I waited my turn, and when I reached her, her rheumy blue eyes widened with surprise and her mouth formed a perfect O and then turned up in a smile. She gestured impatiently, and my cousins, Tasha and Liza, helped her out of her wheelchair. She stood shakily and took in the sight of me, tears filling her eyes. She stretched a tentative hand and patted my cheek. “Oh Rita, dear angel, thank you for being here. I’ve been waiting all these years, praying you’d come back. I was so frightened I’d die without ever laying eyes on you again.”

She touched my hair. “Look at you, just as beautiful as ever, but what have you done to your lovely hair?”

I smiled. “It was a nuisance so I cut it off.”

She patted my hand. “Well, it’s becoming and I’m glad you did. You wanted to cut it for your coming-out party and oh what a fight we had. Do you remember that?”

I shook my head. “Not a bit of it.”

“Doesn’t matter now. You’re perfect as you are.”

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She held on to me as she searched, confused, among the guests nearby. “I don’t see your little girl. What happened to her?”

“Kinsey? She’s all grown up now,” I said.

“I imagine so. What a little slip of a thing she was. I’ve saved some trinkets of yours I want her to have. Do you think she’d ever come visit me? It would make me so happy.”

I put my hand over hers. “It wouldn’t surprise me if she did.”

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