Girls Girls Girls

Cady Vishniac
| Fiction

When Brianna is gone, Elkie’s mother shouts, “What’s with the yelling? Grandma’s upset.” Elkie meets them in the kitchen. Her grandmother is strapped into the special old-person highchair and her mother is flipping pancakes over the stove.

איך פֿאַרשטײ אַז מײדלעך שלאָגן זיך, אָבער דו זאָלסט דײַן באָבע לאָזן שלאָפֿן, נו
asks her grandmother. A drop of maple syrup dots the corner of her mouth. Elkie wipes it away with the sleeve of her nightshirt, and her grandmother smiles.

“What happened?” says her mother. She points the spatula at Elkie.

“You want a pancake?”

“Brianna hates my boyfriend,” Elkie says. “Just one. Butter, no syrup.”

“The butter’s in the fridge.” Elkie’s mother scrapes the pancake from the bottom of the pan and plates it. “You have a boyfriend? I haven’t met a boyfriend.”

“He works at the cafe. But he didn’t call me yesterday because he’s so busy.” Elkie takes her plate to the table, then she remembers the butter and gets back up again. Then she decides she doesn’t need butter after all, sits back down, and takes a bite of plain pancake. The truth is she’s never dated in her life, not unless spending time with Don counts as dating.

“Well, if this boyfriend is too busy for you, I don’t want to meet him. He’s a shit.” Her mother pours one last dollop of pancake batter onto the pan. It hisses and steams because she’s got the heat too high, as always. She’s been burning breakfast Elkie’s whole life.

דײַן מאַמע איז ריכטיק, אַלע די מענער זײַנען דרעק
Grandma cackles.

Not using butter was a mistake. There is a dry ball of dough in Elkie’s mouth, and when she swallows, it lodges in her throat.


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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