plain china: best undergraduate writing

Volume One : Issue Two

Grandma Jesus


by Ana Staska

Untitled by Adam Chambers Untitled by Adam Chambers

Escaping the humidity at last, I collapse on the sofa, dead weight melting into the cool white leather. She brings me water and sits on the stone ledge of the fireplace, lighting a blue American Spirit, handing it to me, and lighting another. She waits for words.

I tell her I hate life. I’ve gained weight. None of my clothes fit, and what I’m wearing is filthy. I quit my job, Grandma. I have no money, no air conditioning in my bedroom, I haven’t slept for three days. He says it’s over, but he’s lingering, I tell her. He slept on the couch the other night. On the couch. I can’t even manage to take a shower. It’s been on my to-do list for a week. I actually have to write “shower” and “get dressed” on my to-do lists now.

She snuffs her cigarette, sips from my water glass, and asks if she can wash my feet. The way she did when I was a little girl with long, snarled hair. She sits cross-legged on the carpet by my feet with a steaming bucket of soapy water, a rag hanging over the side. I close my eyes. Sigh. My legs dangling, her thin, soft hands pulling away layers of negativity, slowly, through my soles. She wrings dirt into murky water. She smoothes rose oil into my arches, my ankles, between my toes.

She talks to me about Jesus, and this time I don’t mind.

About the Author


Ana Staska

University of Minnesota

Ana Staska grew up in Minneapolis and graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2009. She is currently living in Northern California and traveling for a few years before going back to school for an MFA in creative writing.