by Tina Tocco

They were meeting me at school, Dad told her, so Grandma looked for her favorite shoes until she cried.  Even if she’d found them, she could never miss what else had gone missing.  The packs of Poise lined along the top of the linen closet.  A week’s worth of housecoats.  A week’s worth of socks.  Her heaviest sweaters, crowded in her bottom dresser drawer, now boxed and labeled at the back of the garage.  Even the Salvation Army mailer — free pick-up six days a week!! — sitting too long by the phone would not have helped.

After dark, I plucked the silver tangle from the kitchen garbage, my stepmother’s project from the night before, her gloved hands needling each strand until Grandma’s hairbrush seemed new.  Maybe that would have flicked something on, glanced across Grandma’s mind.  But the kitchen had scared Grandma for a while, and Kathleen making things shiny was not unusual.