A Paper Fan
I stared at the computer screen, the recipe for blueberry cobbler staring back at me as my daughter’s voice, plaintive as a puppy’s whine, pleaded, “Please, Mom, why can’t I go? Everybody else is going.”
“You can go to the school lock in, or you can stay home from the prom. You cannot go to some hotel room with a bunch of drunken seniors. That’s final.” I still didn’t look up because the hurt and accusation in my daughters’ eyes skewered me, their blue the same blue as my sister’s satin dress and cornflower corsage had been. “I said no, and I meant it. If you continue to whine, you can consider yourself grounded as well.”
My daughter huffed out of the home office, slamming the door, sharp and sudden like the piercing pain I felt when I remembered my sister, who never came home from her prom. One year in age had separated us. Russian vodka at a Ramada Inn had bonded us.
My sister had left the Ramada in a white Ford Mustang convertible. On the old river road, the bridge railing met the Mustang’s front bumper. The Sunday paper said the car had folded as neatly as a paper fan. A paper fan. The three words pulsed in my head.
After that night, shame had shriveled my heart and kept me silent. My daughter didn’t know how the aunt she had never met, but looked so much alike, had died. My daughter didn’t know that the vodka arrived at the party in my handbag.
Through the door my daughter yelled, “You never let me do anything. I hate you.”
And I welcomed this hurt, believing pain would redeem me. My attention turned again to the screen. A cup of blueberries, a cup of sugar, a cup of flour.
Blue berries. Blue dress. Blue flowers on my sister’s grave.
Bernie Brown is from Raleigh, North Carolina with a M. A. in English. Writing is her primary activity, but she also enjoys reading, sewing, watching movies, and traveling. Her stories have appeared in several small circulation print magazines and e-zines including Punkin House Digest, All Things Girl, Still Crazy, and Whistling Shade. She is a finalist in the Grateful Steps Publishing annual contest, and her story will appear in the forthcoming anthology. Bernie is a Writer in Residence at the Weymouth Center for the Arts. She is currently working on her first novel.