Blue, green, and yellow roses bloomed over my grandparents’ sofa. Napping on it, I once saw a sapphire tiger there among the musty blossoms. My grandfather and uncles crawled around, hunting for a paw or tail, only to tell me it had been a dream. I asked where my grandmother was. “Out,” they answered. Tucking me into bed after dinner, my mother told me her parents were getting divorced. “They don’t like each other anyway,” she said, jaw popping. My grandmother went to live with a man who wore mutton chops and served lamb with mint jelly at Easter. (I did not dream that.) Then a woman came to sit among the blue and green and yellow roses. She smiled commercial lips and smelled of a department store flashing jewelry and dizzy lights. The sofa cushions were no match for her perfume, but I still fell asleep in her lap. My grandfather soon left for California with the perfumed woman, but before he did, he sang to me one final time and gave me a tiny gold ring with my emerald birthstone. I begged to wear it on our last walk. Perched on his shoulders, I dipped under the kitchen threshold, and we stepped out into the wide backyard that melted into a park. Somewhere along the way, the ring slipped off. My grandfather and uncles crawled into the night after it, but never found it. Wiping my face in the shy, summer dark, I looked up at the perfumed woman. “The emerald is camouflaged in the grass like a tiger’s stripes,” I said. She knelt down and smoothed my cheeks. “There you go. Now you’ve made a treasure for another little girl.”
Kathryn McMahon is an American writer living abroad with her British wife and dog.
Her stories have appeared in Syntax and Salt, The Cincinnati Review, The Baltimore Review, Jellyfish Review, Necessary Fiction, and others. Recently, she has received nominations for Best Small Fictions, Best of the Net, and the Pushcart, and she was a finalist in the 2017 Wyvern Lit flash fiction contest. She also reads prose for The Adroit Journal. On Twitter, she is @katoscope. Find more of her writing at darkandsparklystories.com.