By Bette Pesetsky
Stepmothers run in our family the way blue eyes might run in other families.
My own father had a stepmother, and her presence was the dominating theme of his childhood. The past is a warehouse. You knock. Who’s there? That was what my father said, and then he told me how his own father ran off with an opera singer. My father owned a few of her recordings, although he never met the woman in person. Now what makes this pithy is that the man left behind nine children and the youngest still a baby in her mother’s arms. A litter of children taken to the city to stand outside any opera house that had the misfortune to feature the singer and keen loudly while calling out their father’s name as they had been coached and the name of the harlot who stole him away. It was war, my father said, with court battles over money that your runaway grandfather and his inamorata would have to pay. That was a word my mother taught me. Inamorata. I used it on my husband. Get the hell out of my life, I said, and take your inamorata with you.
– Bette Pesetsky is the author of two short story collections, Stories Up to A Point and Confessions of a Bad Girl. Her stories have appeared in Paris Review, The New Yorker, Vogue, Ontario Review, and other magazines.