The Revisioners by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton Read Online (FREE)
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IT WAS KING WHO TOLD ME WE FORGOT THE PHOTOGRAPH. Twelve years old, but he’d been washing his own clothes since he was eight, and was often the one to remind me to take the trash out on Thursdays. I didn’t intend to place all that responsibility on him—he was a child—but he identified the holes in my capacity and dove into them. While I was filing motions for Mr. Jeff at Wilkerson & Associates, he was microwaving neat squares of beef lasagna. And now this, the picture my grandmother’s great-grandmother had had taken of herself, standing at the edge of her farm. Miss Josephine. Her husband had just died, and you could not miss that in her eyes, the loneliness. But you could also glimpse the pride: the rows of corn, their stalks double her height, the chickens at her feet. A smokehouse with shingles planked toward the roof like two hands in prayer.
“We could go back and get it,” King says.
I shake my head. “It’s too late,” I say, and maybe it is and maybe it isn’t, but I’m afraid if I turn back, I won’t make it through the stained-glass doors of the uptown mansion in front of us. I hadn’t fully come to the decision to move here, more like the decision had wound its way through me, and if I had another hour, another drive east, I might just stay over on that side of town, where my mama would welcome me. But I was tired of disappointing her. She was hard on me when I was a child. She held so much promise when she’d met my father at Tulane. She was one of the only blacks on campus and she caught his eye though the only black woman he’d known was his housekeeper, Mary. Six months later, my mother was pregnant. My father went on to law school. She had planned on going too but it would have been difficult for her without a baby; with me, it was nearly impossible. Still she did it, all the while working odd jobs as a waitress, caretaker, stenographer. My father felt neglected and took up with a woman from his Civil Procedure study group. My mother said she was better off without him, but for a long time when she looked at me, when she answered my questions, when she tucked me in to sleep at night, I could sense her bitterness straining through her tight smiles.
“We better go in,” I say. “It’s getting dark,” and King lets out a tired sigh.
“Why can’t we just go to Maw Maw’s?” he asks. He’s been asking this all week and I repeat again what I’ve been saying.
“This is a good opportunity for us, King. A better school. We’ll see each other more ’cause you’ll just be downstairs.”