Tatiana's Wedding

  Excerpt

Delfina's mother had told her that her name was supposed to sound Italian, and Josefina had been Polish, so Delfina, despite her great affection for Eva and her jubiliation at the thought that Laura had managed to get the best of Nani even just that once, had felt oblliged to discard her aunt's speculations about her name.

All etymologies aside, Delfina had always endeavored to live up to the exoticism of her name as best she could. It seemed to demand a striking physical presence to accompany it, and the creation of such a persona had been the central task of Delfina's efforts toward personal development. Her weapon of choice in this ongoing battle was clothing. Her mother had favored vibrant colors, shiny fabrics and quantities of beads and bracelets greater than those one might require for personal adornment, and Delfina often tried to convince herself that she had inherited her preferences for extravagant dress from Laura. It was one of the few concrete parallels she could find between herself and her mother. 

Her intelligence, however, was too acute to permit her to entertain this possibility for long. She knew that her mother's beatnik clothing had merely served to reveal physical characteristics that would have undoubtedly attracted the attention of men (and of women, for that matter) without the slightest effort on her part. Laura's dark hair, so thick it hung down her back like a satin blanket, the full mouth that opened in laughter to reveal perfectly straight teeth, her gracefully proportioned body, the skin that tanned easily under the slightest touch of the sun. Laura hadn't needed beads to get attention.

And she still didn't.  Laura had been dead for more than twenty years, but that didn't stop men from falling in love with her photograph. Saadia had advised Delfina hundreds of times that the photograph was bad for her, damaging to her self-esteem, that it made Delfina put thoughts into her lovers' heads that might never have been there in the first place. The photo was a convenient locus for all of Delfina's transferences. By means of the photograph, Saadia concluded triumphantly, Delfina felt justified in sabotaging her relationships to the point that the men broke up with her, instead of her having to do the dirty work herself. Then, Saadia added, Delfina could blame Laura's picture for her failures at relationships, and she herself would be entirely off the hook. Perhaps she should get rid of that photograph, or at least hide it away in a drawer, but Delfina knew what she had seen, and it definitely wasn't a product of her imagination, or her transferences.