Shame burns me from the inside out: Grandma’s Ashes by Paulina Ferrante

My face pressed against his neck, his pulse thrumming against my cheek. I stand upright, feet planted on the floor, while he is seated on the edge of his bed with his arms around my waist, looking up at me. He smiles, I bend my knees, so that he can bury his face into my cleavage.

He pulls away, jokingly gasping for air. He whispers into my boobs, “I’m so glad you decided to come for Thanksgiving.” I had decided to meet my boyfriend’s family instead of going home. After dating for six months, this felt like the big, right step.

“Me too,” I pull him up to my face, and lightly kiss his lips.

“I don’t know if I told you, but my entire family will be there—”

“Yeah, you did,” I smile at him. I push his curly hair back, and kiss him again.

“I don’t remember if I told you, but we are spreading my grandmother’s ashes. That’s why everyone is coming.” Tears form in his eyes.

I remember.

For weeks, I have been haunted by visions. Visions of laughing in the middle of a somber eulogy; visions of tripping and knocking the full urn onto the ground, and then inhaling little bits of grandma; visions of projectile vomiting because I ate too much pie. These scenes danced around my brain, suspending the intimacy and warmth of this moment, which I’m trying to enjoy.

I lean into him, my knee resting on the edge of his bed, trying to yank myself into the present. I quickly cup my boyfriend’s balls. Shocked by my own action, I look down, unable to meet his gaze. Stooped over him, I hold onto his balls, unable to let go. I look up, making timid eye contact, and all I see is confusion. And disgust.

“Why?” he asks me.

“I don’t know, I’m so sorry—“

“I just mentioned my dead grandmother,” I feel his limp dick in my hand. I finally release my grip of his entire package. I return his limp shaft and cute perky balls to their rightful owner.

“I panicked,” I reply.

He looks at me, blankly. I can’t break eye contact. There’s no escape: shame burns me from the inside out.

“Lets never talk about this again,” I suggest.

He nods.

I take a deep breath. Then another. I bury my face into his neck, ready to feel his pulse once again.

“What are you guys doing up there?” his mother shouts from downstairs.

My hand, still warm from the presence of her son’s shriveled penis, floats to his face as he shouts, “Nothing, coming!”





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