My Grandmother is a Kite

Most days she sat in the living room and yelled at the television in French. On Sundays she went to church and her friends came over after. She ate pig’s ears which I’m pretty sure are meant for dogs, and sometimes she sang to me in a made-up language when I couldn’t get to sleep.

In the fall though, my grandma got the itch to go flying again.

“I’ve got to go check up on things from a bird’s eye view,” she said.

“No way,” said my mom. “There’s too much for you to do here.”

My grandma told me there was a red blood stain in the shape of a person on the roof of city hall. She told me that empty swimming pools look like blind eyes when you see them from above and that she wanted to spit in every one of them in town.

“How am I supposed to look after things with you flying around?” asked my mother, and so my grandmother waited.

I saw her saving bits of string when my mother wasn’t looking, the twine from the butcher, the shoelaces from my old runners. She wound it all together in a huge ball she kept under her bed. She watched TV and yelled in French and ate her pig’s ears and she still even sang to me sometimes, and all the while bits of string kept going missing until one night, and the very end of fall when then wind is the harshest and the air is the coldest, I heard the window open down the hall, and I got there just in time to see her jump. She didn’t turn around to say goodbye, just leapt and was lifted by the wind.

When the sun rose, my mother and I went outside. We watched the string attached to my grandmother’s bedpost stretch all the way to the sky. I thought my mother would yell or try to yank the string back down, but instead she sank to the ground. She picked blades of grass one at a time real slow and lined them up in her palm. It wasn’t until she saw me looking that she stopped. She brushed the grass away and ran her fingers through her hair and my hair went into the house.

It’s been six months now and the string’s still stretching. We can’t see my grandma in all the clouds and the blue of the sky, but somehow I know she’s still up there, sailing above the neighbourhood and checking in on bloodstains, trying to spit into every empty swimming pool in town.

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