Little George loved Granny Gert’s dresses and Granny Gert loved little George and so did I. I am Cousin Sam. Kissing cousin. Twice removed.
That’s how they talked about family. First and second and step and half. Removed.
George and I wore old lace from Granny Gert’s days in England, taffeta from Persia and calico prints from India. The gowns and petticoats torn by our little girlboy hands when we pulled them over our sweaty heads. She did not care. Time, she told us, wore them thin. We spun around and around in tatters and shreds, wearing time wearing it thin.
Granny Gert told stories of ballrooms full of princes and princesses, kings and queens. Her old world was grand.
Our new world is small. California barely a state.
They said Granny Gert was old not right in the head.
Their heads were wrong. How else to explain?
They took George down to the San Lorenzo after a big storm when the river was full of the ocean and they held him down. Granny Gert’s calico swelled like a bruise around him.
They held him down filled his face with saltwater and sand and told him to be a man. The minister held him down. Our teacher held him down. The bartender held him down. Even our neighbors held him down watched him fill with ebb and flow.
I flew from the cliff on taffeta wings and raised him up. I raised him up and we danced.