Matriarch - By Brian Law

“Ah,” she replied, “I always knew you were the one, from the moment you could speak.” 

The great-grandchild sat at her knee, her great-grandmother patting her on the head. “But how do you know? How do you know who to trust, great-grandmama?” 

The old woman had not confided in anyone for over thirty years. She had held her own counsel and had trusted no one, not her husband, not anyone, not until today. Today, providence had delivered someone she could trust, and it was a seven-year-old girl. 

“Trust, my dear, is not something you can depend upon. It is a rare gem, maybe the rarest, like you. I can trust you because you have asked the right questions, without guile, without deceit. You are the one I will trust with the answers. So, sit while I reveal them to you, my dearest,” the old lady replied, her hands taking hold of her great-granddaughter’s hand. 

“You want to know who you can trust, don’t you. As a young woman married to your great-grandfather, I trusted many people. And I learned to regret those decisions. So, I had to learn who to exclude and who to let in,” the old woman explained. “I learned that it was all about power, money and access.” 

The young girl stayed silent and paid rapt attention to her mentor as the old woman continued. “People were attracted to us and wanted access to us. Sometimes it was obvious, but often it was subtle. I’m no different than others, I like people and like them around, but when I discover their motives, it’s time to cut them off.” 

The young girl moved close to her great-grandmother’s knee and asked, “How do you do that without letting them know you are doing it?” 

The old woman smiled, stroked the child’s hair and answered, “Precisely the problem, my dear. The secret is in the access. You reduce access just a bit at a time until, finally, they have no access at all. Understand? Just a bit at a time, almost imperceptibly.” 

“Is there anyone left who’s close to you now, great-grandmama?” the young girl wondered. 

“Just you, my dear. Just you,” she answered wistfully. “And maybe the dogs,” she laughed. 

“Are you lonely, great-grandmama?” the young girl asked. 

“No, not really,” the old woman replied wistfully. 

“Was there ever anyone who you had to deny access to quickly, without hesitation?” the young girl asked. 

The old woman removed her hands from her great-granddaughter, sighed and answered, “Yes, once.” She paused as if thinking back to a different place and time and then continued, “And I would do that differently, but I was stubborn and headstrong. Do you understand those words, my dear?” 

The young woman nodded and stayed quiet. She knew about the stories, knew about the conflict, and knew a bit about the Princess. But that was all she knew. 

And for the rest of the afternoon, her great-grandmother provided her with guidance for the rest of her life. 


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