My Mama

My mama, she was famous.

My mama, she was famous.

I don’t know this ’cos I met her or anything. I mean, I didn’t know her. Papa said she died when I was real little, so I guess I sorta knew her, but I was still just a little girl, so I don’t really remember her.

I just know that my mama was a lady of the world. She was a lady of lights and photographs and prettiness, one of those ladies you see on the covers of all the fancy magazines. She looked like a rich lady, with her hair all done up and pearls shining on her neck and covered with these great big old furs, like you see in the movies.

But they weren’t any of her stuff.

I mean, maybe some of the pearls (I still have this string, it’s real pretty, when you look at it in the light) that Papa gave to her when they was sweethearts, before me, but the other stuff, the pearls and things, they wasn’t hers.

My mama, she mighta played the part of a rich lady all good and fine, so that if you saw one of her pictures from her job, she looked like she belonged in one of them nice dinner parties on the lake, the ones that, if I stand on the edge of the banks and squint real hard across the water and pond-plants clustered around the edge, I can see the lights dancing across the sky and hear snatches of laughter and watch this whole life, like this big other fairy world, way across over there that my mama used to know so well, from being one of the pretty ladies in the magazines.

But me, I’m not like my mama.

I’m not pretty.

Papa says I look just like her, but he’s lying. Papas do that, when they don’t want you feeling bad about yourself. It’s sorta their job, I guess.

I’ve never been in the magazines, and I can only wear my pearls to church on Sundays, and only then on special Sundays, and I’ve only got one good dress, and the rest are either real bad from my big sister, who was pretty like my mama was—if you ever did see a pretty girl, that was my sister—or they’re just overalls and a shirt, like a boy’s clothes.

Even when I put on Mama’s old rouge and eye stuff and do my hair all up and put on my nicest dress and look at myself in the big ol’ mirror in the attic, looking from her picture to mine, I can’t see anything pretty there.

I just see me.

That’s all I’ve ever seen.

The End

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