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Wedding in Acapulco, 1983

Notice how they stand in the background of an old family photograph. How they all wear white. How they cloak their bodies in the pallor, fade like a troupe of ghosts.

Remember how they started disappearing. How your tío went first, drank himself to death. How he was found belly-up in a bathtub. Mouth blue. Stomach bloated like a fish. How your other tío shot himself in the head. How your tía had to clean up his blood and bits of his brain because it was her mess to deal with—her words, not yours. How your bisabuelo followed, but peacefully. In his sleep. How your favorite tío just flat-out disappeared and no one knew how to take it. How your father disappeared, too, though your tías had been warning Mamá for years. How it went on this way until, all at once, they were gone. How you kinda liked them until they were gone. How, now that they’re gone, you’re the last one remaining. Just you and the women.

Ask yourself: Did one of your tías, once upon a time, sell her soul to the devil? To be loved right? To be remembered? And, if she’s the reason for the curse that’s plagued your family, can you really blame her?

Consider your habits. Your history. Your curse. How easily you could fade into the background of a family photograph. How easily you could disappear.

Patricia Patterson is a Mexican-American writer and editor based in Central North Carolina. Her work appears or is forthcoming in PANK, Pithead Chapel, wildness, and elsewhere. When Patricia is not writing or crafting, she enjoys hanging out with some of her most loyal companions: the birds.

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