Spitting Image

I’m two, being paraded around to the out-of-town family. My face is hot as people I’ve never met tell me how excited they are to finally meet me. I cling to my father’s side, staring at the strange face in front of me.

“You are just the cutest thing. Oh, you look just like your father.”

*

I’m eight, rifling through a box of family photos with my grandmother. I stare amazed at the black, white and sepia images I discover, the names of people I’ve only heard about in old family fables scrawled on the backs. I pull a more recent-looking picture out of the box and see my baby face staring back at me. I pass it to my grandmother.

“Ah, I love this picture of your daddy. You looked just like him when you were that age. I think it’s those big brown eyes y’all have.”

*

I’m fourteen, sitting on the warm grass lawn of the amphitheater. I’ve given Dad the first birthday present I’ve been able to by him straight out of my own pocket: tickets to a Journey concert. We lean together and smile, looking towards the camera phone currently being pointed at us by a kind stranger.

“That’s a great one! Do people ever tell you guys that you look just alike?”

*

I’m seventeen, sitting in the front pew of the funeral home, where the family sits. Pictures of my father and I are positioned next to the flowers at the front, creating an arc of color around the black and red urn. I expect more tears, but I seem to be all out. As Kenny Rogers plays around us, the people in the other pews are encouraged to stand, stopping to offer their condolences to those in the family seats before filing out the door to our right. One of Dad’s friends from high school grabs my hands tightly. They are damp. She places her palms on both of my cheeks, bring her red face up to mine, new tears springing from her eyes.

“My god, you really are the spitting image.”

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