• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 03


My sister’s fantasy wedding requires a portrait for her album. The Disney location is not enough. The billowing princess gowns are just the beginning of the pageant she wants to orchestrate.

Maybe she thinks the corsages and floral arrangements will mask the smell of burnt coffee and toast from her job at the diner. The rented tux will distract from her groom’s perpetually grimy fingernails. Her costume jewelry and the limousine ride to the airport for a week in Florida will make them forget the monthly payments on the mortgage for a house they can’t afford.

She doesn’t see the fret lines on father’s face as he tallies the cost of my sister’s desires. On the other hand, perhaps this will get him off my back. No wedding frenzy in my future. I’d rather eat nails. At least my job at the garage is paying for the auto mechanics courses I’m getting at the community college.

But now I have to sit while this high school kid, a friend’s little brother, draws my portrait. My sister insists that I wear the bridesmaid’s gown even though the alterations have still not been made. The sleeves hang off my shoulders. It's at least two sizes too large.

The stool is hard and wobbles under my weight. The artificial light is too bright. I take out a cigarette and place it between my lips. I cross my arms under the billows of the gown. The peach fabric hangs from my arms like an old person’s skin.

Okay, I say. Ready when you are.