Taylor Graham
Today's Special

Sleet not quite snow. You're idling the pickup in the parking lot, you say we need to get home. I've been through the grocery aisles, Mom isn't there. In the diner down the street I find her primped at the formica counter, looking as she did in her 50s, her face used up but not yet famished. The waitress sets down a plate of brown meatloaf under gravy. Mom goes on talking to a stranger on the stool beside her, giving all his attention to his fries. She must have reverted to her childless first-marriage life, before I came along, back when she was happy. I tell her we have to leave, it's snowing. A mother doesn't like a daughter saying "have to." She keeps on talking, gesturing to the man. I see she's wearing the stole from her first marriage, two dead fox-heads with red paws draped across the throat, the thing she left me like an inheritance. It's still hanging in my closet shedding hairs: sad grinning ghost I can't get rid of. Mom's voice grows louder as if drunk on this raw day in a diner serving nothing stronger than cowboy coffee. I pick her up and carry her out the door. How mummy-light she is, and desiccated. Outside, sleet has turned to snow, falling hard enough to close the roads. You and the pickup truck are gone.