SmokeLong Quarterly

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Storms and Waves

Story by Jennifer Wortman (Read author interview) July 9, 2021

Marisa Harris

The wind shakes the window, like it’s the one stuck, trying to break free. My mom says, “That’s your grandma.”

Windstorms, snowstorms, rainstorms, heatwaves. She thinks they’re all Grandma.

“Grandma’s dead,” I say.

“You’re too young to believe in ghosts.” She says this every time. Even now when I’m twelve.

The window keeps shaking and I wonder why a rattle is the name for a baby’s toy when it also means danger, snakes and wobbly glass. I never met my grandma. When she was alive, my mom and her didn’t talk. Due to my mom’s bad childhood. Which I don’t know much about except that I’m lucky. “You’re lucky I don’t beat you,” she sometimes says, “like my mom beat me.”

Thing is, I can tell how much she wants to beat me whenever she says that. Her rageful face is its own kind of smack and scares me good. When my mom gets like this, thinking the wind’s Grandma, I’m scared in a different way. I want to stay near instead of far.

“It’s just the wind,” I say. “It’ll stop soon.”

“Even when it stops it doesn’t stop!”

Maybe she’s right: the weather’s a ghost and there’s no stopping anything. Because there she goes, right to the window. She leans back, arms stretched wide, like what wants inside just blew its way in.


This micro was a finalist in the 2021 SmokeLong Grand Micro Contest. 

About the Author

Jennifer Wortman is the author of the story collection This. This. This. Is. Love. Love. Love (Split Lip Press, 2019). Her work appears in Glimmer Train, Normal School, Brevity, Electric Literature’s The Commuter, DIAGRAM, The Collagist, and elsewhere. She is an associate fiction editor at Colorado Review and an instructor at Lighthouse Writers Workshop.

About the Artist

Marisa Harris is a photographer from Pennsylvania.

This story appeared in Issue Seventy-Two of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Seventy-Two

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