Maron Tate

Admirers

It was a Tuesday after­noon, and Nana, my great grand­moth­er, was wear­ing anoth­er new bead­ed bracelet on her left wrist. This was the fourth one this month. The beads were some­how both milky and flu­o­res­cent, and they rolled every time she made a ges­ture, clink­ing against each oth­er. I looked at my sis­ter and she shrugged and rolled her eyes, the same tired look washed over her face.

Where did you get the bracelet, Nana?” I asked.

Some sweet young man who sits with me at break­fast,” she said. “We went out togeth­er last night and took a taxi down to the fair. We had a love­ly time.” Her sto­ry changed each day. First, the beads were sup­pos­ed­ly from a man who lived next door to her and took his dai­ly walk with her through the hall­ways. Then, it was a man who came to vis­it her every night at nine. Any of these things could’ve been true. Nana was known to have what the nurs­es called “admir­ers” and was caught twice last year try­ing to leave the grounds. She nev­er got far, only to the park­ing lot or so, before some­one escort­ed her—and who­ev­er she was with—back.

He wants me to mar­ry him, but I’m not sure I’m ready for that kind of com­mit­ment,” she said, wav­ing off the idea. The excess skin under her arm jig­gled with the ges­ture. My sister’s phone rang.

I got­ta take this,” she said. She stood and walked just out­side of the room, pac­ing back and forth in front of the door­way.

I watched her talk­ing on the phone. She was say­ing how she couldn’t do din­ner, not tonight, because she was with me, remem­ber, and our time togeth­er, two sis­ters, was inte­gral to main­tain­ing our rela­tion­ship. I stood and closed the door.

Who’s she talk­ing to?” Nana said.

Her boyfriend, Bob,” I said. Nana’s face con­tort­ed a bit in con­fu­sion, and then illu­mi­nat­ed, like she’d made some fan­tas­tic dis­cov­ery.

Wasn’t your boyfriend named Bob?” she said.

No,” I lied. “His name was William. I don’t date guys named Bob. Guys named Bob are all losers.” I said it loud, so my sis­ter could hear, so that she’d know she should be suf­fer­ing.

Oh,” she said. She rolled the bracelets around on her wrist. She told me that her admir­er would be by soon, that they were going out. We’d have to go.

Have I showed you my new bracelets?” she said.

~

Maron Tate has poems and short sto­ries pre­vi­ous­ly pub­lished or soon to be pub­lished in Litmus, Cargoes, and The Interlochen Review.