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Metropolitan Home

The trouble with having embraced minimalism is that when her mother and grandmother come to visit, she doesn't have any chairs, except in the dining room, that her grandmother can sit in--or get out of--comfortably, and so that's how she and her mother and grandmother end up spending the entire week playing pinochle at the dining room table, and her grandmother, who can no longer remember her own middle name or how to use a microwave, can still play well--it's uncanny how well she plays--although she has to be reminded often of the trump suit, but when she takes a trick, her old exuberance returns, and she shouts, "Yabba dabba doo!" and then between hands she sings Danny Boy, ending, with a convincing catch in her throat, on the line, "I'll kneel and say an Ave there for thee," and they (she and her mother) wonder out loud what will be left of their lives when everything is peeled away, what phrases, silly or otherwise, will define them, and her mother thinks (hopes), for her it will be, "But the greatest of these is charity," and she thinks (fears) that for her it will be something about a blackbird and an unmade bed.

©Stephanie Harrison, first published in Quarterly West