Grandma Visits

An essay by Gwendolyn Burke, as provided by Shelly Jasperson
Art by Scarlett O’Hairdye

She had promised me she’d visit. But I hadn’t seen her since she died, and that was weeks ago.

I’d expected a rattling doorknob, a creaking rocking chair. Maybe a translucent, flowing dress with a chilly whisper. But I got bupkis.

Meditation hadn’t worked, and Ouija boards were unproductive. It looked like Gran was taking the safe’s combination to the afterlife, where it would never help anyone.

In a last-ditch effort, I scheduled a séance.

The medium had asked for Grandma’s closest friends and family to attend. But I’d had trouble convincing them to come. The expansive convention center room contained only five people: Sabine, her physical therapist; Gretta, her cycling coach; Yvonne, the girl who took her order every morning at Jo’s Java; the medium; and me. It looked like a last-minute bridal shower without the gifts.

The medium, a middle-aged blonde woman whose tan highlighted her wrinkles, surveyed the room and raised a sculpted eyebrow. “Well, I’ve worked with less.”

Gran would have laughed. Age is an accomplishment! She would have said. This woman is hanging on to youth so hard her fake nails might pop off.

I stifled a giggle. Gran could be so inappropriate.

“It isn’t funny. This might not work. Spirits are fickle. Has your grandmother even been to this hotel?”

I nodded. I’d worked the front desk for the past four years, and she’d visited me every Friday with a bag of crumbly cookies and a soda. Fresh from the oven! She’d say as she plopped the bag in front of me, so I could clearly read the grocery store label.

Her house would have been ideal, with the huge picture of a cactus and southwest cowboy figurines. Her ancient corduroy recliner had smelled of dusty soap. When I closed my eyes, I could picture her there, leaning on her heirloom safe. In my mind’s eye, she tapped the top of it and raised an eyebrow.

But my father owned the house now, and he was remodeling to sell it, the jagweed. Gran would be less welcome there than behind a kissing booth.

I sighed. This would have to do.

Art for "Grandma Visits"

Gran’s face flashed in my memory. Dusty blue eyes sparkling, thin lips turned upward in a mischievous smile. I grinned. I might really get to see her face soon. And more importantly, get that combination.

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Summer 2018 collection.

Gwendolyn Burke lives in the outskirts of the windiest city in America: Reno, Nevada. For the past four years, she’s worked at the Reno Marriott, doling out plastic key cards and silently judging items on room receipts. In her free time, she watches old westerns and may or may not forge bank statements. You can’t prove anything.

Shelly Jasperson has an inexplicable love for dead things. This is unrelated to her being a wife, mother of three little terrors, and author. Her short stories can be seen at Timeless Tales Magazine and Bewildering Stories.

Scarlett O’Hairdye is a burlesque performer, producer and artist. To learn more, visit her site at

“Grandma Visits” is © 2018 Shelly Jasperson
Art accompanying story is © 2018 Scarlett O’Hairdye

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