My grandma was kind of a pill. I wasn’t sure what to feel when you told me she died. I had just gotten home from work. I was still wearing my apron. I had stopped at Pollo Tropical to get a chicken sandwich and a side of rice and beans. I had a Sprite too, almost fully drained because I couldn’t wait. I had to pee. I stood in the doorway—the word threshold pierced my mind—and you said she died but didn’t say how or when exactly and so I just went to my room and put on Bravo and watched a show about waiters and waitresses who were all sleeping with each other. I liked those kinds of shows back then. I liked to watch people destroy themselves. People like me, people who served others and wore a uniform and got ranch dressing and BBQ sauce in their shoes.


So I ate my sandwich and fell asleep and didn’t dream. The next day I drove you to Walmart. We needed detergent. I told you I was hungry, going to swing by McDonald’s, and once I pulled out of the parking lot, the tears came. I cried so hard, harder than I knew was in me. I had just seen my grandma a few months earlier, before Hanukkah. My ex-boyfriend invited me to stay with him after another breakup and I took a day to go see Grandma Esta. Her middle name was Baby. Her favorite color was orange. She loved mirrors. She had over a hundred mirrors in her house. I started thinking about her house, her pillows, what was in her refrigerator. I couldn’t go back to Walmart, but I had to eventually. I wasn’t even hungry, but I got a hash brown and a large Diet Coke and it made me feel sick, so nauseous, the kind where nothing helps to calm it down. I chewed a piece of wintergreen gum. I spit it out my window. My face was puffy and red.


I picked you up at the entrance to make things easier. You weren’t holding any bags. You said they didn’t have what you needed, and I thought that was impossible. Walmart has everything anyone could ever need. Walmart is where you needed to be. I was so thankful you didn’t ask about my face, my eyes, my cheeks. You never got along with her, but she loved her grandkids. Maybe some more than others, but it was still love. That love was valuable to me. That love meant something. You said we could be done with errands. You said we could go home.

Cover Art by Sarah Barnett

Brittany Ackerman
Brittany Ackerman

Brittany Ackerman is a writer from Riverdale, New York.  She earned her BA in English from Indiana University and graduated from Florida Atlantic University’s MFA program in Creative Writing. She teaches General Education at AMDA College and Conservatory of the Performing Arts in Hollywood, CA. Her work has been featured in The Los Angeles Review, No Tokens, Hobart, Cosmonauts Avenue, Fiction Southeast, and more. Her first collection of essays entitled The Perpetual Motion Machine is out now with Red Hen Press, and her debut novel, The Brittanys, will be published with Vintage in 2021.

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