When my mother speaks to me in person or on
the telephone, it is always about news. "Well, I don't know
any news," she says; or else she says, "Pam Oberle is
engaged," or "Mercy Byrnes got married last weekend."
When my mother really has something to say,
she sends a gift, and with it, a letter, hand-written in her grade-school-teacher
script. Every sentence is perfectly straight across the page,
because she writes with a ruler. She goes back later, after she's
finished a line, to fill in the bottom loops--the Y's, the G's,
the Q's, the Z's. I never send anything back.
This month's package was a pair of red high-heeled
shoes. They were polished and in good shape, but they looked old.
I took them out of the box and put them on, even though I was
wearing sweatpants. The cat jumped into the box and began a frenzied
game of shred-the-tissue-paper. The letter was about how I'd better
get going if she was ever to fulfil her dream of spoiling a grandchild.
I got up and walked around in my new shoes
for a while. I listened to the sound they made on the floor. I
rocked back and forth in them and looked at the way they changed
my feet. Then I went to the kitchen table and began to write.
"Dear Grandma Georgie," I wrote with
my left hand, turning the R's around backwards, "Thank you
very much for sending me the box with the paper in it. It is fun
to play with. Love, Sir Tiger the Mousekiller. P. S. Mommy likes
her new shoes."
I left the house to send it right away so I
wouldn't lose my nerve. I clicked heel-toe, heel-toe, down the
block toward the mailbox, shoved the letter in the flap, and opened
it again to make sure it was not stuck. I clicked around the block
back home, revising that letter in my head, revising it, and revising
Bio: Sarah Eaton lives and works in Chicago. Other
work by her has appeared on the web at the McSweeney's and Cenotaph