Grits

Charlene and Harman Parnell

Charlene Parnell sits on her sofa dripping hot grits from a spoon into Harman's ear. Harman's head rests on Charlene's lap. The ear canal overflows, and Charlene sees the famous castle at the Magic Kingdom take shape in her mind. The steaming grits are white, not yellow grits. Yellow for corn bread, she thinks, but you want your grits from white corn. The spoon is silver, engraved with a swastika, one her father brought back from Berlin, one her mother fed her with. Over the years, Charlene has polished the spoon and returned it to its crushed, faded paper and brown box, which is as soft as satin from age and smells like the nursing home where she works. She had been saving the spoon for the baby Harman promised before she left her first husband.

Charlene holds the spoon with the steady hand of a surgeon, at a height and angle to create a perfect, thin line of white smoke. Like drawing with a long, sharp, invisible pencil. Harman feels nothing.