Brenda Diana Duff Frazier, 1938 Debutante of the Year, At Home, 1966
after the photograph by Diane Arbus
Do you have a light, honey? If I don’t get
a cigarette soon, I might pass out. I know,
I know, they’re downright nasty, but
it’s a nervous habit, been doing it ever since
she made me put on that god awful dress
and smile for all the pretty little rich boys
with their over-gelled hair and ugly sport
coats, looking for a wife who’ll treat them
like a child. I don’t honestly know
what she was thinking, my mother, when
she sent me down that spiral staircase.
I was sick as a dog that afternoon, but
she gave me two sips of brandy and said
that if I had to throw up, I’d better make
sure no one was around to watch. I was a wreck,
and have been ever since, it’s all the smoke, I think,
it’s fried my brain. I don’t think I’m gonna have
a cigarette after all. It’s really nothing, I’m just so tired,
honey, and it’s been so long since my mother let me sleep.
Neva Ensminger-Holland is a recent graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy, and is an incoming freshman at the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland. She is a YoungArts award winner and an American Voices nominee in the Scholastic Art and Writing Competition. Her work is published or forthcoming in the Interlochen Review, The Albion Review, and the YoungArts anthology. In her free time, she enjoys wearing ripped tights in the winter, watching Gilmore Girls with her roommate, and hot-gluing the straps back on her platform Mary-Janes.