Grandma doesn’t know Anna’s thoughts. Suddenly, without warning,
“I’ve been thinking about you. What’s going on in your life? Or
what was going on, last year, the year before? We didn’t see each other
much. But your mother was worried.”
Anna turns her head. It’s easy to turn her head and look at the apple
blossoms, the climbing rose on the side of the house. Soon it, too, will push out buds and everything will start at the beginning again.
Grandma doesn’t give up.
“What exactly happened? What was going on?” Anna reaches for the cheese too quickly. The knife falls to the ground with a clink.
She’s spilled wine on the dress. One drop of wine dribbles between her thumb and forefinger as if it knows the way. The stain begins to spread over the dress. If she doesn’t put salt on it quickly it will never come out. It will never leave, no matter how much you wash it. It’s already growing.
“There was something going on for years, wasn’t there?” Grandma asks.
“Now I’ve ruined this dress,” Anna says, upset.
She’s still holding her glass. The glass shakes. Grandma is looking closely at her.
“What of it?” she says. “So what? It’s just a dress.”
“But it’s yours, and I’ve gone and ruined it. Do you have any salt?
Should I get some from upstairs?”
Grandma is thoughtful, as if she were looking right through her.
She opens her mouth to say something, closes it again, doesn’t look
away when she finally makes up her mind to say what she’s thinking.
“Actually, it’s not mine.”
Excerpted from True by Riikka Pulkkinen. Copyright © 2012 by Riikka Pulkkinen. Excerpted by permission of Other Press, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.