Family Photo -Liz Wiley

We were all told to stand in front of the steps that lead to our front door. All five of us and my mom. She looked like an aviator that day. She was ready to fly away as soon as the picture was taken. She had a pink and purple chiffon scarf wrapped around her neck, tied in a knot that was cocked just a little to the side; she was wearing a cone-bra, a pale pink cotton shirt, a brown wool jacket – I never liked this jacket, it always irritated my cheeks when I would rub against it- and cream colored cropped slacks. I clung to the sateen fabric of those slacks. My hand was wrapped just by her knee. She was carrying Joanie in her arms so she kept saying, “Nina, let go. You’re going to make me trip.” When we reached the sidewalk Dad told us to line up in order of age. Mom sat down on the concrete stairs and we gathered around her. Susan, Theresa, Mom (holding Joanie), Cathie, and me.

The breeze that day kept sending Cathie’s long blonde hair to my face. It was like straw whipping me on my cheeks, and getting between my lips. I kept spitting the long strands out of my mouth, and wiping them with my hand…but her hair wouldn’t stay away from me.

“Stop pulling my hair!” Cathie snapped. She turned toward me with her blue-green eyes narrowed and tucked her hair behind her shoulders.

The breeze also brought the smell of patchouli. Mom had dotted the essential oil on her wrists this morning. She hardly ever wore this scent. It had been a gift from her sister, my aunt Kathleen. Aunt Kathleen knew all about that kind of stuff. She sold essential oils, incense, and candles on the street in San Francisco.

The smell of patchouli is Earthy, and somewhat sweet. I loved it. I wished Mom would wear it more often, but she favored heavy perfumes. I didn’t like those perfumes, I could taste them in the back of my throat more than smell them. But patchouli was different. It wasn’t intense, and I could smell the Earthy/sweet smell as opposed to taste it.

“Okay! Everybody ready?” Dad held the camera up to his right eye. He had to push his glasses on to his forehead in order for the camera to be close enough to him.

“One…two…three…” I let my teeth show when I smiled. I always thought that people looked happier when their teeth were showing. I knew Cathie wasn’t smiling. She never smiled. Smiling made her nose spread. I never knew what she meant by that. Butter spreads, not people’s noses.

“Smile!” Dad pressed his finger to the button on the top of the camera. There was an audible click at the exact same time at the flash. It wasn’t too bright because we were outside, but I could see the small white light as he snapped the picture.

“There’s honey-dipped donuts in on the kitchen table,” Dad said as he stood. We all squealed with delight. It was always perfect when Dad brought home baked goods.

“I stopped by Fenwick on my way home today.” He barely finished his sentence before we were all scampering into the house.



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