“I’m ready,” chimed Mr. Wexler, “turn toward me; straighten your shoulders, boy; and the missus, please flatten your collar. You’ve fussed over everyone else, but no one bothered to primp you.”
Sonja quickly scanned her mother’s dress. “You look fine to me,” she pouted, but reached to smooth her mother’s lapel, starting to curl upward.
They all looked at the camera and the flash popped.
“Print up two of them, one for us and the other for the Markusson family in Sweden,” Far stated. “Astrid, you can mail it to my mother.”
“Far, what about Mor’s mor and far? Won’t they want one, too?”
“Usually, Mr. Markusson, I take several photos and you pick the one you like best.”
“The one you took will be fine.”
“Also, each ordered print is $1.17 unless you order five, then each one is $1.05,” Mr. Wexler said.
“A dollar and seventeen cents,” Far grumped, “I could buy over ten gallons of gasoline with that kind of money.”
“Then you go right ahead and buy ten gallons of gas and see how far it gets you,” the photographer shot back at him.
“If I didn’t want to go through this sitting again with another photographer, Mr. Wexler, you can bet your sweet buck-teeth I’d march out of here without paying you a nickel.”
“Nils, let me take the children home now. I’ll address an envelope, stamp it, and drop it off with Mr. Wexler. He can mail the photo out to your parents.”
“What about Mor-mor Gustavsson and Far-far Gustavsson?” Sonja asked again.
“You can draw them a picture,” Far said through gritted teeth, “come on, Sonja. We’re leaving.”
That evening as Sonja and Sören cleared the table from supper, she asked her brother why Far didn’t want to send his in-laws a photo.
“He didn’t want Aunt Marta and Tor to be in the photo.”
“Why would that matter?” she asked.
“Far-far and Mor-mor Gustavsson would want to know what happened to their youngest daughter and their grandson.”
“We could just say that the photo was only of our own family. Why wouldn’t that work?” The dishes were now all in the kitchen and the blond-haired girl began to fill the sink with water already heated on the stove.
Sören shook out the dish towel to dry dishes. “But Sonja, Aunt Marta and Tor are a part of our family. Far just doesn’t want them to be in the photograph.”
“He doesn’t?” she replied, handing her brother a wet plate. “Doesn’t he love them?”
“Yes, he loves them, Sonja. That’s a dumb remark. But he doesn’t love Tor’s far, not at all and he doesn’t want Aunt Marta to be in a picture without her husband.”
“Well, that’s silly, too, Mr. Smarty-pants,” she said, blowing a soapy bubble at him. “Tor’s far is fighting the war over in Europe.”
“Right. But whose side is he fighting on?”
“He’s fighting on…well, I guess I don’t know. I thought he’d be fighting on Britain’s side.”
Sören snapped his dish towel in the air then lowered his voice. “No, see, that’s the problem. Aunt Marta’s husband is fighting for the Nazis.”