Lucile wore a light dusting of clay over well-worn gray khaki pants, frayed at the bottom. Her shirt appeared to be gray but it was a navy Henley shirt her mother brought home from a garage sale when she was in junior high. It was too big for her and so she saved it for dirty-clothes wear. When she left home to a small liberal arts college in Iowa, she took the battered oversized navy shirt with her and packed away other mementos in her father’s cobwebbed basement, including her shrink-wrapped yearbook and a dime-store promise ring Gary Webb gave to her during prom.
Gary said he was going to get a cola at the grad night party, and said he would get her one too, if she wanted, but she didn’t, but a lemon-lime soda would be better, thanks. She waited for 10 minutes, making polite chitchat with people who she was fairly sure she’d never see again after that night. 10 more minutes, 25 minutes, 45 minutes—Lucile walked home alone in her sister’s dilapidated red party shoes, the heels poking a long trail of holes in the dirt.
The shirt survived four years of sleepy Midwest life, sniffling of dry winds, fresh corn, and farm insurance. Lucile left with her navy shirt and an uninspiring portfolio and left for a milder climate in California after dreaming about Abercrombie models for a week nonstop.