By: R.M. Giles
I did not lose my great-grandmother. I have no memories of her. She was a particularly unkind woman from many accounts. Vicious, even, at times. She would be disappointed in me, thoroughly. Both for a lack of Catholic devotion, as well as a surplus of queer behavior.
She went to meet her Lord and Savior, as she would probably appreciate me saying, on December 12th. She was ninety-seven years old, which is stellar for me, because I am looking forward to relishing my time as a little old dyke.
There is a banana creme pie in my passenger seat. It sits silently in my 2002 Subaru Outback, which Dad picked out in Timberline green for his 29th birthday. The car was a present from Mom.
It is the car I grew up in more than any other. The car in which goldfish were spilled. My dad taught me how to drive in this car. Emily Maren was in the passenger seat, where the pie now sits, when she kissed me after our junior year Homecoming Dance. I was wearing a blue Easter dress that I picked out with my mom at the secondhand shop on Maple.
That was three years ago. Now, Emily is just one of those girls from high school who tries to get me to buy protein powders and diet teas that give you diarrhea on Facebook. She has a serious boyfriend she met at college in California. He seems sweet in tagged photos.
Where the fuck was I going with this? Anyway, back to the banana cream pie. It is from Aunt Ella’s in my hometown, a perfect bakery.
I had to pick some things up on my way to the Rehoboth Beach duplex where my family is congregating. Tomorrow, we’ll drive to my grandparent’s house in Dover with all the extended family.
I am certain everyone is still asleep as I park across the street from the beach house. It is almost seven in the morning. I told my family I would be in this afternoon, because I thought I was going to stop to sleep. I didn’t feel like stopping.
As I open my car door, the smell of the ocean hits like a wave. I stand for a moment, relishing in it, before I step out to cross the street.
And then I realize that the sun is going to break the horizon in a matter of minutes.
So I don’t go to my front door. I don’t wake my family up with the doorbell chime. I begin walking towards the sea. It’s a few blocks away.
I step out onto an empty beach. It is bitterly cold, and yet-
I shed my navy peacoat and knit sweater. I strip off blue jeans and slip out of brown boots. I peel off yellow socks with little cacti on them, and feel the sand in between my toes.
I walk towards the shore. I think about how my great-grandmother is dead. How she never really got to know me, and I never really got to know her. Because I was scared. Schrödinger’s cat was alive or dead, and I couldn’t bring myself to open the box in confirmation of either.
I plunge into the freezing water and it is the iciness I am often confronted with made tangible. I think about tight lips and little head shakes, the coldness in which aunts, step-uncles, and second cousins once-removed will greet me as we are supposed to be mourning. Will someone have told Grandma I have a girlfriend, parceling me off as a piece of salacious gossip instead of a person?
As it feels all-consuming, streaks of dawn begin to crack across the sky in bright gold. I emerge from the water, the cold even more striking than before. I pull on my sandy clothes, and start walking. I get back in my car, and I pull the pie out of the paper bag it was in. My Grandma once told me when she was little, she loved to make banana creme pie with her mother. I consider the brown box tied up with red twine.