Excerpt from The Biographies of Ordinary People, by Nicole Dieker

Summer 1989

Natalie wore a red-and-white checked dress with strawberry buttons, and she could feel the ends of her hair brush her chin. She held on to Mommy’s purse with one hand as Mommy pushed the stroller and Meredith walked a few steps ahead, in her dress that was blue.

Yesterday Mommy had given them afternoon baths and then asked them to go out on the front porch and sit still while she cut their wet hair. She asked them not to put their feet near the broken part of the step because Daddy hadn’t fixed it yet. Then Mommy put one knee on each side of Natalie to hold her in place as she cut and combed and cut again, and pulled Natalie’s hair straight with her fingers to make sure it was even.

They all had just-alike hair now, all new-school just-alike hair and different colored barrettes that had come from the same package. Natalie’s barrettes were red, and Meredith’s was blue, and Jackie’s was yellow. Mommy had let them toss the old hair in the yard, for the birds. Meredith had not been happy.

Now they were going to school for Orientation. They were close enough that Natalie could see the tent. She had never seen a school with a tent before. When they lived in Portland, she had gone to preschool.

They stopped at the crosswalk and looked up and down the empty street for cars, because Rosemary knew you had to do it every time or one of her girls would forget, when they were older. Read the rest

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