Girls Girls Girls

Cady Vishniac
| Fiction


“It’s wild how your grandma can only speak German now,” says Brianna.

“Don’t try to change the subject. Should I wait for him to call me?” Elkie says this with her mouth full. The cookie is so good. Brianna put in M&Ms instead of chocolate chips.

“Just write like, ‘Sorry for your loss,’” Brianna says. “Be-cause her husband is dead.”

This is when Elkie’s mother speaks up. “Who’s dead?” she asks. Both girls jump out of their skins for an instant, but just as quickly force themselves to relax. On the TV, Bob is having an allergic reaction to lobster.

“All the characters on this show. I read about it online.” Brianna’s a film studies major, so internet forums about random cartoons are her homework. “Hi, Miss Clark. Didn’t see you there.”

“You mean like a fan conspiracy theory?” Elkie’s mother sniffs. “I was just poking my head in. I made you girls some chicken for after your meeting.” She sniffs again. “Mom?” And this is when Elkie notices her grandmother is hanging her head and panting. Elkie’s mother, all business, pats down her own mother’s moist lap.

“Christ, Miss Clark. We didn’t understand she had to pee,” says Brianna. “We can like help you clean up.”

איך בין עקלדיק. איך האָב פֿײַנט װערן אַן אַלטע
says Elkie’s grandmother.

“It’s not a big deal,” says Elkie’s mother. This is the example she’s set Elkie’s whole life, that of a woman who barely notices the world on her shoulders, a woman never gets angry, who is proud of Elkie without asking questions, no questions at all, not even the sort of questions that might prove she’s paying attention.

Brianna fidgets on the couch. “You sure, Miss Clark?” Brianna’s not trying to be invasive, Elkie knows. She’s just bad at watching other people handle things. She’d rather help.

Before Elkie’s mother can answer, the phone vibrates again, long and insistent. “Pick up, that might be your friends,” she says. She drapes Elkie’s grandmother over her shoulder like a wet dishrag and staggers toward the bathroom.

Cady Vishniac studies Yiddish and Hebrew at the University of Michigan. Her work has won the contests at New Letters, Mid-American Review, Greensboro Review, and Ninth Letter, and is forthcoming in Glimmer Train.

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