My grandma was a strange lady. Everyone was afraid of her ways.
My mom seemed uneasy about letting me visit my grandma. But we didn’t have any other family. And grandma could be persuasive. Grandma always ultimately got what she wanted.
Grandma would make me sit and listen to her stories about who was cheating on who, stuff like that. She was the neighborhood gossip, and tattle-tale. She’d broken up two married couples. She made everything her business.
Then, grandma would start telling me what a useless and disappointing girl my momma had always been. I’d be expected to sit through this and say “uh-huh” and nod, at the right times, to show that I was paying attention. If my eyes looked disinterested, even for the merest moment, grandma would start again, from the very beginning, without skipping a beat. She would do this over-and-over, if need be.
My visits to grandma would then end with her telling me all about her “possessions”, which she kept in her magic handbag. They had strange names like “Ignorant” and “Spiteful”, and were once little girls, just like me, until grandma had used her powers to turn them into something akin to demonic familiars, who she treated so cruelly that they would beg her for death every time she opened her handbag clasp to reach for her reading glasses.
My momma would sometimes drive me home from my grandma’s house whilst trying not to cry. In hindsight, I don’t blame My momma for making me visit my grandma. My momma was a good woman. My momma was afraid, and people who are afraid can be controlled. It doesn’t make them bad. Just weak.
Once, though, my momma was a few minutes late, picking me up from grandma’s house. My momma seemed to be cracking up; she was spluttering and sobbing and begging for forgiveness. My grandma simply spoke the words “The demon’s name is Dilly-Dally” and my momma’s body dropped dead to the floor.
The doctor said it was a heart attack. The doctor seemed afraid when he spoke my family name, and wouldn’t look me in the face. “Perhaps he’d met my grandma”, I thought.
It was all arranged rather hastily that I was to move in with grandma. I was driven to my grandma’s home by a social worker who wouldn’t even walk me inside.
I knocked at grandma’s door in the dainty way which grandma liked. And then I suddenly entered before being invited.
My grandma seemed to appear as if by magic, her handbag open just enough for a worm to slither inside. She simply spoke the words “The demon’s name is Impatience.”
But she was too late. I spoke, slightly before her, and slightly over her, with:
“The demon’s name is Judgemental.”
What was weirdest was the way that grandma died with a smile on her face. So satisfied.
I remembered her once saying, in a unique moment of kindness, “My magic handbag will be yours, one day.”