“Woke!” Granny Bee bellowed.
          Lila jumped, then braced herself for more as the rambunctious sausages sizzled in the skillet. She flipped them with the spatula. “Goodness, Granny,” she said.
          She knew better than to show willingness to broach “certain topics,” as her family called them, but she could almost feel the heat emanating off her grandmother, who was fairly stranded at the kitchen table due to long-haul COVID (she still stridently and inexplicably insisted that COVID hadn’t been that bad). Given the lack of physical energy, Granny Bee was glued more stubbornly than ever to her iPad, whose screen broadcasted “outrage” at every tap. “These goddamn woke liberals know nothing about business!”
          “Ahhh, mmm.” Lila was starting to regret agreeing to her mother’s request that she stop by to make Granny breakfast because the daytime nurse/companion was running late. A visit to Granny Bee’s was always an exercise in learned avoidance, like the instinctive, hard-learned lesson to avoid touching a hot stove; it meant wearing long sleeves to hide her tattoos, lying about her job teaching yoga (yoga was part of the Democrats’ demonic agenda, apparently), definitely omitting her political affiliation or protests she’d been attending — it was basically a no-disclosure zone concerning the most important parts of her life and identity. She couldn’t even mention the weather for fear she’d have to hear a complete monologue about how the climate has always changed and humans had nothing to do with it.
          Such interactions with Granny Bee never did anybody any good.
          “You won’t believe it. Cracker Barrel is going to have those plant-based sausages!”
          “Wha– what?” This new outrage took Lila by surprise.
          “I know! I know!” Granny Bee slammed her clenched fist down on the well-worn, scarred wooden kitchen table; silverware, coffee cup, sugar bowl, a variety of pharmaceutical bottles jumped and rattled and clanked. “Like for vegetarians. And vegans,” she intoned, as if this meant Satanists would be performing a Black Mass at the table next to her and her beloved chicken fried steak.
          “Oh!” Lila stared at the sizzling sausages, then lowered her head to conceal her stifled laughter.
          “I never thought I’d see Cracker Barrel get… get woke! Everybody’s yelling at them on Facebook. Doesn’t it know who its customers are? That’s what everybody’s asking! Does it even know who its customers are?”
          “Unwoke people?”
          “You’re damn right!” Her fist slammed down again.
          Lila rescued the sausages from the hot skillet and let them simmer down on a plate lined with a paper towel, then poured the bowl of beaten eggs in and commenced scrambling rapidly.
          “Well Granny, I think that maybe some people just don’t like pork or turkey sausage or whatever? Or maybe can’t eat it for health reasons?” It felt like weak sauce to drizzle onto this heated breakfast-time belligerence, but Lila knew the dangers of bringing up climate change or animal welfare. She’d never get to the studio on time.
          “No, they’re just trying to be woke and political. Don’t they know who their customers are?” Granny repeated.
          Lila took a deep breath, tried to stop herself — but the dam broke, it was just too much. “Oh, Granny Bedelia, I don’t know — it seems to me that there’s this thing called the marketplace, where a business offers something, and people can buy that thing if they want it, or not buy it if they don’t. And here’s the thing with the plant-based sausages, maybe some people want to eat them, yeah? Maybe a lot of people want that option, and that’s just as OK as the people who don’t want it. Thinking somebody’s taking away your sausages is a bit extreme.” Lila sighed, thinking about all the times Granny Bee had gaslit her as she slid the freshly made eggs and sausage onto Granny’s plate to join the toast she’d already toasted and buttered. “You know, maybe those sausages will flop at Cracker Barrel and then they’ll come off the menu. You know. That’s how it works. No need for you to be so upset that they’re there and that maybe some people want them, like people traveling or families with one vegetarian kid, that kind of thing. Maybe new people will go to Cracker Barrel, which last I heard, is what a business would want. Free market, all kinds of sausage for all kinds of people, more customers coming in and ringing up more sales. Right?”
          “You’re crazy!” Granny burst out. “You woke young people just don’t understand.”
          Lila chose not to react as she placed the plate in front of her grandmother then turned to get the coffee pot to top off her cup of coffee, the hint of a smile tugging at the corner of her mouth, threatening to bust out into full bloom.
          “Thank you, by the way,” Granny said, motioning at her plate then digging in. She cut into one of the sausages, popped a piece into her mouth. “Now this is delicious!” she said, waving her fork as if proving a point.
          “Yeah, forget Cracker Barrel, huh?” Lila smiled, wiping down the counter then putting a few items into the dishwasher — the skillet, the spatula, and the bowl she had scrambled the eggs in, then she started hand washing the plastic tub she’d brought from home, which had held the plant-based sausages her grandmother was currently devouring with delight.
          Her mother had said to bring sausages and those were all she’d had at home; she’d been in a rush to do the good deed before work without stopping at the store. Apparently the anti-woke palate was not so discerning; no one had to be the wiser.
The End

Alyce Lomax’s short fiction has appeared in Coffin Bell JournalMenda City Review, GargoyleThe MacGuffinPindeldyboz, and others. She is a resident of Alexandria, VA.