Hear and Do
by Brittany Ackerman
It was a wedding, my cousin’s wedding. He was marrying a girl he knew for nine years. He proposed in Disney World at Cinderella’s Castle. The ring came to her in a glass slipper. I was a bridesmaid. All the bridesmaids had their makeup done like parrots. I wore a magenta dress and orange eye shadow. My brother was there, and his girlfriend Kay, and I watched him eat macaroni and cheese off an hors d’oeuvre spoon, his eyes closed, opened, closed again, then opened less wide than before. Something was happening to him, and Kay grabbed a microphone and sang, “...they were young, and they had each other, who could ask for more?” She threw her white curls back and gyrated. I ate chocolate covered strawberries, one after another, and sucked the chocolate down and left the red berry dry. I thought about God, how if he was real, why was he letting my brother live this way, still, anymore, at all? I wanted answers, but I wasn’t Jewish enough to conjure a parable, make use of a prayer and adapt meaning to my suffering. Later, I would move to California, not once, but twice, and the second time I’d live out in Pasadena and hike the Bridge to Nowhere, part of the San Gabriel Mountains. I’d hike alone, even though my mother begged me not to. But it was then I learned how to pray, how to ask the earth for something, how to live off water.
Brittany Ackerman is a graduate of Florida Atlantic University's MFA program in Creative Writing. In 2016 she completed a residency at the Wellstone Center in the Redwoods, as well as the Mont Blanc Workshop in Chamonix, France under the instruction of Alan Heathcock. She recently attended the Writing by Writers Methow Valley Workshop in May of 2017 under the leadership of Ross Gay. She currently lives in Los Angeles with her forthcoming collection of essays entitled The Perpetual Motion Machine to be released by Red Hen Press in the fall of 2018.