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Breakfast with Grandma

I found my grandma standing in front of my open refrigerator door one morning, a gallon of milk tipped all the way back, guzzling it fast and not spilling a drop. It’s funny that that’s the thing that struck me most at the time, how she was just chugging this gallon of milk without losing any. My grandma had died going on ten years before, so you’d think seeing her there at all would be itself the big shocker that morning, but no, at least not at first.

When she was done with the milk she tossed the empty jug over her shoulder and started in on the eggs. It was Sunday morning; I go grocery shopping on Saturdays. She picked a good time to stop by if she was hungry. She ate each of the dozen eggs in one bite, shell and all, and tossed the carton over her shoulder. It landed next to the milk jug, in a little pile she was making, along with an emptied styrofoam tray of ground beef, an emptied jar of jam, and a wrapper for a brick of medium cheddar cheese. I have to imagine it took her some time to chew through all the cheese, it was a new one.

I didn’t say anything to her, and she didn’t notice me. I went back to my bedroom and paced around, forgetting for the moment that I’d long since kicked the nail biting habit. I didn’t believe it was really my grandma. My eyes told me it was my grandma, she had my grandma’s skin, my grandma’s hair, she wore my grandma’s clothes, her shoes, her pearls, her perfume. But some other sense, one I can’t name, was screaming at me with at least as much certainty that this was not my grandma, that my grandma was dead and even if she wasn’t, the thing in my kitchen wasn’t her. I’d gotten up that morning to find a spider in my kitchen the size of my dead grandmother, far too big to put outside without touching it, far too big to smash. When it was done with my fridge and my pantry, what would it eat next?

My phone was charging on my nightstand. My wallet was there with it, which was lucky since I normally keep it in a dish on the counter in the kitchen. I took them both and cut a hole in my bedroom window screen with the nail file end of a pair of clippers from my headboard. I jumped out the window. I guess this isn’t my house anymore, I thought. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel much of any way about leaving my house behind with nothing but the clothes on my back, my phone, and my wallet. I was a little irked about the groceries, since I’d just gone to the trouble of getting them. My car though… there was no way to get to the keys without going through the kitchen. I left it behind. It hurt, it really hurt to leave the car behind like that, like I was leaving a friend behind, or no, not a friend, a pet. Someone who needed me. And after a few days of walking everywhere, it hurt a lot more.

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