She had heard of a projectionist in the south, a man capable of rendering dream images on silk stretched taut as her own hymen. She had heard of her own hymen. When it broke, would the pain be bearable? The gown was over her head, her head popping through the neck cut perfectly for her proportions. The gown was not white but the mild, creamy yellow of cream from cows on Spring pasture. Her questions made her face burn. It was something her would-be husband had praised — the bright color of youth in her cheeks. But the color was from questions, not youth. Her husband was an idiot. Where was the projectionist’s screen?

Her cousins, all of them, were pulling her gown over her head. She wished she could walk down the aisle wearing a suitcase, a hand basket, and a thick canvas sack. Flimsiness had become fashionable in clothing, but luggage was still built well.

“There is one more certainty,” she said. Nobody was listening. Suddenly she understood that just to disturb and distort the air with one’s breath, to cause it to eddy in invisible currents near the unlisteners’ ears, was to have possibly the greatest effect one person on earth could have.

Her cousins were dressing themselves now, laughing and pulling dollops of spring cream down over their heads, like dessert strawberries. If their cheeks were red it was from youth, not questions; youth is the opposite of questions, she thought. The man she was marrying was easily deceived, like all happy people. She felt an urge to punish him, and an equal urge not to waste her own strength to do so. She would punish him with his own ignorance, by disturbing and distorting the air with her breath.

Her father had given her a map, pleated so that it opened, he told her, like a woman. But how did a woman open? Not like a map.

“The world, which is round, and therefore continually in conversation with itself — ”

The door of the dressing room opened. The man who opened it was her father. He was there to walk her to the altar. She forgot the final certainty as he reached out and grasped her by her own hand. Her hand was so small! It was so small because she was so young. He hoped that man, the husband, appreciated what he was giving away. Likely he would not have another daughter. At least, not one as young as this.

Evelyn Hampton’s Famous Children and Famished Adults, her second full-length fiction collection, won the Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Contest and is forthcoming from FC2 in Spring 2019. Discomfort, her first collection, was published in 2015 by Ellipsis Press. Publishing Genius Press published a long essay as a chapbook in June 2017. Her recent work appears in Catapult, The Elephants, and Fanzine. In 2015, her submission won Beecher’s magazine fiction prize, and in 2013, her story was chosen for the Black Warrior Review fiction prize. She has ghostwritten a book; she has also written for Utne Reader, HTML Giant, New York Tyrant, BOMB Magazine, and other venues. She has a degree from the Literary Arts Program at Brown University and will soon be a PhD candidate at the University of Denver. On her website, www.lispservice.com, you’ll find more information about her, including a bibliography of her published writing.

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