“As the assistant, I was dressed in a gold bathing suit and red high heels. My mother wore a black pantsuit with a bow tie and a top hat. Her cape billowed behind her when she moved. She said a real magician would never be caught dead in a bathing suit, but I was seventeen and capable of handling indignity. After the fire trick, she made a quarter vanish and reappear from my cleavage. I liked having her close to me onstage. I could see the mascara crusted on her eyelashes and smell the gel that kept her blond hair shellacked under her hat. When I noticed her lips cracking beneath her red lipstick, I knew she wasn’t drinking enough water. When her pupils looked swollen, I knew she wasn’t getting enough sleep. When one man starting chanting Kiss! and my mother threw out a smile—fast, wide, full of teeth—I knew she was wishing him terrible things.”
Laura van den Berg, “The Greatest Escape”

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