The Wedding Fee

by on December 26, 2020 :: 0 comments

photo "Drapes and Forever and Little Things" by Tyler Malone

“It was an Appelt.”


“Its sale covered the fees for: the hall, my dress, and the caterer.”

“Not parsing.”

“I found it when cleaning out my grandma’s storage room.”


“I was looking for vintage and found expensive art.”


“You and I took Art Appreciation, together, sophomore year.”

“We also toked together and we each also slept, without telling the other, with Brad Tymps.”

“Did you get herpes, too?”

“Don’t ask.”

“Anyway, before I took it to Good Will, but weeks after I took it to my apartment, my brain unarchived our fifth week of Art Appreciation.”


“Appelt. Late Twentieth Century. More known for children’s books. Won a Newberry for The Underneath. Eventually, Sotheby’s racked up major profit on it. There are very few of her paintings that have gone public.”

“Oh. So why did your granny have it?”

“I’ll have to ask.”

“Kidding me, Mom?”

“Nope. Selma was downsizing from a home with four bathrooms and six bedrooms to an apartment with more typical space.”

“Why not upgrade to a McMansion?”

“Age. Responsibilities. Maybe also finances.”

“Go on.”

“Pass the honey. My tea’s bitter. Thanks. Not only was Great Aunt Selma Granny’s sister, but she was also Kathi Appelt’s friend.”

“Kathi gave her the painting and she, in turn, gave it to Granny?”

“Seems that way.”

“Why did Granny load it into a box and leave it there?”

“Selma had wanted that painting to decorate my nursery. She had given Granny some hand-me-down stuffed animals, for me, too.”


“Granny was the best mom. She was also scatterbrained.”

“She never unpacked the box?”

“Nope. Talked about it a lot, especially on days when I was in bed with the flu or sidelined by broken bones.”

“You? You’re so unexciting.”

“Such a compliment! You’ll have to try harder to get removed from my will, though. Didn’t you know I was a tomboy?”

“No. Just knew you were that “pretty nerd” Daddy wanted to marry.”

“You’re back in my favor. Stay there. I was an athletic, adventurous girl. I was also a snoop who grasped the whereabouts of family “treasures.” I had no idea, though, that the painting was so precious.

“Mad I took it?”

“Nope. I meant it when I said help yourself. What was I supposed to do with all of those castoffs? Besides, I can’t miss things I never used. I’m glad the painting was costly enough to pay for most of your wedding. I hadn’t wanted to remortgage our house.”

“What? You never told me.”

“Never asked.”

“Was Great Aunt Selma happy in her new apartment? Did she see Kathi Appelt a lot after she moved there?”

“She died six weeks after moving. My cousins sorted through her things soon after burying her since to pay the funeral parlor they had to sell her new place.”

“The painting…”

“And the soft-filled animals, some seashells, and some other jumble had already been given to my mother, your grandma.”

“So, your grandma knew Kathi Appelt?!”

“You’re not paying attention. My gran’s sister knew her. The painting was passed from my great aunt to my gran.”

“But your granny kept it in a box. Why? Art’s supposed to be enjoyed.”

“Says the girl with two dozen pairs of ill-fitting shoes stashed under her bed.”

“Fair enough.”

“Poor Mom, not only did her nursery remain undecorated, but the only stuffed animal she ever had was Mr. Moe.”


“That dilapidated platypus she keeps on a high shelf in her home office and refuses to let anyone touch.”

“It’s that old? Sheesh! So why did your mom let you keep the painting after you found out its worth?”

“She doesn’t take back gifts. Also, she was worried about covering the wedding.”

“Oh. Why not rent it, then, instead, say, to a museum?”

“And be responsible for one more thing? Seen my shoe collection? It’s double yours. Simon claims he knew he was marrying a pack rat, but it wasn’t until my boxes came over the threshold that he learned just how much junk I have.”


“No more than you.”

“Well I don’t have it! My habits are my way of helping the economy. Did your great aunt own any more Appelts?”

“No. After my great aunt’s grandchildren learned about the value of that Appelt, they went through all of the bags of movables that their mothers, Selma’s daughters, had given them. When Grandma died, likewise, they asked if they could look through her things after Mom and I had finished doing so.”


“No idea what happened years ago, at Selma’s—that was before I was born. As for Granny’s goods, my kin found: some Beany Babies, a few broken teapots, and many, many unopened packages of adult diapers.”

“At least they were unopened.”

“At least. Did you know that Kathi Appelt is still alive?”

“She must be ancient.”

“Well, if she was a friend of Great Aunt Selma’s, she no youngster.”

“Plan on thanking her for your wedding fee?”

“I don’t want to bother her. I read she’s still writing children’s books. Maybe, she’s also still painting.”

“Did you use any of the painting money for your granny or great aunt? If it wasn’t for them, you might not have had such a nice wedding. I liked the chocolate fountain best, but Hubby liked the Champaign cart.”

“For sure! I might still have trouble saying no to new shoes, but I’m no longer the self-focused girl who slept with that creep, Brad Tymps. I contacted the office of the cemetery where Selma and Granny are interred and paid for decades of top gravesite maintenance.”

“So, a children’s book author’s painting paid for your wedding and for your relatives’ gravesite care?”

“Seems so.”

“Can I borrow your burgundy pumps for the community dinner dance?”


“Need ‘em. Only found dust and spiders in my granny’s attic.”

editors note:

Our clutter is treasure, dammit, we just don’t know it yet. But time will tell who discovers the riches under dust and dirt. Something will shine, just not while you hold it.

What’s the maddest thing imaginable? For us, it’s when our featured writers assemble their work with a spine and send it out into the world. KJ’s newest collection Demurral is available on Amazon. We’re grabbing some copies, so here’s hoping you do as well. ~ Tyler Malone

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