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a l l

t h e

b e a u t i f u l

a n d

n e w


s u s a n

l a n d

Jeff gave an over-the-top sigh and said: “Philip’s a bit of a Heal-the-World Groomzilla.” Glen smiled, as if in on a joke. Jeff rested a hand on his shoulder. I wanted to slam the piano down on Glen’s fingers. Then Jeff changed his persona completely and his voice turned Quaker-plain. “I invited your mother, Ann. I thought she might come with you. I’ve always regretted having hurt her.” I snapped, “She wasn’t hurt for long.” “And you?” “Less long.” A clear lie, and Jeff, the coward, should have called me on it. Glen sang, “Because of all the beautiful and new, things, I’m learning about you—” I spat, “Shut up!” And immediately wished I hadn’t. Glen got up without looking at me and took a seat in the back row of benches. I followed and sat down, not touching him—lest he push me away, which I didn’t think I could handle at that moment. Everything got very quiet as the people milling about took their seats. Then it was quiet for a few minutes more. Finally the bride and groom walked in together and stood in front of an elevated platform with flowers and vines and four chairs. Danielle wore a plain white linen dress, her hair in a blond braid down her back. The groom had sandy hair and looked like a Jesus on black velvet, just as Danielle used to tell me he did. The couple’s parents, minus Jeff, sat down in the chairs. Danielle’s mom and dad, overweight and over-dressed, beamed. Philip’s 20

father wore a black t-shirt and a suit with an expensive shimmer. He’d moved to California and owned a vineyard. His ex-wife, Jeff’s current wife, was petite and redheaded. She wore a lavender dress. I despised her. Glen’s fingers played silent notes on his knees. My knees grew jealous as the wedding ceremony rambled in and out of silent reflection: seven annotated Jewish blessings; an all-join-in Michael Row Your Boat Ashore; and testimonials focusing on the rebuilding and teaching the couple had done at a school in New Orleans. In one speech after another, the words “after the floods” resonated like Scripture. Or how I imagined Scripture would resonate if you heard it on Sundays, year after year. Philip’s father explained about the divine light in all human beings, as my mom—with new highlights in her curls and a sorry-I’m-late face that didn’t do her prettiness justice— walked into the meetinghouse and slipped onto an empty bench beside the open door. She smiled for the “I do’s.” Glen reached for my knee and I put my hand over his. My knee hummed with nervous pleasure. Glen squeezed, just hard enough not to hurt. He knew exactly when to stop: new data. The ceremony ended and the guests applauded, but my mother stayed on her bench, engaged in a reunion with a woman I vaguely remembered as the mother of someone I’d gone to kindergarten with. I imagined my mother telling the woman how she’d married a widower and had a baby. She’d say nothing about Jeff, or about how I’d been left naked by the side of a road within minutes of taking my first

Profile for Katya Cummins

Niche Magazine No. 1  

Niche is an online literary magazine that was designed to be limitless. It aims to provide a place where an array of voices, from experimen...

Niche Magazine No. 1  

Niche is an online literary magazine that was designed to be limitless. It aims to provide a place where an array of voices, from experimen...

Profile for nichelit