When she was your age, your grandmother earned her family’s living by sleeping with men in a place called the Pale of Settlement.
At the end of her life she slept across an ocean from that world, in the same bed where her husband died.
When you were sent to look after her, you offered to bring a mattress his body wasn’t printed on.
She refused. She insisted you lay beside her and try to understand.
On the last morning of her life, she stirred against your shoulder. In a language you never learned to speak, she muttered: “I’m coming.”
Lexi Schwartz is an emerging writer, with several print and online publications through the Center for the American West (first prize in 2017 and honorable mention in 2018), the Awakenings Foundation, and the Boulder Weekly, among others.