Winking mischievously, her grandfather told her how to get a man.
She had to cook, clean, wear perfume on Friday nights and steel herself through at least two pregnancies. She might have to get a job too, except nothing bigger than his.
Pretending she didn’t swear was something to work on, along with closing herself off from naughty thoughts, because she couldn’t be a mother, wife and a flirty seductress although it was a secret dream of most men. She had to be pure, whatever that meant.
Most of all, she had to hide any part of herself that the seeing of would cripple a man’s will to love her.
Her grandmother told her how to sneak sips of brandy into her tea whether cleaning house, caring for sick children or making dinner while she had all the torrid fantasies she wanted.
Finding her own rhythm before she got in sync with anyone else’s was what mattered. A lovely, dedicated feminist man was still a good thing too.
In any case, it was good to master that Mona Lisa smile that never gave away the marvelous universe she was building inside herself. She should never have to hide her power, but if she did she’d do it with an empowered or manipulative mindset that confused everyone.
But most of all, her grandma said she should learn to leap over the moon as often as possible and snatch sparks of joy out of dark skies.
“What she said,” grandpa always folded, his deep chuckle rolling out like a crack of thunder.
Theirs was a legendary love of compromise and ridiculous lies about the need to compromise if you were going to get any traction.
Before he died, with the sun setting on a steady lifetime of solid memories, he told her to love again, but she didn’t see the point because she knew he was a crazy one-in-a-million sort of love who would haunt her forever, in a good way. She could live with that.