Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Grandma Graffiti, 2 of 8

{photo by seetwist}

2 of 8

Five days later she was out of the hospital, back in her shoebox 1-bedroom, l-level home. The home had been a present from her accountant-son and her daughter-in-law – a bargain foreclosure purchased when she moved to Portland from Montana. Though it had a small and pleasant-enough garden she occasionally tended to, it had the unfortunate of being in a twilight neighborhood – safe enough during the day, but the longer the shadow on the sidewalk, the more likely a homicide or drive-by-shooting became. She only ventured beyond the deadbolt door accompanied by her daughter-in-law, or if she ran short on groceries, like she did the day of the accident.

Having left her mother-in-law with a full bottle of horse-pills and a cupboard of groceries, the daughter-in-law waved goodbye from her bumper sticker encrusted Subaru. The rainforests, it seemed, were in a cheerful fight for their lives.

The grandma allowed the curtain to fall across the window, and double-checked the deadbolts. She turned inward towards her living room and felt light headed. Resting her hand on a pile of bright afghans, a wave of nausea hit her. This Portland home of hers – for eight months now, since she had been pried out of Helena – was her life in redux. Pieces of her half-century in Montana, where she had been a wife, mother and the Helena community’s only librarian were represented, like in an under-funded museum. The lamp her husband had made her from elk antlers, her award for 50 years of service to the library, her great grandma’s mahogany tea hutch. The effect made the grandmother feel trapped, as if the days in the antiseptic, practically designed hospital had affected her vision.

The hot, rotting orb in her back began to intensify, so she took a pain pill. She couldn’t stay, not here. She carefully pulled her raincoat across her shoulders, and packed a chunk of wrapped cheddar in her purse. When she opened the front door, springtime sunlight flooded her face. She closed the door behind her, leaving the lock and deadbolts untouched.

The industrial hum and tall ceilings of Office Depot immediately made her feel at ease. The pain pill had really taken effect now, and had softened the edges of the box store interior into a nest of grey down. She floated down the aisles, certain of her mission. She stared lustily at the Sharpee choices before her. There was the 12-pack, a rainbow of colors. Pastel pack. Neons. Poster tip, regular, fine, ultra-fine. Her eyes fell on a 2-pack – metallic limited edition – gold and silver traditional tip. She shivered as she reached up and took the item in her hand.

And it happened quite organically, really. On her way home she came across a beautiful yard with a swing set and two children's bikes strewn across the lawn. Hanging from the tree next to the sidewalk was a glass cylinder bird feeder. She tested the silver pen on her fingertip to get the pen’s juices flowing. She waved the birds away and steadied its surface with the palm of her hand. The moist fiber of the pen running across the smooth glass was sweeter than she ever could have imagined. The birds impatient tweets were amplified to operatic levels. An off-duty police officer drove by, barely registering the old lady on the sidewalk. And then: G.G. she tattooed, in silver cursive. She didn’t hurry away from the crime, but lingered and enjoyed the view. As the sun began to set, she headed home. On the way she unwrapped her cheese. Her appetite, it seems, was back.


Sarah O. said...


I love it. What will our beleaguered geriatric tackle next?

Anonymous said...

Mmm, Sharpie porn...

Oh, sorry, what was I saying?

Mmm, Sharpie-writing-on-glass porn...

You know, this is seriously making me want to take felt tips to different mediums. If I take up tagging, Eden, I totally blame you.

Looking forward to the next installment.

Kristin Thiel said...

I'm enjoying this story, Eden!

(I'm one of your fellow participants in S4C, kristinthiel.com. I think we've also met at the Writers' Dojo during kids' writing classes. But I hear you're no longer with COW--what's new now?)