The ride home was shorter than the ride there—an eternal truth of the space-time continuum, Toby had once pointed out. Angelica and her grandmother went into the kitchen and sat down at the oak table. Gran turned off the lamp and lit a cigarette. Angelica handed Gran the keys, which caught the dull light from the window. The shadowy room slowly revealed its known treasures—pewter in a cupboard, the old stove with its cobalt pilot, some revolutionary’s portrait, several upended brooms flaring from an umbrella holder.
“All in all,” Gran said without preamble, “a continued liaison would be a great deal of trouble. For you, for him, for all of us. Your great-grandfather didn’t rescue his line so it could get tangled up with itself like rotten old lace, like some altar cloth from Antwerp. I suppose I mean Bruges.”
“Bruges, yes.” Angelica swallowed. “You are part of the lace now.”
“Not noticeably,” Gran said. “The Larcom influence has not made itself felt.”
Was that any wonder? The Larcoms had no golden-age ancestors, no diamonds hidden in coats, no displacements, no rebirths, no tragedies. No money.
Angelica said: “Consensual incest is not considered a crime.”
“I believe you are quoting Toby. We’re not talking about incest as criminal. Funk that. We’re talking about incest as undutiful. Broadening the group to insure its survival—that is your responsibility, yours and your coevals.” She lit a new cigarette, and in the flame of the match her eyes gleamed, the whites white, the irises almost white. “You will tire of this sooner or later,” she said. “Tire of it now, beloved daughter of my daughter.”
For sixteen years she had addressed Angelica by name only. The sudden endearment—a declaration, really—was worth ten of Gramp’s long-winded blessings. What a rich phrase. You could live a life on the income it yielded.
Angelica gazed steadily at her grandmother. “I will do as you say.” She offered her right hand to confirm the agreement. But Gran just continued to smoke.
Excerpted from “Granski” from Binocular Vision: New & Selected Stories Copyright © 2011 by Edith Pearlman. Used by permission of Lookout Books, an imprint of the Department of Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.