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"News" by Sarah Eaton


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."

Detail, "Clotted Bodies and Other Ghostly Matters" by Lissa Robinson 2001, Collection of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Photo Credit: M.N.Hutchinson

Detail, "Clotted Bodies
and Other Ghostly Matters
by Lissa Robinson 2001
Collection of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts
Photo Credit: M.N.Hutchinson

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 it again.


Bio: Sarah Eaton lives and works in Chicago. Other work by her has appeared on the web at the McSweeney's and Cenotaph sites.


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