Things You Need to Know About My Grandma
1. My grandma didn’t like to leave the house. At the age of 50 she said — I’m done! — and put a sign up to remind her. Outside=overrated. She showed anyone who happened to come by — the milkman, the weird guy from the drug store, who brought her pills. Overrated, she said. It was the only time she was happy — showing people what she was missing.
2. My grandma was a smoker. She didn’t curse like a sailor or play cards but she smoked and smoked until a furnace grew inside her. It came out of her ears. Her throat. Her mouth. She was quiet, my grandma, quiet when my grandpa was telling us we’d win the lottery, that the projects were this temporary thing. Yes Al, she said, but the smoke told us something else. It spelled out my husband is a loser and I am going to die here.
3. She didn’t though. She died in the hospital. They say it was lung cancer but when they opened her they found a furnace. It was between her legs. The doctor said, this hasn’t been tended in a while, and looked at Grandpa with accusing eyes.
4. After she died everyone said my grandpa would die too, but he didn’t, he met someone. They talked for hours on the phone, hours and hours, while Grandma’s ghost rolled her eyes and pointed to between her legs, whispered on the phone — he won’t feed you.
5. Sometimes Bob Barker would come over to the house. He’d slip through the screen and sit between Grandpa and Grandma. He’d point to it, all the happy people spinning the wheel — one dollar, two dollars, 50 cents. Sometimes my grandma would consider it. She’d consider getting on her feet and trying, but really, she just liked chilling with Bob Barker.
6. She smelled like Marlboros and yarn.
7. And she loved me.
8. She said, don’t get married and made me carve it on my skin.
9. And when I didn’t listen her ghost came to my wedding. She stood there in her yellow housedress. She held on to Bob’s arm, who was a ghost now too, in tweed, she held him and looked at me and I worried she was going to say something, when the priest said, does anyone object?
10. And sometimes she comes to me at night. When I’m asleep. She crawls between me and my husband and looks at me. She puts my hair behind my ear and tells me my housedress is getting faded, to quit smoking, to crack the windows open wide.
11. And in my own dreams I promise her. I even make like to get up, to put some clothes on, to take off my own sign — outside=dangerous.
Leonora Desar’s writing can be found or is forthcoming in River Styx, Passages North, Black Warrior Review Online, SmokeLong Quarterly, Hobart, and Quarter After Eight, among others. She recently won third place in River Styx’s microfiction contest and TSS Publishing’s Flash 400, and was a finalist/runner-up in Quarter After Eight’s Robert J. DeMott Short Prose contest, judged by Stuart Dybek. She lives in Brooklyn and writes a column for New Flash Fiction Review—DEAR LEO.
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Image: Grant Wood Public Domain