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Grey Sparrow Journal and Press, as of January 31, 2018 will move to

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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Golden Wheat

by Michelle Reale


My mother is proud of the things that I have, despite my many faults, sense enough to be ashamed of. Here is an example: I am twenty years old and I tell my mom I am “seeing” a 42 year old born-again Christian. He is Korean. My mother’s face flushes a dusky pink and clasps her hands in the air above her head like a victory: “I’ll invite him to join us for dinner!”
My mother is looking for the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ as she put it to our neighbor, and her best friend, Lucinda, one day. I’d heard this and questioned her on it later on. “You know, honey, it isn’t easy for me, with your father gone.” Technically, my father isn’t gone. He just doesn’t live with us anymore. He took up with the diabetic nurse he used to have frequent visits with while trying to get his blood sugar under control. My mother had only accompanied him on one of those visits, the time that Valerie, the nurse, told the both of them: “I don’t like making predictions, but it doesn’t look like we are going to be able to control this in the same way anymore.” My mother assumed it was the diabetes she was talking about, but when my Dad moved out it became all too clear to the both of us.
The meal was as formal as my mother was capable of making it. She pulled out the dinner plates from her original wedding set. The “Golden Wheat” pattern was one that Alvin praised with profuse and formal language. She was excited about the prospect of this upstanding man, despite the obscene amount of years between us, because if I managed to snag him, we’d both take care of her until the last day of her natural life. I had no real interest in Alvin, a sad man I’d met at a local church I passed through in the way that I pass through everything. I am good looking and we both knew it. He is a widower. When he really looked into my eyes for the first time it was as if he saw the tiny cartography that would show us the way. He had no way of knowing that all I ever needed was one small thing to attract me to someone for me to go at it full force. And then drop it and never turn back.
I packed my mother’s Golden Wheat pieces in paper shopping bags took them down to the basement. I went at them with a hammer. There would be no other occasion when she would need them. This I knew for sure.
A few days after the dinner, Alvin sent a thank you note to my mother. He praised her meatloaf and potatoes. He mentioned the loveliness of the Golden Wheat pattern on the plates, appreciative that we put forth our best for him.
And still, I had sense enough to be ashamed.