She sits on the steps staring into the woods oblivious to the cicadas wailing like sirens. Cigarette in one hand and a beer in the other, she takes a drag and a drink. She surveys the freshly cut grass, looking for anything out of place, ready to right it like a mother who licks her hand to smooth a child’s hair back in place. There is nothing out of order here - even the marigolds stand at attention, obedient and unswerving. She stubs out her cigarette, finishes the beer that has grown tepid and walks into the house. She goes to the bedroom closet and reaches into the very back to pull out the garment bag. She drapes it over her arm and the plastic sticks to the sweat on her skin, pulling at her as she carries it to the garage. She lays the bag across the hood of the car and goes to the shelf with the four boxes that hold fifty five years of memories. She opens the smallest box, the one marked “WEDDING”, and sifts carefully through the layers of newspaper until she finds what she’s looking for - the cake topper and champagne flutes. She hasn’t seen them in 20 years, not since she packed them away for her daughter. She thought they would hold meaning for her daughter. Not now. Reality comes in flashes. There will be no wedding. No husband. No grandchildren. She could cry but she is miserly with her tears and she’s given too many to her daughter. She is done with tears, done with screaming. No. Tonight will be different. She forcefully shoves the keepsakes back in the box, grabs the garment bag and a can of lighter fluid and marches out to the driveway. She takes the glasses from the box. There will be no toasts to the future tonight. She shatters them one by one on the concrete, each broken glass a swallowed scream, a “fuck you” she won’t say. She pours lighter fluid into the box that held so many expectations. She strikes a match, lights a cigarette and inhales deeply before tossing the match in without hesitation. The flames quickly consume the plastic bride and groom and she exhales, fanning the fire with her own smoke and rage. She unzips the garment bag and takes out the white wedding dress that she had saved for her daughter. Love is conditional. Her daughter never understood this but she will now. She will teach her. It’s not too late. She takes one last look at the dress and drops it in the fire. She flicks her cigarette into the rising flames, grits her teeth and watches her memories and dreams mingle and burn. Regrets will come later but tonight is a victory and she feels only righteousness as the embers carry her fury into the night sky.