A Memory, A Reconciliation and An Intruder | Amy Short

Smashed windows aren’t the only plaguing this family.


 A Memory, A Reconciliation and An Intruder

Amy Short

To The Nines Award – Part 1


“…And then she said, Richard, don’t touch my shit, and I promise, it’s the first and only time I’ve ever heard Granny swear.”

The group roared with laughter and drew sparing looks from those around them. They stifled their laughs and sipped from their drinks. They supposed that laughing and joking wasn’t suitable for a funeral.

Patricia Wise, a name complementary to her personality, was eighty-two when she passed. There were no sad, ill-stricken dying days to end, no long hospital stay or night-time disaster. It was just plain, old age. Nothing special, over extravagant or well documented – much like the present.

There were around forty people; her children, her grandchildren and a few of the pensioners she lived by. The Church ceremony was a simple one, the few basic prayers and a touching eulogy from her ‘secret’ favourite, Emily. Her words had her own mother in tears and a quick dash for a packet of tissues.

Now it was time for Jack’s turn, the simplest and joking of the nine grandchildren. He grabbed a glass and tapped it lightly to gain the crowd’s attention. He climbed onto a nearby table and guided the last pairs of eyes towards him.

“You all know that we’re here today to celebrate my Grandma’s life. Firstly, I’d like to say thank you to all of you for coming. I remember most fondly the small sweetie jar she used to have next to the door. Even on the coldest of days, we had to stand outside, lined up nicely and as we walked in, give her a kiss of the cheek and she would give us a sweet. The only rule was that if you tried to push in or started shouting, you had to go to the back.”

The many grandchildren all smiled fondly at the memory and subconsciously reached for one of the many sweets laid out in homage to the tradition.

“Anyway, enjoy the evening, feel free to look through the photo books and to Granny.”
Everyone raised their glasses and toasted to the woman who had created their family.

The drinks were flowing, anecdotes being thrown around and there was always a crowd next to the photos. One stood out in particular. On the left was Geraldine, an elderly neighbour of Patricia’s who always had it out for Richard. She was standing next to all nine grandchildren, the eldest no older than eight and the youngest just a baby, secure in her arms.

Geraldine stood next to Martha, an extended family member, listening absentmindedly whilst the older woman took her through the children. When she came to Richard, she scowled. A gentle cough from behind caught her attention and she turned.

“Yes?”

“Geraldine, how lovely to see you,” Richard greeted. He had managed to avoid her for the evening but Jack, the resident clown, had drawn her to him.

“I wish I could say the same.”

“It wasn’t even me, I was nowhere near the window.”

“I saw you, you kicked that football and smashed my window. Your Gran would never believe me, that’s why we fell out. I forgave her though.”

“Oh, how generous of you,” Richard commented.

“This is why you fell out? Because you thought he smashed a window?” Jack interjected.

“Yes, he broke my prize vase and destroyed my shrubs. Stupid, Arsenal ball.”

“The red ball with black marker all over it?”

“That was actually me,” Jack confessed. “Richard took the blame for me because he didn’t want me to get in trouble. I was going to confess but when you confronted all of us together, you said you didn’t condone lying and Richard said it would get us both into trouble if I admitted it so I didn’t.”

“Well, I see we have come to a sticky situation. Richard, I apologise.”

“I accept your apology, it was more my fault anyway.”

Geraldine began to speak but was interrupted by a loud crash and a sequence of swearing. The late visitor stood and made his arrival noticeable to the family and friends.

“I see you’ve started this off nicely. Eight ickle grandkids and me makes nine. I see my invite was lost in the post.”

“Cam, go home, you’re not welcome here.”

“She was my Gran too.”

“I know but she didn’t want you here. She made that clear away you trashed grandad’s funeral smashed off your face.”

Cam sat down and flung his feet up onto the nearby table.

“Nah, I’m here to stay.”