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The old bush was free from the soil, and Elizabeth heaved it into the Tates’ front yard. She then set the new shrub down in the empty hole. “Make sure you pack some mulch around the base,” Mr. Augustine yelled from the porch. “Okay.” “And make sure you clip all the dead leaves off.” “I can do that.” “No, Miss Tate. You need more mulch.” “Okay.” “Miss Tate.” Mr. Augustine got to his feet and leaned forward on the edge of the porch, hugging a stout cream column with one arm and pointing towards Elizabeth with the other hand. “Miss Tate. Miss Tate, you’re doing that wrong.” * Elizabeth closed the front door of the Tate house and sighed with relief. Bed. “Did you finish?” her dad asked from his study. She stepped inside the small room and found her dad with one baseball game on the TV and another on the radio while he balanced account sheets. He did not look up from his work. Elizabeth said, yes, she had finished, and he went on working silently. More than anything she wanted to slip onto her dad’s lap as she used to as a child. He would touch the bottom of her hair and tell her things: how the White Sox were better than the Cubs, how to arrange an account sheet, or how he’d met her mom. The latter was her favorite story, and she’d interrupt her dad’s other topics and say, “Daddy, tell me about the first time you saw Momma.” Chuckling, he’d drop his pencil and wrap his arms around her. “Why always that story?” She’d shrug and lay her head down on his shoulder, listening to her father’s steady voice as he recited the story exactly as he had before.

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When she was twelve years old and her dad stopped calling her “Princess,” she spent a month’s worth of allowance on the blue, leather-bound journal that now sat on her nightstand beside the Bible her Uncle Caleb had given her for First Communion. The only thing ever written on the Italian pages was the story of how her parents had met. At thirty-five, I was just a junior accountant. I had recently been transferred to Chicago. That day was one of the first warm days of spring, so I slipped out early for my lunch break. Walking past the bakery, I saw the most beautiful girl leaning over the counter counting danishes, the ones with the strawberries in the middle. So I casually circled the block and went inside. She said, “Welcome to Luca’s. How can I help you?” But I couldn’t think of anything to say! Mind blank and palms beginning to sweat, I looked up at the menu and asked for the first thing I saw—cannoli. Only I pronounced it “Cuh-nol-eye,” and the pretty girl smiled. She was beautiful. Her hair was braided over one shoulder, leaving the other side of her neck bare. I wanted to weep. I asked her to coffee. She replied, “I have enough of coffee at work. How about dinner?” Blushing at another blunder, I readily invited her to dinner. The day when I met your mom, she was wearing a very special apron—the one that looks as if it could be a wedding dress, the cream one with the lace around the edges and tiny pink rosebuds stitched on the pockets. With a sigh, Elizabeth crossed the room to the wingback chair that faced the TV and sat there silently. She had always loved being in her dad’s study: coloring on the floor, doing homework at his desk, or reading a magazine in the wingback chair while listening to ballgames. It was the many hours spent in this room that had made Elizabeth appreciate numbers and fall in love with the Chicago White

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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...

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