The Smaller the Iceberg, The Bigger the Heart

by Alecz Yeager

My body turned sideways to slide between the tan, florally-decorated loveseat and lazy-boy recliner of my Nana’s living room, as I stepped into the kitchen. The dishwasher stood freely without touching a single counter, in front of the window that was decorated with short yellow curtains and sunflower adornments. Peaches meowed and hissed at me from atop the dishwasher, her bowl always full of Fancy Feast wet food. 

Not even two steps from the door way was the kitchen table, big enough for four people to sit at it, but if all four chairs were pulled out, no one else could walk through the kitchen. I was tiny enough to move between the counters and the tables, but I wondered to myself how any adult was ever able to turn around without getting stuck or knocking over a dish. 

There was a wooden stool with bunny rabbits and birds painted onto it sitting right beside the stove. It must have belonged to my father at some point because I did not remember it ever looking brand new. Or perhaps that is how it came. Worn and weathered like jeans that come with pre-ripped holes in them. 

I picked up the stool and moved it to the other side of the stove where my Nana stood pouring coffee into mugs. 

“You want a cup, baby doll?” she asked. 

Without needing permission, I reached for the cabinet above my head. It, like the counter tops, was stained and had pieces of paint chipping off of it and onto the stove. It explained why my Nana had to constantly wipe down her kitchen. I placed my hand on the edge of the cabinet door before opening it, knowing that there was a good chance that a bowl or mug or random spoon would come tumbling down. Luckily, every cockeyed piece of dinnerware seemed to balance in their place while I carefully retrieved my favorite cup from the shelf. The cup was meant for camping, metal, navy blue with white speckles all over it, but it kept my coffee warm and that was all that mattered. 

As I sat the cup down, Nana didn’t even have to leave her spot at the coffee pot to reach her fridge. She leaned her hand inside and pulled out the smallest jug of milk I’d ever seen. Maybe it was because of how small every room was, or maybe it was because Nana loved cute things, but the small jug of milk was only the tip of my Nana’s very small iceberg. 

Her cabinets were too small for all of her dishes. Her dressers were too small for all of her clothes. In fact, she had to keep two extra dressers in her bathroom in order to keep all of hers and my Papaw’s clothes from spilling onto their bed. Her living room was too small to fit a full-sized couch. Her laundry room was too small for her to ever not be doing laundry. Her dining room was too small for anyone to actually eat at her big table, which is why we just ate at the one in the kitchen. Her house was too small for the majority of her property, which is why one whole bedroom had to be hidden with a curtain so that no one could see that her boxes and totes full of memories almost touched the ceiling. 

And maybe this is why she started buying small things. Small jugs of milk, small bottles of water, small curtains, small couches (also known as loveseats), small cats, and small containers of Fancy Feast to feed said cat. 

As my Nana began to pour the milk, I whined, “No, Nana! That’s not the right order!”

She huffed and put one hand on her hip. 

“Well, Alecz! It don’t matter what order you put the stuff in. It all tastes the same,” she said. 

“No, you have to put sugar first, then coffee, then milk,” I explained. 

Nana stared at me for a moment and then asked, “Is that right?” She crossed to her small sink and poured out the non-sugared coffee. Then, she returned and placed my camping mug back where it was. “Okay,” she started. “Now, let’s make sure I do it right this time.”

Alecz Yeager is 23-years old and just recently received her BA in English from Winthrop University. She works as an Audit Analyst and writes primarily prose, as well as some poetry, in her free time. Her prose work has been featured in Soft Cartel, Youth Imagination, X-Ray Literary Magazine, and Furtive Dalliance. Her poetry has been featured in publishers such as Mizmor Anthology, the Winthrop Anthology, and Silver Blade. One of her poems, “For the Man That Makes Me Smoke,” has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize 2020.

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