Karen Walker | Betty’s Breasts after Franklin’s Funeral

Even when sharp in a 1960s bullet bra, Betty never got her point across when Franklin’s hand would wander from the steering wheel to the passenger seat and squeeze, squeeze her breasts. 

Betty would say, “People can see.” And, when the daughter was born, “She’s in the backseat, Franklin!”

Mourners come back to the house after his funeral. They hold watery cups of tea. They make sympathetic sounds and lay hands on Betty’s shoulders as she sits dry-eyed in the living room. The straps of her bra slide down her arms. 

In the kitchen, the daughter rubs like a too-tight band. “Don’t tell me you have only one tea cosy?”

Betty bolts from the living room and slams the bathroom door. Gone to have a moment, to adjust her expectations about the future. Can she keep the house? To adjust her bra. Find the straps down the sleeves of her black silk blouse and, like proverbial bootstraps, haul them up?

No. Off comes the bra. Betty’s long breasts are free. She finally cries about Franklin.

Mourners don’t know where to look when Betty returns to the living room dabbing her eyes and swinging in her shirt. There’s a sudden chill. Everyone piles their teacups in the kitchen sink, hurry to the front door. Betty’s breasts wave goodbye from the front porch.

Two days after the funeral and the bra, the daughter knocks once on Betty’s door. In she then walks and hollers, “I’m taking you to lunch!” although the breasts are comfy in a housecoat and Betty is busy with thank you cards. On the cards, a beautiful dove takes flight.

Betty is driven away in Franklin’s old car for a Wednesday senior’s special: choice of chicken salad or tomato soup, lemonade or coffee, and a seasonal fruit cup. The daughter’s hand wanders from the steering wheel to the passenger seat. There, she pats Betty’s breasts. “Gotta get you a bra first. You need support.” Pats them like they’re old pets.

Hard—hard enough to hurt, to leave a red mark—Betty slaps and snaps, “Stop it!”

The daughter has Franklin’s eyes. They’re now rounder than his ever were, Betty having gotten her point across. They dart around the restaurant. “People can see.” The daughter can’t eat her Salmon Wellington. “They can tell you don’t have a bra.” She wants to take Betty home. “What’s wrong with you?”

Nothing. Betty refuses to leave and, sniffing at the sad senior special, orders a martini and two pricey desserts for the girls.

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