Elizabeth Sanders, Pt. 2: A Childhood in Bowls and Bitters

Elizabeth Sanders was born into a tub full of weak lemonade and gin. As a young girl she refused to speak except while bathing. She had a reputation as a seer of sorts, and her parents would coax answers to neighborhood questions from her with rosewater and orange-scented salts as she spurted mouthsful of bathwater onto the floor in response. An aunt sat ready with charcoal to sketch the outlines of the resulting puddles and marriage pacts were made, graves were sited, resolutions were resolved.

She had a series of pet fish: she would sleep with their bowls in her bed and drink from them in her sleep and weep to wake to see the fish drowned in the open air, and go out to find new ones, and then do it all over again.

She made her own bitters from old pants and shoes, hair clippings, used bedsheets and handkerchiefs. As she perfected this craft, she learned to extract the history from these objects Friends and family would bring her personal things to make bespoke bitters from them: after they drank the liquor, they would tell her that they  understood themselves much better. She became a kind of liquid therapist.

 

[To return to The Elizabeths, head over this way.]