Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Hi everyone! Here's a new revision one of the first sections of Screen Test. Thanks for reading!
After my parents died, I displayed their pictures angled next to each other. Despite their relatively long marriage, I don’t own a single picture of the two of them together. In their clear glass frames, the kind without a border, they are young and the eventual ravages of their lives are nowhere to be seen. My mother stands in front of a small crowd in Australia, a large brown python around her neck, draping over her arms like a shawl. She holds a matronly purse in one hand, the endless blue sky in the other. Around her neck she wears a cheap gold-colored pendant M for Margie. In these years, she’d adorn herself with this necklace or one from which a glass orb that contained a mustard seed inside it hung. Her brown hair, shoulder-length and feathered, her face very French, a strong nose, gray eyes. A short woman with a lot of curves, she loved to say that she was small but mighty. She looks at the snake with a kind of love, and I think that she was never afraid of what she should have been.
My dad poses next to a Christmas tree, his hair still black and full, the way it would remain until he died. He wears an army flight jacket that my then-husband and I bought him for Christmas. He’s a handsome man, everyone said so. Not a care in the world, except bills he couldn’t pay, a sick wife who never seems to recover. Still, he gives the thumbs up and smiles. After we open presents, he’ll go into the garage and work on his plane, an unfinished Mustang II that has been there since I leared to walk and will still be unfinished when he dies. But he doesn’t know that. In the picture, it’s always Christmas.
My younger sister Beth and I were posed together in front of the fireplace every Christmas in fussy matching red velvet dresses that my dad’s mother sent each year. In my favorite, we are both holding lit taper candles. Beth looks at hers with fear and hate -- the wax has dripped on her. I stare at the flame, mesmerized by the flame. I’m a lot taller than Beth and always will be. I look like Daddy and Mother whereas Beth looks like my mother’s mother, Yvette, at least before Yvette took so many blows from Charlie that she didn’t resemble anyone.
I also have a picture of Beth as an adult displayed next to my parents, a green python around her neck, a belly dancer beside her. She looks frozen and terrified in front of the camera, trying to be game. She smiles, eyes wide, her hair pulled back into a scrunchie. Despite the snake, she doesn’t look like our mother, the person she loved the very most in the world. But they are both being brave. I could never touch a snake so great is my fear. But I often feel the weight around my neck.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"The still must tease with the promise of a story the viewer of it itches to be told." Cindy Sherman
Drinking documentary suggestion: Nobody's Here But Me
Benedictions and Maledictions