Flash-fiction by Len Kuntz
“You,” she says.
My Grandmother was German, her hair gray and spun tight around her head so that it stretched her cat-eyed glasses nearly to the point of breaking, giving her both a menacing and clownish appearance. She had posthole ankles and legs so hairy it seemed spiders nested there. Her dresses were muted, sun-faded colors of a desert and you’d often find her fanning the skirts because Gran was not opposed to farting in public.
She loved me even though I was fat, maybe because of it. She most enjoyed life’s ugly things: odd breeds of dogs, deformed babies, scar tissue and bowel movements. She claimed my acne was proof of my purity, said it was my body pushing all the toxins out.
“The more pus the better!”
Most of our time was spent in the kitchen, her stirring steaming pots with sweat streaming down her cheeks like tears as I sat thinking of things we should discuss. She made weird food with weird names. It was always deep fried, then drowned with moguls of peanut butter or snowdrifts of powdered sugar so that if I breathed too hard while eating, some of it would shoot up my nose and give me severe choking seizures. Gran loved laughing at my mistakes, which meant she was in hysterics quite often.
When she found out my sister was gay, Gran said the same thing she always said when surprised, which was rare. “Gott in Himmel.” God in Heaven. But she was over it in a flash, soon trying to find pretty neighbor girls for Ella to date, eyeing a few, I thought, perhaps for herself.
Gran’s biggest crush was on Larry. That’s what she called Lawrence Welk. She liked his slickened hair, his accent of course, but mostly she was infatuated with his nose. “He has the lovely nostrils,” she would say, “so wide and hairy. I could watch him breathe all day.”
I’m not sure what she was doing driving so late at night when that train hit her, or how she managed to get in between the barriers that fall down as warnings. Though she was crushed and carried a mile past the point of impact, in my twelve year old mind she was a mountain that could not be moved.
Most days now I’m still twelve. I’m certainly still fat. Sometimes in life you have to work the angles to catch your happiness.
It took me a long time to find her, but when I did, I married a woman who very much resembles Gran. Sure, that makes things strange in the bedroom, but my wife likes the lights off anyway. In the kitchen, though, that’s where things really get cooking. That’s where I can just be me.
Len Kuntz is a writer from Washington State and an editor at the online magazine Literary Orphans. His work appears widely in print and his story collection “The Dark Sunshine” debuted from Connotation Press last year. You can also find him at lenkuntz.blogspot.com