by Rebecca Hendricks
Aunt Geri wasn’t actually related to us. She had a place north of the city, and I’d get shipped off there in the summer. We made apple butter, which was mostly apple, and peanut butter, which somehow involved margarine. She made me go to church, which I hated. She made me do chores. She was practical. She had a tractor. And two of her fingers were missing, cut off at the knuckle.
I stopped going. Years went by. Then she died, and my cousins and I went to the funeral, and they played her favorite song. Onward Christian soldier, marching off to war…
Later, an envelope arrived in the mail, with a note from Jane. Jane was Aunt Geri’s old friend and roommate. Jane had been Aunt Geri’s student when they were younger. Jane had been something more, also.
The note said, “Geri would want you to have these things.” The little jewelry pieces glittered in the folded paper. We each picked something. I held mine pressed into my palm and cried.
So now I’m here, standing naked in the doorway, looking at you in all your glory leaning against the scratched-up kitchen counter. The place still smells like sex, tinged with licorice from our slow shots of ice-cold ouzo, celebrating our… everything. Opa! And I hold out Aunt Geri’s slender gold ring with the single gem that is, I’d discovered, a diamond. I ask if you will marry me.
Surprised, you grin. Your eyes sparkle. And you say yes.