In the middle of the melee, with a glass in hand, the photograph captures her looking way off somewhere. There is no expression of happiness on her face, not even the quiet contentment at just being present. At the holiday gathering, confusion is well installed, forcing bodies up and moving them around the house, but breaking no bones this time like the great song proclaims; just hands reaching out to lift bottles, pass plates, bring sweets to lips, wipe gravy from the babies’ faces, hold chests to control the volume of a cackle and to cut more pieces of meat from the platter. Maybe the camera only just missed her smile by moments when her visage would have been more vigorous and engaging and not so quick to belie…something.
Those who know can tell the story. Secrets are always held by two or three in a room. Glances might meet in the middle of a sentence while the rest of the crowd rambles on in ignorance. Lucky for them! What might his name have been? How would his eyes have looked? What would any of it had mattered when he started to totter across the room, master the way a mouth forms a word and sprout like these that were here? There was no sentencing for them, no final order of doom, no pressing out like wet fingers on the tip of a lit match and the world still rotated in its usual way. Woe begotten was the look, so ready to return to the bottom of the house, to the room in the back, to the other side of the wooden door, to the inside of the covers where tears could flow unabashed.
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