by Bernie Brown
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.