Want Some More

She sits at the counter with her nose down to a cup of coffee gone cold. I shuffle around the kitchen, not yet decided on what I aim to do in here. I lean my butt against the handle on the stove door, bring my arms together over the front of me, say, Gramma.

Her head comes up. Her face staggers.

I suppose this look to be the same as when she learned at forty the doctors were wrong in saying her insides wouldn’t take anymore trauma, that she’d never have any children. The same as when her daughter refused an abortion in the summer between the eighth and ninth grades. The same as when the first word fully formed from my mouth was this term of endearment to which she’d never fully yielded.

I say it again, Gramma.

I don’t want or need anything of her. I just like her face after I’ve said it. Not the surprise, that part’s all forehead and eyelids. Parts of the face I don’t give much attention. I want what follows.

Her top lip there has been accorded pleats from years and years of smoking, but the bottom one, with its center crease, has never lost the charitable pout that no doubt led a lot of men to near crises. She twists up the pair until one corner of her mouth sinks into a place that may once have been a dimple, but I’ve only ever known it as a wrinkle.

From the unsunk side of her mouth she says, You fucking with me, girl?

I nod and say, Only a little.

She rests her elbows on the counter and puts the heels of her hands up under her chin, girl-like. Except I can see there’s skin in loose pools on the laminate and more slacked in her palms.

She straightens out her mouth and says, Might not want to do that. Might find your ass beat.

I turn to wring a dishrag from the sink and start on the surfaces. I say, I’m sorry, Sue Ann. I won’t call you that no more.

Imagine one of those twinkles in my eye. Now imagine one in hers. I pull away her cup and move to the sink to dump the old coffee.

I say, Do you want some more?

And she says, More what?

I stand there a while to wonder what else I could offer.

Tammy Peacy lives in southeastern Wisconsin. A few of her stories can be read in past issues of Concis, SmokeLong Quarterly, and Big Bridge. She teaches children about food and how to prepare it for eating, and works toward earning a master’s in public health from ATSU.

See another piece by Tammy in issue 6.1 here