Bepa furrowed her brow as she looked at me from across the table. Her shoulders were pulled back in a forced fashion like a solider who’s day dream was interrupted by an “about face”. Her nostrils flared and her left eyebrow shot upward when her contempt reached a level too high to control. Her delicate hands tucked in the creases of her elbows as she refused to drink the coffee that I had brought her. She doesn’t like coxing but I had to try. she leaned forward rocking the table slightly and clenched her jaw before she said her in piece in that thick russian accent,
“This is unnecessary”
I shook my head “We’ve been over this”
“I feel the same” she straightened her arms and pushed her chair backwards.
“Please Bepa, I wouldn’t ask you if it wasn’t important” the conversation crunched unevenly like a stale saltine cracker that had been left in the cupboard without being sealed after it had been opened.
“It’s not” her jaw clenched again.
I let a sigh escape and thought about being charming but clearly it wasn’t going to work. I put my hand to my chin, opened my mouth, but she interrupted me,
“You know the story”
I did know it but I wanted her to tell it again. The way she said it in that accent and the details you only get from experiencing it first hand, I wanted to document her gestures. She doesn’t use many only when someone doesn’t listen or tries to listen but can break through the iron curtain of her sound waves. This was a softer story. A softer Bepa. A less frozen Bepa. I learned when we met that I couldn’t warm her up until she began to melt and her anecdotes drip off the table and onto the floor. Bepa decided when she melted. Which was never , she is a fridge set to “very cold”.
She sat down but with 4681 mile distance between us. she lifted her eyebrows and stared. Deep Fuchsia looked good on her but it didn’t suit her. It played with the greens in her eyes and brought out the little color she had in her cheeks;however Bepa didn’t align her self with her feminine nose and her full lips but rather her firm jaw and pronounced cheek bones. She cleared her throat to remind me of her presence. Not because she craved the attention but wanted acknowledgement for her anger. I looked at her and let my upper lip curl until it became a straight line followed by a gentle lift of eyebrows, the same face that a mother gives a child during his first memorable shot. She stands up abruptly and the wood panels creak in surprise. She marched over to the window, slid it open and pushed out the screen. I heard it fall and contact with the fire escape on its way down. She turned around and hasdthis strange Sylvester Stallone look on her face , she looked at me and said,
“Now I can push you out easy”.
I try to supress a smile. I laughed at one of her jokes back in Greece. We were sailing around Crete and our captain, Achaikos told her that he had sunscreen if she needed it. Bepa looked at him and said, “You can not afford getting more dark, I can”. At the time I let out a nervous laugh. Bepa glared at me in a confused and white knuckled, and then gestured for me to jump. She doesn’t joke with a smile, she doesn’t do much with a smile. Some men hold their women’s purses, I don’t laugh at Bepa’s jokes.
I looked down and let the one-bedroom fill with the sound of clicking. We sat in silence. She’s always been comfortable with silence where I can’t focus. She walked over to the kitchen table and puts her hand near mine leaned down and whispered,
“Start with my father, it is the beginning”.
I nod. She turned around, grabbed her mug , flipped on the air conditior and sat n the living room. She crossed her legs and let her eyelids drop and that could have been a soft smile above her chin but her jaw clenched and it was gone.