I Feel Angry These Days, fiction by Elena Wanka at Spillwords.com
Flying Raven

I Feel Angry These Days

I Feel Angry These Days

written by: Elena Wanka

 

“You know, my biggest dream was always to become a teacher. I wanted that so much.” I can see the hurt in your eyes, that pain you have carried with you for years. “But how could I have done that?” you continue, scratching your fork against the plate, having barely touched your food yet. You don’t eat much anymore these days. “I was the youngest of eight, my siblings all got to go to school and then pursue their interests. But I had barely finished four years of elementary school when my parents told me I had to stay home to help work on the farm. I had no other choice, we didn’t have any money. I had to say goodbye to that dream real fast.” A little laugh, but it can’t convince Stella and me that you’re over this. That you ever will be. And who could blame you? Your life has been defined by you having to put your needs, your dreams, behind those of others. First your parents, then your husband, then your kids. Now us, your grandkids. You are happy to do it, we know that. But I think that’s because you don’t know how else to live your life. And at some point, you’ve started to resent it. And stuff like that trickles down the generations like poison. And it’s really not your fault, I think.

But every time you talk about this, and you do it often now, because it’s what you seem to remember most clearly, I get angry. Just about everything, in general. Life. I remind myself that I shouldn’t get angry right now, that I should enjoy this time with you because apparently, it has become a precious commodity now. I look at the depressing gray sky outside the window of this crappy supermarket restaurant that Stella and I have taken you to because your favorite pizzeria around the corner is closed today, of course. That’s just our luck, on the one day we tried to do something special with you, just the three of us, because we don’t do it enough. You hate it here. We all do. But we pretend we enjoy ourselves because time is precious now.

When I arrived at your house an hour ago, 12 p.m. sharp on this gray cloudy day at the end of July which really doesn’t feel like summer although it should, I couldn’t find you at first. I opened the front door which you always keep open although you shouldn’t, and shouted your name through the house but there was no response. A sinking feeling started to grow in my stomach because now this is always a possibility. What ‘this’ is, I don’t know exactly. But then there you were, in the backyard, looking tiny and frail as always, your white hair shining brightly and your gray skin fading away, smoking a cigarette that you shouldn’t be smoking.

“Hey, grandma,” I say quietly, not quite managing to hide the relief in my voice that I found you here, safe. Your eyes take me in for a second, and I see what I always see in them these days: emptiness. Just for a second, and then your mouth splits into a wide smile. “Annie,” you say, and my name out of your mouth is an even bigger relief than finding you here. I am dreading the day I won’t hear you say it anymore. You let me hug you, passively, the way you go about most things these days. “So nice of you to visit. What are you doing here?” you ask, your voice a little on edge because you know you should know what I’m doing here. “We’re going out to lunch, remember? Stella’s coming soon, her bus is a little late,” I say. “Right, right, let me get my things,” you say excitedly but there is also this tiredness in your voice that doesn’t seem to leave anymore these days.

Already, I’m getting this feeling in my stomach; already, I’m getting a little angry. I always do when I spend time with you, and I hate myself for it. I remind myself to enjoy this lunch with you, because time is precious now.

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