Portraits


She enters her parents’ home; looks at a portrait on a table crowded with portraits. It’s just another one standing the test of time. A black and white photo of her parents’ wedding; they are cutting the cake. The groom is lean, tall, a handsome classic look; the mustache is a mistake, she thinks, but it’s her father’s most recognizable signature, a mustache. He refers to it as a standard of the respectable male; it lasted longer than it should. The smile; her father has a smile in this picture. For many years she hasn’t seen photos of him smiling. His grandkids have changed him; soften him, at least on pictures. Her mother dares to wear a mini dress with a hood as her wedding gown; she has always known the reason. That face; the face gets all the attention in the black and white portrait, the hood covering the hair makes it even stronger. She smiles as well; however, she is always smiling and crying, or crying. The perfection of that face, she doesn’t quite understand. She looks at her own profile and can’t see that grace. Mother and daughter are the same, not physically; they don’t even resemble each other. However, they are the same. For years, she has fought against their character’s resemblance. She wants to be smarter; she wants to be independent; nothing like her mother, or at least, nothing like how she sees her. She lingers her gaze at the picture like she hasn’t done in a long time. The portrait – that smile, that face – has haunted her since she was a kid; admiration, yes, but one that was never exposed. Now, she is married, she has kids, one of them is a girl; like them. She looks at the picture and realizes how much she has judged that woman, her mother, that marriage, her father. Never understanding how someone can possibly believe in endless love. The irony in long marriages is how they create a disillusion on “fairy-tale” romances for their children. The kids watch their parents going through the endless ups and downs of a relationship. The pain of routine, the tireless rediscovery of the person that shares the same bed; the disappointments. She remembers how many times she wanted to end her marriage but never could; remembers how many times she condemned her mother for not ending her marriage. The times when she looked at the picture and screamed inside: “liars.” She hears her mother talking to her kids. She looks at her from a distance; say an inaudible “I’m sorry.” Like her mother, she isn’t ready.

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