A Storyby Jill McCorkle
Ann has not been back to her childhood home in over two years, not since the death of her father, but her brother, Jimmy, has updated her on all the changes he and his new wife have made. Ann has not met the new wife but could tell from the pictures Jimmy sent at Christmas that she looks a lot like the ones before her: short, blond, young, some pedigree or another Jimmy will find worth telling. Ann’s luck with lasting relationships has been just as bad as his, the difference being she hasn’t married all of her boyfriends. “That’s because I’m honorable,” he said during his last divorce when she pointed this out. “Or stupid,” she responded, falling into the sarcastic sparring that had long ago become their way of communicating. Her first and only wedding ring was then in place on a finger she hoped might someday plump around it, claiming permanence, as she’d once admired on an older neighbor who, after forty years, couldn’t get hers over her knuckle. The trapped ring reminded Ann of a photograph she once saw, a tree grown around and embracing a tombstone, both recognizable for what they were and yet now joined and inseparable in the most natural way. But now she is returning, postdivorce, to collect Jimmy’s I told you so in person or maybe to see if she can return. Call it tired of running. Call it an exorcism.