Blood-Red Bougainvillea – new Sunday essay in the Rumpus

I imagined my Gammie on the other end of the phone, her grey hair piled into a bun, a red silk scarf tied around it, her red-manicured nails clutching a Vodka tonic. Her skin was slightly darker than the rest of the women in our family, so she always joked about the milkman. “I can’t stand it,” she sighed now. “I’m the last Democrat in Orange County.”

I held the receiver away from my mouth so my Gammie wouldn’t hear the inhale and exhale of my cigarette.

“Darling,” she said. “You’re doing a marvelous job–as well as anyone could do–but children need fathers, don’t you agree?”

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