A few months after our father left, my brother started practicing magic. He hid handkerchiefs up his sleeve. He pretended to poke his thumb with a straight pin. When our mother got the first alimony check she let him buy whatever he wanted: rope, hat, wand that he waved around, trying to make everything like it was before. Our mother would not let him saw her in half, however. She held herself around the middle as if someone already had.
“Once is enough,” she said.
Paul Crenshaw’s essay collection This One Will Hurt You is forthcoming from The Ohio State University Press. Other work has appeared in Best American Essays, Best American Nonrequired Reading, The Pushcart Prize, anthologies by W.W. Norton and Houghton Mifflin, Oxford American, Glimmer Train, Ecotone, North American Review and Brevity, among others.
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