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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-12-17 15:06:01
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  We stared at each other. Dad seemed to be waiting for me to drop my eyes, to apologize and tell him I was wrong so we could go back to being like we were, but I kept holding his gaze. Finally, to call his bluff, I turned around, bent over slightly, and rested my hands on my knees.

  "I think I hear Dad calling," I said, then made for the door.

  "I'm his daughter," I said.

  I pulled away from him. "I thought you were going to leave me behind," I said.

  John's daughter, Jessica, turned to me and said, "But she laughs just like you do."* * *I showed Mom and Lori the house. I still went into the office in the city once a week, but this was where John and I lived and worked, our home梩he first house I'd ever owned. Mom and Lori admired the wide-planked floorboards, the big fireplaces, and the ceiling beams made from locust posts, with gouge marks from the ax that had felled them. Mom's eye settled on an Egyptian couch we'd bought at a flea market. It had carved legs and a wooden backrest inlaid with mother-of-pearl triangles. She nodded in approval. "Every household," she said. "needs one piece of furniture in really bad taste."The kitchen was filled with the smell of the roasting turkey John had prepared, with a stuffing of sausage, mushrooms, walnuts, apples, and spiced bread crumbs. He'd also made creamed onions, wild rice, cranberry sauce, and squash casserole. I'd baked three pies with apples from a nearby orchard.

  MOM AND DAD SURVIVED the winter, but every time I saw them, they looked a little worse for wear: dirtier, more bruised, their hair more matted.

  My heart started to race, and my palms grew damp. I walked down the bus aisle to the tiny restroom in the rear and washed up in the metal basin. I studied my face in the mirror and wondered what New Yorkers would think when they looked at me. Would they see an Appalachian hick, a tall, gawky girl, still all elbows and knees and jutting teeth? For years Dad had been telling me I had an inner beauty. Most people didn't see it. I had trouble seeing it myself, but Dad was always saying he could damn well see it and that was what mattered. I hoped when New Yorkers looked at me, they would see whatever it was that Dad saw.

  I expected him to turn and walk away, but there were six stinging blows on the backs of my thighs, each accompanied by a whistle of air. I could feel the welts rising even before I straightened up.


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