Sheri could still smell Grandmere’s eau de cologne from when they’d embraced. It lingered all day, bringing back the jagged memory of the old woman’s crannied face bending close to whisper, “Murder.”
Grandmere had lived half her life isolato, handing her husband a pink slip the day she turned forty that read: I’m leaving you and the children, finding my own way.
She’d lived for years now on her own desert island, which was really only in Palm Springs, but might as well have been off the coast of Iran for as much as anyone came close to her.
If Sheri had believed in karma, she would have relished this moment: Grandmere’s brain addled from her solitude, from the brabble of her vindictive imaginings.
But Sheri couldn’t bring herself to feel anything but cold.
She viewed the day in disjointed memories, as if detached from it.
There was the casket with Grandpa Jack inside.
(They’d buried him with his hunting rifle and the dead rabbit he’d shot the morning of the heart attack.)
There was also Grandmere’s dyed-pink hair in a floaty poof.
There was the embrace, the halitosis and perfume intermingling.
And there was the dread that locked around her throat, the dread she had carried from childhood but had never named.
Oh yes, it was all there.
And there, of course, was the word Grandmere had murmured.
Her pink hair bobbing like she knew. She knew.
Sheri stepped into the shower, scalding hot against paper-thin skin, to wash all the smells away.
Thank you to Sheri (a.k.a. S.A. Larsen) for her inspirational words: karma, brabble and isolato. If you're wondering why I'm writing shorts, click here.