art by Jeffrey Redmond
Bone and Ash and Butterflies
by Julia Rios
"How do you create a memory? With craft and skill, and the right supplies, anyone can learn." Rena smiled, panning her head from one side of the room to the other, catching every client's eyes along the way.
The first spread was on vacations. "A little sand, some colorful papers, and a whimsical plastic flip-flop make this piece really shine." Rena pointed to the happy couple, hands entwined as they strolled along a beach at sunset. "Yes, you too can have this experience. It's not as expensive as you might think."
She turned the page: a wedding. After that, a birthday, an A+ report card, and a beloved pet. The class lined up to empty their wallets, and Rena spent the next two hours helping them arrange their spreads.
Only one did nothing. She was a mousy blonde with an overbite, and a sweater three sizes too large. She should have been the perfect mark. Rena stood beside her table and set the demo book down. "Nothing to tempt you, dear?"
The client shook her head, mute.
Rena patted the demo book. "I'll leave this here for you. Just in case."
When the class wrapped up, everyone packed their pages away, and Rena saw them out one by one. Half were already repeat customers. The other half would be soon.
The mousy blonde stayed behind.
Rena picked up the leftover scraps: paper, ribbons, and glitter scattered everywhere. The inevitable detritus of wishes.
"Something I can help you with?" Rena didn't look up when she asked. She'd seen this type before, the shy ones. They wanted coaxing, but too much scared them right off.
A rustle. A clearing of the throat.
"I want to bring my mother back."
Rena's hands went still, inches above the waste bin. Not another one.