Story — From the March 2014 issue

The Toast

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Last week I received, via Priority Mail, a card inviting me to a wedding that I’d very much like to attend. After eighteen years of partnership, the card said, Ms. Leala Kroger, Esq. — my older sister — and Mr. Mattathias Williams, Esq. — my older sister’s boyfriend — were getting married on the island of Oahu. Two days after the card arrived, my sister called from her Colorado mountain home and said that she wanted to tell me herself that she and her partner-in-life, best friend, and the father of her six- and eight-year-old daughters were getting married in Hawaii in the second week of May 2014, and that in order to attend the wedding I would need to reserve a room this week using the code krogerwilliams2014, and I said, “Wonderful.”

The wedding, my sister said, would not be fancy. However, there would be a hair-metal band, a five-course local organic vegan dinner, and a life-size fair-trade chocolate baby elephant. I’m afraid that my sister went on explaining details about the wedding, and I stopped listening; this is because I caught Lyme disease five years ago and have neurological damage that makes it difficult for me to listen when people talk, especially when what they’re saying isn’t interesting.

It was an eighty-degree November evening in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and I was sitting at my oak desk in my attic apartment. I had a nice apartment. One room, true, and in an attic; but cozy. The window looked over the owner’s garden. I was fond of its wide orange floorboards and the mice that pattered out from beneath my futon whenever I ate buttered crackers. On my desk was the stack of student stories that I needed to read for the next day, and next to them was a letter from a collection agency.

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is the author of Twenty Grand and Other Tales of Love and Money (Harper Perennial). Her essay “Herbal Remedies” appeared in the August 2013 issue of Harper’s Magazine.

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  • Kang Sheng

    Interesting extended allusion to Salinger’s “To Esme with Love and Squalor”.

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