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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Yankee Daughters — Excerpt

Yankee Daughters — Excerpt from Chapter 22, “Love Makes the World Go ‘Round




As promised, Mr. Jernigan brought the proof copies of his photos out to the house in mid-afternoon. Katerina pinned them to the wall so that everyone could study them. The formal pose showed the nine women lined up like spoons, their left sides to the camera. In a more casual shot, they clustered on the front steps, three sitting in front and the others facing forward behind them. Katerina and Becca were the first to study the results of the photo session.
“I think I hate photographs,” Katerina declared. “Cameras don’t lie, but it would often be better if they did.” 
“The pictures really came out quite well, Kat. You will cherish these for years.”
“No, don’t try to be diplomatic. I’m looking at all of us here and seeing our personalities on display as clearly as if we were wearing big signs around our necks.”
“I admit, I don’t like the formal line-up as well as the other one. I know convention says one should not smile in a photograph, but I’ve never understood why. You wanted these pictures to show that the long months of mourning were over, but everyone still looks too serious.”
“It’s more than looking serious. We all look like we’ve been sucking on lemons. I suppose those sour expressions are the result of my blow-up at Ruby for showing up in that horrible dress. But there are other things wrong with the pictures, too. I deliberately made Fiona and Sally’s dresses shorter, to show that they are the youngest. But captured this way in a photograph, it just looks like they are sprouting so fast that they’ve outgrown their own skirts.”
“They are growing up fast, I give you that. Look at them. They are easily the tallest. I suppose Mr. Jernigan did the arranging deliberately to put the two shortest girls on the ends and the tallest in the middle. But I see what you mean about the skirt lengths.”
“And the facial expressions! Take us one at a time: Martha is a complete blank. She neither knows nor cares what’s going on around her. I, on the other hand, am clearly biting my tongue to keep from screaming at someone. Nora? Nora looks tired. I think she is tired most of the time, and that makes me worry about her health. Then there’s Lillian—the unhappy, confused, browbeaten wife of a miserable prig!”
“Kat! Really!”
“Well, she is. At best she looks stupid. Then there’s Sally, she of the perpetual pout, and Fiona, she who is so smug about her own charms that she sometimes makes me want to slap her. Millie’s the sweetest of the lot, but here, even she appears to be wondering how she ended up in this group. Gloria is serene. I suppose having a rich man in love with you will do that, although I wouldn’t know from experience. And, of course, Ruby, the perennial bone in my craw, doing whatever she can to upset things and then thoroughly enjoying the show.”
“All right. I admit the line-up looks like it could be added to the post office wall, where they show mug shots of miscreants. But the informal grouping is much more pleasant.”
“Only because some of us are laughing at the rest of us. Something else in that picture bothers me, too. Ruby has her head cocked in that smart-alecky way she has of sneering at us. And if you look on the other side, you’ll see that Sally is doing the same thing. Heaven help us if Sally turns out to be as troublesome as Ruby has been!”
“They are still your daughters, Katerina, and I know you love each one of them.”
Ich liebe dich immer. Love them? Yes. I can’t help that. Aber ich weiß nicht immer Sie mögen. But nobody says I have to like them. And this has been a weekend when I really don’t like any of them. Too bad this was the moment I picked to preserve their images.”


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