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 writer from Riverdale, New York. She earned her BA in English from Indiana University and graduated from Florida Atlantic University’s MFA program in Creative Writing. She teaches General Education at AMDA College and Conservatory of the Performing Arts in Hollywood, CA. She was the 2017 Nonfiction Award Winner for Red Hen Press, as well as the AWP Intro Journals Project Award Nominee in 2015. Her work has been featured in Electric Literature, Jewish Book Council, Lit Hub, Entropy, The Los Angeles Review, No Tokens, Hobart, Cosmonauts Ave, and more. Her first collection of essays entitled The Perpetual Motion Machine was published with Red Hen Press in 2018, and her debut novel The Brittanys is out now with Vintage.