Rooms in My Grandmother’s House
Gone my dad is saying. A bowl of raisins. Raisins on the table, and she is somewhere else. I am a cat he says, food for a cat in a bowl on the table. He spits on the table and my uncles spit too.
Bronze bust my grandfather’s head with spectacles. Baby powder on the floor where he did not shower. Napkin diagrams he drew me and no space for me without he/him/his. We’re all here to take what we want before the house goes but I can’t pick up his papers when my nails are this long.
Unpainted unfinished, splintering ply loose from walls from floor she forgot to pound the nails in. The windows punched out and full of cloth. I kick matchsticks along the floor. Too many manikins, white dresses pinned to the front with cactus spines messy red streaks and fingerprints. Sometimes whole hands, sometimes just the fingertips. All of them are horrible – “whore” across the chest, stick figures fucking. One has knuckle marks on the stomach. Fits over my shoulders falls off like a lizard.
Blue glass windows blue glass table blue glass dishes blue glass knives blue glass piano blue glass bowl in the middle with bird bones inside.
A picture in black and white – Dad is six, and my grandmother is alive. She holds him and they laugh. A dark splotch down the middle, black eye on his left, black eye on her right. No one takes this one.
My aunts left cigarette butts. I wasn’t brave enough to smoke with them then, so I light what they have thrown away and pretend I remember. I want her so badly in the shapes in the smoke in the secondhand.
Me and her in the little space between the glass fish and the moon snail she glued to the wall. Real girl, she says, and I am crazy too.
The lights go off and my family files out. I pull her rags over my head and lick paint off my fingers. I strike the matches that have kept their red heads and then it is dark, and all that is left is to wait until morning.
Jenny Fried is a trans writer living in California. Her work has previously appeared in X-R-A-Y, Psyconeuroendocrinology, and the New York Times. Find her @jenny_fried.
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Image (modified): Marcia Ann Jennings Kilbourn/Daderot Public Domain