Beautiful Ashes: Michael Landweber

Presented by Jen Michalski, for PANK. For a description of this guest series, click here.


Shhhh. Hush now.

The child’s laughter echoes from the kitchen, down the hallway and into the bathroom where Marjorie stands. She grips the edge of the sink and stares at herself in the mirror. The bags under her eyes are fresh; they come and go. The rest never changes.

Please stop laughing.

But the squealing grows louder. That is Kylie, Marjorie’s granddaughter, the girl that she first met about an hour ago. Her grandson, Timothy, is making his sister laugh.

Quiet. Before he hears.

The edge of the sink is sharp. The metal digs into her left hand clenched around it. Her right hand doesn’t have the strength to hold on, hasn’t for years. Marjorie long ago trained herself to pick important things up with her left hand.

This house is cold. Industrial. This sink, large and steel, looks like a place you might wash the blood off your arms.

Marjorie sucks in a short, sharp breath when he knocks on the door. She doesn’t flinch. Not visibly.

“Mom?” Richard knocks twice more. She hears the door handle rattle. Marjorie always locks doors when she’s allowed to. “Are you OK?” Continue reading