On Saturdays in June, Violet would take her Granma for fruit smoothies. She would find her Granma among the other patients, sit her in a wheelchair, sign her out for the hour and wheel her to the little car. The chemicals that balance emotion and reality were always mixing in Granma’s head, creating a “gifted” state, as her Mamma would say when Violet was little. Granma seemed fine most of the time, sparky and aware. The only reminder that she was unusual was the tissue she clutched in her right hand. She would bring it up to her right nostril, blowing over and over, plucking and flicking at air. Tiny little snakes lived in Granma’s nose—tiny little snakes, and the unabating draw to remove them. Sometimes when Violet visited Granma she would have a gash or long scratch across her cheek or chin. Violet of course would be concerned.
“Granma what happened, did you fall?!”
“No, dear, no, I just had to fight the snakes last night.” Granma would calmly reply, and then take a long gurgled sip of her orange-mango-sunrise smoothie.
Granma had always been kooky (gifted).
Running out into the static-thick of a summer lightning storm, “I have to try to catch the tail, the tail of the bolt. They can heal the dead of things.”
She could turn the bitter cherries that grew wild along the river into sweet jam. She could whisper a gopher turtle out of its hole. But it had always been Granma who was there for Violet when her mother needed the spaces, the months of spaces. Violet did sometimes worry she would one day be changed to Granma’s way; changed by chemicals she had no control over. Changed to believe things existed that were not truly there. She worried she too would be Gifted one day.
In the car they sat facing the river. Next to Violet, Granma was contently sipping. Violet watched her for a moment, then the river. A single seabird flew too close over the water. Licking at a piece of pulp stuck to the rim of her cup, Violet couldn’t help but wonder if Granma had ever caught a lightning tail.
A nose-blow broke the silence, followed by a “Gotcha.” And Violet smiled.
*Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from a work in progress.