than you’ll ever have.”

Druce gave a sad smile, “At least I can control my demons. Fuck, they aren’t even my demons. Merlin needs more sunshine, and he needs to divorce himself from his dysfunctional family and friends. I always tell everyone that it isn’t demons that are bugging them, it is their toxic friends and family members that are getting them down. He needs to let go.”

“True,” said Morcant. “Are you going to tell him about the unicorn?”

“Hell no,” said Druce. “I’m not telling him where the dragons are either.”

As they passed a cottage on the edge of a field of grain a woman stepped out and greeted them. “Morcant, will you stay the night with me? I could use your love, and I’ll have plenty to give back.”

“Go,” said Druce. He knew Morcant had been seeing the Widow Cath for few months. Her elderly husband had died leaving her a large farm to manage, a task she did better than most men. Morcant had always been fond of her, but now it was becoming a bit more than fond.

At home Druce found the Banshee Milen sleeping with the tiny unicorn baby in her lap. She’d taken on a physical form, that of a woman of a certain age who had a well earned beauty earned from a life well lived, at least before she had been betrayed and murdered by her husband. He put a blanket woven of the softest flax over them.

He poured a glass of beer and pulled a stool outside in his garden, out under the stars. He could hear the waves of the ocean. Maybe later he’d go down to the beach and see what spirits were among the sea shells and boats tonight.

But now he sat and thought of the sad Wizard. Then he thought of the women he knew and how it would be nice to have one of them in his bed that night, skin against skin, and a special kind of magic that came when two people came together in desire of both the body and the soul.

Then he thought about how dragons had become so endangered due to the trade of dragon bones by Wizards for their wealthy clients. Everyone with half a brain knew that dragon bones powder did nothing to make one’s manhood larger.

Then he thought of women again.

Milen the Banshee came out with a stool and sat next to him. He told her about his visit to Merlin. She said it was sad when one was so full of power and so lost. Then she said she was glad her husband had been hanged after she’d died. She always mentioned that. Druce didn’t blame her. She hadn’t planned on being a Banshee.

Then she put her hand on Druce’s. “Darlin, I’ll be in human for for another hour or two. Let’s go inside and take advantage of that.”

And like any good Warlock who knew what was good for him Druce kissed her and took her inside.

~ End

 

First published January 2018
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Tangled Tales

 

Stumped


I thought it would be fun to start off the new year with a fun short story

Stumped

I just got done removing a stump from the back yard and I’m sitting down to a beer and the game when the doorbell rings.

My wife is out shopping and the kids are off with friends. I’m enjoying a little quiet time, just me and the TV.

I answer the door, and there is a guy about my age standing there. He looks like he just came out of GQ Magazine with a jacket, perfect jeans, wearing shoes that costs as much as my house payment. His features are like an Italian Model or a Movie star, that sort of pretty but manly look that women go nuts over. His hair is perfect, thick and silver. He’s wearing a Rolex Submariner. Nice.

He gave me a pretty serious look then said, “I’m sleeping with your wife.”

All right, I wasn’t expecting that one. He then looked me up and down like he was waiting for me to beat the shit out of him. I’m a big guy. Not big and fat, but 6’4″ with a lot of gym time. I used to play football. This guy wasn’t small but I had a good five inches on him and maybe sixty pounds. He looked like a runner or one of those freaking guys who rides a bike in neon colored spandex shorts.

Honestly I should have beat the shit out of him, but that isn’t my style. I just went numb. Heather and I had been together for 20 years, married 17 of those years. We have two kids and a house and friends and … we were one of those perfect couples. You know, we laugh a lot and say the same thing at the same time. That sort of perfect. We hold hands and … I thought things were fine.

Sure she’d put on some weight and had a hard time dealing with her body image. Sure she was over worked with her job and the kids and with me. Sure she was stressed, but who isn’t? But… this handsome, obviously wealthy guy was standing here telling me that MY WIFE was sleeping with him.

He started talking about passion… her passion. Sure we had passion. That morning I’d almost been late for work because of her passion, our passion. But he got into details of fetish stuff he’d do with her and how he made her scream the way I never could. I had no idea she ever wanted any of that stuff. I sure didn’t want it.

Then, as I stood stunned, he talked about her beauty and how smart she was and how I could never ever appreciate her. He said the kids didn’t need her as much anymore, he said she loved him.

I could feel my body start to shake. My world was imploding around me. My throat was tight. I thought I was going to vomit on his expensive shoes. Finally I said something. “Does she know you’re here?”

Mr. GQ glared at me and said, “I’m taking her away to live the life she deserves.”

“Do you love Heather?” I asked. I had to know. I knew the answer but I wanted him to tell me.

His eyes opened as big as dinner plates. “Heather?”

“My wife,” I said.

“Your wife isn’t Allison?”

“Heather.” I grabbed the wedding photo off of the hutch in the front entryway and put it in his face. “Allison lives next door.”

“Uh, sorry. I’m so sorry.”

He didn’t go next door. He just got in his car and drove away. About 20 minutes later the front door opened and I heard a familiar voice, “Honey, I’m home. Did I miss anything?”

“No, just got the stump out and I’m watching the game. Hey, Heather, did I tell you that I think you’re beautiful?”

“Sure. Thanks for getting that stump out. Will you help me with the groceries?”

I follow her outside and she gives me a little smile, the kind she always does when she has something smart to say. “You know, you’re the only man I ever loved.”

I grab a couple of bags. “Good to know. Love you too.”

~ end

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman