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.