Molly Guinn Bradley

We would all be the right balance of thin and fit, simple and beautiful, and our eyelashes would never clump and our faces would never be greasy, even in the extreme humidity of places like Nashville and Houston and New York in August, and our feet wouldn’t smell when we took off our shoes, so we wouldn’t have to wonder if it was our feet or someone else’s or whether we should just apologize preemptively, and it would all make it so much easier to hug our families in earnest, with sure grasps. We would ask, genuinely, really wanting to know, how we all were, what we were all up to these days, whether we were all achieving at least satisfying compromises in place of our hopes and dreams, or whether we were all achieving the success we’d wanted, though, of course, we were.

Someone would have prepared some kind of summery lemonadey alcoholic beverage, and no one wouldn’t drink it because no one would have ever had problems with alcohol that would lead them to have to not drink, and this would really just be a matter of convenience in terms of the making of the summery lemonadey beverage in that we could just add the alcohol right in rather than keeping separate the components of it, so we wouldn’t have to call the non-alcoholic drink mix a “mocktail” and embarrass any of us with problems with alcohol, who couldn’t drink the alcoholic version. We would take our drinks out onto the porch and we would sit around and no one would feel sensitive about being herded over to the big sturdy chairs instead of the cute dainty porch swings, because none of us would be a little or a lot overweight (thin and fit, recall).

We would chat late into the night and no one would have to slap mosquitoes away as we chatted because one of us would have gone into engineering and invented some great gadget that kept mosquitoes out of the yard, or otherwise at the very least someone would have remembered to light the citronella torches. As it grew later, we would all rest our faces in our palms and we’d look around at one another and admire the glows of all our faces and feel our own faces glow and think, Well, this is it, isn’t it? This is it, and it’s better than I’d dreamed, or, at the very least, just as good.

When it was time for us to go up to bed, we would need to use a few air mattresses, but they would be the nice ones that felt like real beds, because we would have been responsible enough about money that we could mindlessly and automatically do things like buy the nice air mattresses and stock top-shelf alcohols and not have any debt and tell our children we weren’t increasing their allowances in the interest of building their characters and not because we couldn’t afford to. We would cram these air mattresses into whatever rooms we could, laughing as we joined single family members in rooms with couples, who wouldn’t be annoyed but would instead laugh with us as we reflected on the sleepovers from childhood, and relish the opportunity to sort of relive them. We’d blow up the air mattresses and we wouldn’t resent doing it because we were just glad everyone was able to come, everyone was here with us, here we all were, no one had been very sick during the time we’d blocked out for the reunion, and we’d never lost anyone to any terminal diseases, and we’d never stopped planning our family reunions because it was too sad to get together without those we’d lost to terminal diseases, or when we did plan them we didn’t fall into discordant silences thinking about how much easier, how much better, how much more something it would have been if we’d still had everyone still with us, if we hadn’t had to deal with hard things like terminal diseases, if we hadn’t ever had to bite our lips and hide our anger and channel a lifetime’s worth of frustration into ineffective distractions like prayer and tai chi and deep breaths and lawnmowing.

And when we slept no one would snore, or if they did it would be the kind of thing that was endearing rather than the kind of thing that, in concert with other sort of vaguely gross and undeniably human bodily phenomena, led to a dull but ever-throbbing combo-resentment-fascination that only got uglier as it brought us more and more shame for inadvertently shaming other human beings for things that we, too, did do.

And in fact we would never find our bodies, or anyone else’s, anything but fascinating and beautiful. Year by year, reunion by reunion, we would remain thin, and fit, and free of odor. We would never develop wrinkles; our minds would stay sharp; we would never become heavy, or tired, or slow. Year after year, we would count on this. We would insist, and so it would be.

Molly Guinn Bradley is a writer and editor living in Brooklyn and an alumna of Oberlin College and Columbia Teachers College. Her work has appeared in The Toast, Splitsider, The Equals Record, and Potluck Mag.