Today's album: Africa by Amanaz
She coughs rankled liquids while slurping English breakfast tea, cream and sugar on the side just in case she feels like dessert. Her body edges into mine. A television in the corner flickers hints of holidays coming soon. Pupils burrow into my cheek. She wears all green. From the scarf layered over a sweater, tugged to the hip of her skirt, covering the knees of tights shoved inside floppy soled shoes. The only absence of green is the shock of white hair that stands in knots, stiffening away from her ears. Say, I think I need some postage stamps. There’s a letter she wants to write to someone not too far, just up north a few miles from Galway. Sure she can borrow a pen. She can’t remember the last time she saw them. Oh they’re going to be so happy when they get this. She just knows it. Dear someone. She thinks they run some sort of food store. What do you call that? A drawing of space uninhabitable, a sign above the door reads SUPERMARKE. No T. She’s positive there isn’t a T. That’s that. My pen drops to the table. The envelope slides across her tongue. She confirms its seal with her fatty palm. Thanks for helping me. It’s Christmas. Everyone gets a Christmas box for Christmas. So she says as she hops up off the bench and waddles into the other room. I hope she doesn’t come back. Her smell festers, one part domesticated rodent, two parts gum infection. I sip tea in the winter glow of indoor lamplight, in the beam of a waning moon. If I want I can open my presents. They stack in a small pile on the table. A toilet paper roll and an advent calendar wrapped in yesterday’s obituaries. She nudges my shoulder, rubbing her hands together in maternal delight. I’m grateful for the insides, half eaten chocolate and a broken keyring made in China. Impressive no? Thanks I say, thanks and thanks and thanks. I won’t be home for Christmas. What a perfect substitute. So now you can let me have a drawing. But no I say. The drawing is part of this story. She coughs wiping the back of her hand on her knee. She coughs, spraying phlegm into the air. She coughs aiming for my face, my cheeks blister with her spittle. She coughs. I’ve had this cold you see. She coughs again. And now you have it too.