Excerpt from What Do You Want to Remember?
Louise had been a bridesmaid in four girlfriends’ weddings since her surgeries. One of the weddings had been in an old opera house in a small town in central Kansas, two had been close to Lake Michigan, and one on a golf course—well, until it rained at the last minute, and it was moved to the clubhouse next to the golf course. For Louise, the picture-taking was always the uncomfortable part. With the wedding party standing in unnatural formations around the bride and groom, Louise could feel the photographer singling her out as strange-looking, mentally shrugging before getting on with the required shots.
But Janet’s wedding a few years ago to her second husband, the Doctor, and only 18 months out from the surgeries, had been the worst. During that photo shoot Grammy, Janet’s mom, called the shots. After the ceremony, everybody was at the front of the church by the altar for a big family portrait, and Louise was standing next to Janet, holding a bouquet of white tulips and wearing a mushroom- colored shift. Grammy kept going to the photographer and shouting things to the group, telling Louise’s brothers to smooth their hair and Janet to put on more lipstick.
“Oh, mother,” Janet kept saying. She wore a knee-length, ivory skirt-suit that Louise had said was “very Jackie O.”
And then she zeroed in on Louise.
“Something just doesn’t look right,” Louise’s grandmother kept saying to the photographer as she looked at the tiny images on his camera.
“Louise, smile more, or maybe tilt your head?” she went on. “Weezy, can you look at the camera more straight on?” Grammy called out, using her hands as a megaphone.
It was then, in front of her brothers, her mother the bride, and her grandmother, that Louise began to cry.
It caused a scene.
Janet had to comfort Louise in the church bathroom, and the guests had to wait an extra half hour for them to show up at the reception hall. The final result that hung on Janet and the Doctor’s living-room wall showed Louise standing, bleary, feet just a bit too spaced for balance, with white knuckles around her bouquet. Louise wished Janet would take it down.
This selection comes from Louise Krug’s book Tilted: The Post-Brain Surgery Journals, coming soon from 99: The Press.
Louise Krug is also the author of Louise: Amended (2012), which was named one of the Top 20 Nonfiction Books of the Year by Publishers Weekly. She is an Assistant Professor of Nonfiction Writing at Washburn University, in Topeka, Kansas. Some of her recent work has appeared in River Teeth, Word Riot, Parcel and Huffington Post. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her husband and children.
Noh Anothai was a researcher with the Thailand-United States Education Foundation (Fulbright Thailand) between 2011-12, during which he hosted cultural events for Thailand’s Ministry of Culture and College of Dramatic Arts. Winner of Lunch Ticket‘s inaugural Gabo Prize for Translation and Multilingual Texts (2014) and OUTspoken’s poetry prize in 2015, Anothai’s original poems and translations of Thai poetry have appeared both online and in-print, most recently in Ecotone and The Berkeley Poetry Review. A reader for River Styx’s annual poetry contest, Anothai teaches for the online MFA program at Lindenwood University.
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