Back Burner Dreams

She drank her Culligan water with one hand on her hip.

“Do you like living in the city?”  She asked her granddaughter.

“It’s ok.  There are things to do.  I have an apartment.  I could get a dog, but I don’t know.  There are leash laws, and fines, and I would have to pay a deposit to have the pet. So many laws and fees and fines off the rez.  You can’t just have a dog.””

Her granddaughter Phyllis looked at her grandma’s house with new eyes. The cracks in the worn linoleum and missing tiles, the dirt pushed up under the fridge with a mop and pine cleaner.  The markings of grease and dirt on the walls.  None of that appeared before, she saw none of it in all the 18 years she lived with her Grandma Lou.  It had to always have been there.  With all the cleaning all the grandkids did in the house and it was as if they were only pushing dirt around.

“Do you like your new job?” Her grandmother sat down and lit a cigarette.

“It’s good.  I have health benefits and get 40 hours a week.  I might not even go to college.”  She looked at the sink dripping.  The smell of soup from the stove made her stomach growl.  She hadn’t had soup since she left the reservation last year.  She couldn’t get used to cooking for just herself.  She was used to cooking for her Grandma and the five other grandkids she was raising and sometimes one uncle who showed up when his wife kicked him out of her house.

“Well you can do whatever you want now that you don’t have a man.  Good thing that loser cheated on you before you tried to make a life with him. ”  She took a sip of coffee and looked out her window.

“I used to have dreams of leaving the reservation, but I kept having babies.  By the time I divorced all my babies had babies.  Then my babies either passed away, went to prison, or are lost in alcoholism.  What was I supposed to do? Let welfare take all you?  Let you be raised in homes with perverts?  I couldn’t do that.   I put my dreams on the back burner.” She looked back at Phyllis with a hard look in her eyes and put her cigarette out.

“What were your dreams, Gram?”

“Oh, I just wanted to see more of the world.  See a Dodgers game. Find a man who made my heart skip a beat and break his heart, and to see Elvis sing.”  She laughs “It would have been nice if that man was Elvis.”

She gets up and rearranges her Elvis magnets on her fridge.  I bought those for her when I was on a field trip in Denver. And she is still so proud of them, Phyllis thought.

“Grandma Lou, you can still do most of those things.  Well except see Elvis, but they have impersonators.  You can leave the rez and go on a trip.  It’s never too late.”

The screen door slams and her 15 year old cousin April walks in from school.  She walks over and gives Phyllis a hug.  Phyllis stares at her swollen belly.

April smiles.  “I’m having a boy in January. Grandma Lou is going to be a great grandma, you’re going to be an auntie.”

Phyllis looks at her Grandma Lou.

Her Grandma Lou don’t give her time to pity her.  “C’mon, help me make some skillet bread.  We have a tribe to feed.”

She moves the pot of soup to the back burner with her dreams and turns it on low.  She puts the cast iron skillet she uses for bread on the front to feed her family.

(Fiction Short for On The Warpath Women Writing Page on Facebook)

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