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    David Vann

    11. Rhoda

    By David Vann

    When I first saw my stepmother, I thought she was winking at me. I winked back. But she only frowned, and her right eyelid never lifted. She was wearing a yellow wedding dress, with no veil or train, and had turned to see me just as I was passing the front row of pews, carrying the wedding rings on a small velvet pillow. I don’t believe I so much as glanced at my father. I saw only this new woman whom my father had hidden away until now from everyone, who had dark, dark hair, pale skin, and a dropped eyelid that, on closer view, made her terribly beautiful.

    My new stepmother, Rhoda, untied the ring for my father with thin white fingers. I looked up again at that blank eye, drawn to it—it was open slightly—and realized too late that she was watching me. Her other eye was brown and shiny. She laughed out loud, right there in the middle of the service in front of everyone, at the same moment that she was slipping my father’s ring onto his finger. Her laughter startled all of us, but especially my father, who looked around as though it had come from somewhere else in the church. His mouth opened slightly as he looked up, and for the first time in my life, I saw him frightened.

    At the reception, Rhoda ate carefully, cutting her food into tiny squares. . . . Read More.


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