Summer 2010 • Vol. XXXII No. 3 Fiction |

Empire

When my glassy-eyed grandmother opens the front door of her red brick bungalow, her beautiful white face preternaturally still, I know that she has died alone sometime during the night or early morning, and that she is offering me an extraordinary gift. A faded blue house dress hangs over her arm like a dull flag. I step into the dark house, shut the door on the brilliant daylight behind me, and she hands it over. "What do I do?" I ask. "Go up into my room and stand before the mirror." Her once feeble voice is now clear and strong. "Put it on---tie it around the front. Then brush your hair back like this?" She lifts her old arms and pushes the white hair back off her pale head, holds it at the nape of her neck.   When I was a college senior in Denver, one of my ovaries burst. Gregory Heather operated on my abdomen before I even knew him. We had a follow-up consultation four, and eight, and sixteen hours after the life-saving surgery. At the last meeting he told me to pu

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Bonnie Nadzam has published fiction and essays in many journals and magazines, including Granta, Harper’s Magazine, Orion Magazine, The Iowa Review, Epoch, Kenyon Review, and many others. Her first novel, Lamb, was recipient of the Center for Fiction’s first novel award in 2011, was longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, has been translated into several languages and made into an award-winning independent film (Orchard 2016). She is co-author of Love in the Anthropocene with Environmental Ethicist Dale Jamieson (O/R Books 2015). Her second novel, Lions, was published by Grove Press in 2016.

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When my glassy-eyed grandmother opens the front door of her red brick bungalow, her beautiful white face preternaturally still, I know that she has died alone sometime during the night […]

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