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by Leslie Walker Trahan

At Grandmother’s house, in the tall bathroom cabinet, there were three wooden boxes filled with jewelry. On Sundays, when I came to visit, Grandmother would open the boxes and lay their treasures across the kitchen table. Each piece of jewelry was a gift from a man who had loved her, or thought he’d loved her, or maybe never loved her at all. This will be yours one day, Grandmother used to say. And this. And this. She draped diamond-studded bracelets across my wrists. She held my hands up to the light. But that was all before my mother lifted me from my bed in the middle of the night and carried me to a car waiting in the street. Quiet, my mother whispered as we stepped over my father, who was asleep in the hallway with his cheek nestled against the floor. The car took us to a bus, which took us to another bus, and when it was all over, we wound up someplace very different from where we’d started. I never saw Grandmother again, but my father visited me every night in my dreams. He stood outside my window and pounded his fists against the glass. When I let him in, he parted his lips and removed his teeth, which were not teeth at all but a long string of pearls.

Leslie Walker Trahan is a writer from Austin, Texas. Her stories and prose poems have been featured in Passages North, Quarterly West, New Delta Review, Cheap Pop, and SmokeLong Quarterly, among other publications. You can find her online at

Lead image: “small pearl necklace” (via Flickr user laura redburn)