When the young girl thought of the grandmother, she remembered the grit of the raspberry seeds in her mouth. Fresh raspberries she picked herself, not even as tall as the bushes she conversed with, asking and thanking for each berry, a bowl in her hand, her bare feet gently bathed in dew. She chose each one carefully as it was offered, picking off the tiny insects and imperfections she saw. She brought her bowl inside, full, and held it out to be covered in fresh cream.
The food was always better at the grandmother's house, how could it not be? Food was not prepared there, it was managed, just as the family was, without its consent or cooperation, giving in only to the cemented lack of choice.
The young girl watched this woman's hands make everything. Shape pie crust into girlish swirls and flutes, this harsh specimen of a grandmother. The grandmother was generous only with food, gray memories of summer weeks filled with her steady disapproval mercifully colored by bubbling fruit pies too perfect to have been made from bitterness and scorn alone.
The grandmother preferred boys, had little time for girls, or even anything feminine. The dark red lipstick she wore when she went into town, 5 blocks away, was the only concession she made to femininity. But it played out as mockery more than anything else, her broken teeth and cruel smile outlined with the blood she drew when she spoke.
And yet the young girl returned, was even anxious to go there. To sit on the cracked steps in front of that big house filled with hidden passages and round windows and a black basement that coiled around its own darkness and waited.
The grandmother died there, in that waiting basement, among her canned vegetables and the clutter of a life she never went through.