Miss Congeniality

Even as an embryo, she made room for "the other guy." Slick and
bloody, she emerged quietly: Why spoil the doctor's best moment?
When Dad ran over her tricycle, she smiled, and when Mom drowned
her kittens, she curtsied, a Swiss statuette. Her teachers liked the way
she sat at her desk, composed as yesterday's news. In high school she
decorated her locker with heart-shaped doilies and only went so far, a
cartoon kiss at the door. She read the classics, The Glamorous Dolly
Madison, and dreamed of marrying the boy in the choir whose voice
never changed. Wedding photos reveal a waterfall where her face
should be. Her husband admired how she bound her feet to buff the
linoleum. When she got old, she remembered to say pardon to the
children she no longer recognized, smiling sons and daughters who sat
at her bedside watching her fade to a wink.

by Maxine Chernoff

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