It was family picture day. The day when Momma chain smoked at the breakfast table ruining the scrambled eggs, French toast, and Poppa’s mood. The day when she forced me and my sister to wear frilly dresses and braid our hairs. The day when she paid more attention to us than to Poppa and talked to us and made us feel beautiful. The day when Poppa tried to hide in his office to avoid Momma’s insisting that he not wear his usual t-shirts and actually get dressed up today for the sake of the family.
The day when we would smile for so long that our cheeks hurt. I would pinch my sister’s cheeks and she would pinch mine and the pain only got worse. The photographer would yell encouraging words to us as though we were his fashion models.
We would go home from the photo place, tired and worn out, eating Italian Ices, unable to ignore the silence in the car. Momma would grab another cigarette from her bag and Poppa would tell her not to smoke in the car. We would finally reach home and me and my sister would run to our room, turning up the music so that we wouldn’t hear them arguing.