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"Ghost Family Portrait" by Christina Delia 

Christina Delia is a freelance writer with work appearing in The Glut, Happy Woman Magazine, Juked, Opium, Poor Mojos Almanac(k), Somewhat and Yankee Pot Roast.  She lives in New Jersey. 


© 2004 Christina Delia


     "Kudos to the heathen who invented the camera," says Barbara Lee. "It's one way to keep Granny out of the rec room, and all she does is rock, anyway."


     Granny used to say that the camera steals immortal souls like no other. Barbara Lee is starting to take Photography classes at the community college. Rubbing it in to Granny like peppermint ointment. All Granny does is rock. There is a splinter from the chair visible in her leg, but part of the leg is wooden, anyway, so I figure the splinter is in good company.


     It's hard having people over with Granny sitting there watching. I have to explain to the guys that Granny has had a stroke, and not the genius kind. Not to say that she's dumb, but she's not keen like she used to be.


     I have this memory of Granny where I'm seventeen years old (shy of eighteen and shy in general!) Granny tells me, "Claire, none of this matters where God exists, but God sure don't exist here." That stuck with me for awhile, and especially when I let my first guy have his way. He was older than me, closer to Granny's age, but she told me to go with it. "Man with a nice suit, makes a girl's situation pretty suitable."


     Granny was never formally educated, so I suppose Barbara Lee's interest in college really might have been getting back at her. I always thought Granny was smart as could be, but more like one of those Renaissance Women you read about in the Encyclopedia. Well, now we don't even need the Encyclopedia, we have the Internet hook-up in the rec room. Granny sits and rocks while Barbara Lee and Tabitha flirt with the guys, and I look up whatever comes to mind. Crustaceans, if I'm in the mood for seafood. Skywriting services. Sometimes I like to pretend that I'm living at the beach, like those bumper stickers tell us to.


     Last week Barbara Lee took a picture of a guy's penis for her photo anatomy project. I've never seen Granny so livid since before her stroke! She just sat there, calm-bodied, but with bug-eyes. Like her thoughts were being electrocuted. Then Omaha, who is like Granny's caretaker when she isn't working with us comes in from her guy and says, "This is not how we treat paying customers, Barbara Lee." And Barbara Lee snatches up the cash the guy gave her, waves it at him and sneers, "Well put away your wad, Sir, and I'll put away mine." Then she pockets the loot and she's off, camera and all, faster than her clinch lasted. Faster than the guy can pull up his pants.


     Barbara Lee likes to do her business in the rec room, right in front of Granny if she's rocking. She says if it's just business she should be able to do it anywhere, like chain coffee shops and supermarkets and all. For some reason, she always gets the guys who don't complain. I call them guys, 'cause "johns" sounds creepy. I have a brother named John somewhere.


     We've been living like this for awhile, and I don't see the need to change. The Internet changes every day, but according to the Internet, this is the world's oldest profession. So far as I'm concerned, you don't doctor a good thing.







All work is copyrighted property of Christina Delia.






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