Between Ava’s Nana saying you’re a growing girl, eat and her mom telling her that should be enough, a fissure line forms across the dining room table. Where before there was surface so flat she never noticed it, the ocean to a fish, her body to her, now there is a gap in the pine, a chasm separating then from now, youth from this. This: expanding, oily, unsure. This: ripe, sticky, full. This: wrong. This: no. This: stop. She takes in the faces of her family, their down-turned eyes and dewy brows. Grandpa’s hands have become shovels. Mom’s neck turns like a sunflower. Dad burrows in his mashed potatoes, Aunt Sue burrows in her mashed potatoes, Uncle Dez burrows in his mashed potatoes and Mia, her cousin, three years older and endlessly cool, floats inside her phone. Nana carries waves of plates in and out from the kitchen, making room, bringing more. And even though the idea of more has always seemed so good to her, a sign of progress, a mark along a doorframe, an extra sticker on a math test, Ava sees the crevasse, the rip in time and table, and shrinks, shrinks like a rock worn to sand, an inner tube with a leak, shrinks like a girl becoming a woman.
Brooke Randel is a writer and copywriter in Chicago. Her writing has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and published in Gigantic Sequins, Hypertext Magazine, Jewish Fiction, Pidgeonholes,and elsewhere. She is currently writing a memoir about her grandma, literacy and the legacy of the Holocaust. Find more of her work at brookerandel.com.