Shopping Cart

Your cart is empty

Follow Us On:

Facebook: RosebudMag?ref=ts Twitter: Rosebudmag

PDF Print E-mail

Michael’s grandmother added a spray of faucet water to the irises and returned them to the window ledge. (She thought of death as a seasonal eruption, an attribute of meteorological forces. Hot and cold were conditions of the heart as well as of the air. Hadn’t autumn been her husband’s season, just as ancient summers seemed to flow through her own veins? Heat turned flesh to water, and water was lifeblood to all of the backyard gardens with which she had felt psychic kinship throughout her life.)

It was on a November morning that Michael’s grandfather died, a morning of ice and rain. The old man had spent weeks in bed, his lucidity erratic, his breathing fluctuating in union with the wind that rattled the windows. A large green tank of oxygen — sleek as a torpedo — stood sentry next to the night table. The day before, Michael and his father had been by to rake the torrent of brown and yellow leaves that layered the yard. “Your grandfather carries autumn within him,” Grandmother Booth once said. The transmigration of his grandfather’s soul was sure to have a crisp, pungent presence, like the burning of leaves.

“Eccentricity is not a sin,” his grandmother was saying now. She paused, measuring her words. “People claimed your grandfather was an eccentric man. He was a musician, his feelings ran deep. But there are some members of this family whom I would call ‘willful misfits,’ and their selfishness hurts me very much.”

Michael glanced at his grandmother’s toast, left untouched on her plate. He thought of the toast that was always left behind at breakfast with his mother. Because of toast, breakfast was forever an unfinished meal.

“Am I a misfit?” he asked.

“That will be your choice to make. Let your father’s reckless ways be a warning to you. He’s a hit-and-run driver on the highway of life. But if you remember nothing else about this family, remember this: Never listen to your Aunt Etta.”

“She has dreams about Grandpa.”

“Eat your oatmeal,” said Grandmother Booth, her mouth tightening.

Michael reached for the sugar bowl. “Aunt Etta is eccentric,” he said.

“You’ve taken quite enough sugar.” Grandmother Booth drew a deep breath. She set her toast aside and took a sip of grapefruit juice. “Etta is a misfit,” she said. “Someday you will appreciate the distinction.”

A family scandal had erupted during the previous winter. Michael’s father found a Post-it note stuck to his car’s windshield like a parking ticket. “Papa suggests adding B vitamins to your diet,” the message read. The handwriting was Etta’s. She never talked of dreams, but rather “impressions” that Grandfather Booth, two years dead, had spoken to her. Other messages followed, including one to Grandmother Booth: “The polar ice caps are melting — protect your bones with calcium supplements.” Michael’s father was furious with Etta. “There is a fine line,” he drunkenly yelled at her on the telephone one evening, “between psychic phenomenon and psychic humiliation. You have crossed that line!”

The piece also walks a fine line between the comic and the poignant. It makes the piece unique, but also increases its chance of failure. That risk-taking is exciting to an editor, above and beyond the subject.