The little girl likes to listen to records as she falls asleep at
night. The console stereo is on the living room wall, right next to the
little girl's bedroom. She listens to lots of records, but her favorite
is Mario Lanza Sings Christmas Carols.
The little girl's mother does not like Mario Lanza. She does not like
his Latin. She does not like how his tenor makes the windows tremble.
She especially doesn't like Mario Lanza after Christmas is over, and
has been hiding him away for months, but the little girl knows all the
mother's places and keeps dragging him out again.
The record belongs to the little girl's father. His name is on it, with
the name of the street where he lived before marrying the little girl's
mother. Though the little girl doesn't yet know some
things—what her mother and father argue about in the middle
of the night, why the bottle with the red eagle means so much to her
father, how far her mother will one day go to get her father's
attention—she knows she is more like her father than her
mother, and that to her mother, this is not a good thing.
The little girl's favorite song is "We Three Kings." She
likes how Lanza does the extra verses they never sing in church, where
each king says what gift he brings. Night after summer night, the
little girl listens for her father switching the turntable on, for the
record dropping below the needle with a satisfying splat, for Lanza's
voice in the still dark heat, singing of myrrh, its bitter perfume.
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