Beth Cato

after we moved grandma into the home
I was the one who
had to start cleaning out her house
who had to confront all the letters
from my grandpa over the fifty years
he had lived in another timeline

neither of them married again
but continued a fond correspondence
even though conditions on his other-Earth
forced him to rewrite his letters
on paper sent from grandma

whenever the laboratory made a delivery
she would squeal and dance
like a little girl, the envelope
clutched to her chest

I exchanged some letters with grandpa
mostly when I was a kid
I sent him a drawing once
of me eating at McDonalds
then had to explain
what McDonalds was

I was visiting home last year
when grandma wrote to him
about her diagnosis
her tears warped the paper
and she became so mad
because he couldn’t reuse that sheet

now, house silent
I sat down at grandma’s writing desk
always tidy before; now the aftermath
of a tornado with junk mail and food wrappers
I sorted through everything
found grandpa’s three newest letters

that’s when I knew grandma was gone
more gone than grandpa had ever been

Nebula-nominated Beth Cato is the author of the Clockwork Dagger duology and the new Blood of Earth Trilogy from Harper Voyager. Follow her at BethCato.com and on Twitter at @BethCato.