Eva Eliav grew up in Toronto, Canada and now lives in Israel. Her poetry and short fiction have been published in a number of literary magazines, including Room of One’s Own, Emrys Journal, Flashquake, The Apple Valley Review, Horizon Review, The Linnet’s Wings, The St. Ann’s Review and ARC Israel. Her other interests include painting, films and finding the perfect frappuccino. Eva Eliav is married and has a daughter.
When Dina woke that morning, she realized that Granny was dead. It was hard to explain precisely how she knew, but there wasn’t a doubt in her mind. What lay curled beside her on the bed reminded her of husks that beetles leave behind. She’d been sleeping with Granny for a while, just to make sure that all was well at night.
“How can you bear it?” said Honey, wrinkling her nose.
“There’s plenty of room in the bed,” Dina protested, and Honey laughed out loud and shook her head.
Now she lay, head resting on her arm, watching Granny. She felt peaceful, it was peaceful in the room. The worst part would be telling mother. Then the drama would begin, shouting and tears. So Dina just lay cozily with Granny, lightly touching her hair from time to time.
“How could you?” Honey said.
“It wasn’t gross or anything,” said Dina.
“But she was dead.”
“It’s not as horrible as you think. She looked the same.”
“That’s not the point,” said Honey, grimacing. You knew she was dead.”
Dina didn’t understand what was so strange. She’d held her dog, Mitzi, after she died, when she was still soft and a little warm. It gave her a good feeling, even now, to think of cradling Mitzi in her arms before they took her away. Her bother, David, had buried her in the orchard, wrapped in a pillowcase. Dina smiled, imagining Mitzi sleeping under the stars in that fragrant place.
“It felt okay,” said Dina, “I wasn’t afraid.”
There was only one bad moment at the funeral, when the sheet wrapping Granny’s body slipped aside and Dina glimpsed Granny’s curls, gray and springy. Dina wanted to fling herself into Granny’s arms. But the moment passed. Just as the service ended, it started to rain, and everyone turned towards their cars, running a little.
That afternoon, while people visited and looked at albums full of pictures, Dina wrote a poem. Granny had always been her biggest fan. There was something in her eyes, a bloom of light, as Dina read her latest composition. “She understands,” Dina told her mother, though Granny had never learned English. Once, when Dina compiled a selection of poems – some of them, she’d written by herself – Granny sewed the pages with strong brown thread to make an actual book.
And they played together. Granny would open Dina’s secret drawer and take out all her treasures. They sat on the floor, the glittering heap between them: shiny barrettes, bangles, rings and ribbons. Granny turned each one in her hand, nodding and chuckling.
A few weeks after Granny’s funeral, Dina walked out of school with a new picture. She’d painted a nest full of baby birds, their beaks stretched open. In the distance, a mother bird was flying closer and closer, bringing worms. Granny will love this picture, Dina thought. Then she remembered. She stood, staring at nothing, then opened her fist. Wind carried the paper away, twisting and flapping.