Sherlock with Ants | Ian Harrison


Sherlock with Ants

Ian Harrison

Hate and Coat Major Contest

Mummy and Daddy always say there’s no-one just like me.

Grand-dad says the same, but without smiling.

But since last week ago, we’ve been at the hop-spittle every day. Since Grand-dad stroke something. I can’t touch peanuts, but I don’t know what he’s lergic to. Must be stroking dogs or cats or bunnies or something. And he’s been sleeping and pinging and dripping ever since and I never knew how many relations we had.

And I have my father’s eyes and smile and mother’s ears and colouring and freckles.

And I only know about eleven people including Grand-dad because he moved into my playroom when Grand-ma went to heaven.

The hospital people make me hug them and they pinch my cheeks and they make me put my tablet away. And they give tablets to Grand-dad but they’re so small they don’t have any games on them. He gets forgetful and swallows them and they say he’s hanging on but going downhill fast.

Except he’s not, because the ground’s flat and his bed has wheels instead of legs and it would roll away but nobody listens to me. So I charge my tablet up, because I can only use Daddy’s good one for my hour when he’s not taken it to work but he’s at home or hospital with Mummy and me all the time now.

And the hospital strangers talk about wills and states and power tourneys and it makes Daddy angry and Mummy puts her arm on his and she makes him go for a walk and come back later stinking of smoke. And he calms down again and he looks at me and says would I prefer a baby brother or sister but I’d rather a puppy and he laughs but I know what I want and I get in trouble if I fib.

He ruffles my messy blonde hair that throws back and says it’ll all be back to normal soon.

And it is.


Except we’re staying at home now, and all these hospital people have found us again, and fortunately Mummy remembers all their names and everything about them. There’s even more I’ve never met. And Aunty Sara and Uncle Phil and Millie and Beth are here all the time of course and they’re all sorry for our loss, but it’s their loss too and I don’t know exactly what’s lost. All my toys are still in my toybox.

Even the noisy old ones Grand-dad broke accidentally on purpose.

People start with ‘sorry’ and don’t know what to say afterwards, so the house is full of silence and pictures of Grand-dad. And left-behind umbrellas and jackets and stinky candles and even stinkier rotten flowers and people sniffing from the stink and not knowing what to say.

Except, sometimes they hug, sometimes they cry and sometimes they shout and the shouting makes them cry all over again and slam doors and screech tyres and go home. And before they come back, Daddy sighs and smokes and says a rude word about families and asks what kind of puppy should we get, instead of a baby brother or sister, and laughs like he’s said something funny, but it’s too late now, he says.

And the hospital people come back over for their jackets and to say sorry and Mummy and Daddy are sorry too and they cry and hug again but they’re not the big warm cuddles that Mummy gives me when Grand-dad upsets me with his whisky yelling or when I skin my elbow.

And they talk about waking up and music and services and Ulysses and argue about what Grand-dad would like and poor bears and coughing, even though no-one’s sick, not even Grand-dad.

He’s gone to see Grand-ma and Mummy doesn’t know when he’ll be back but he has to collect his snoring machine that Mummy’s packed away. And my tablet device has Apps to talk to people but when I try pressing Grand-dad’s button, he just says he’s busy and will call back when he can. And Grand-dad says what he means and means what he says so I know he will.

And when Mummy says I’m being silly, I show her and she gets angry and sad and excited all at once. And she says don’t do it again but then she sneaks outside and tries it for herself, over and over again, when she thinks no-one’s watching.

And my cheeks hurt from all the pinching and they talk about sugar and coats but nobody’s hungry for anything sweet and they forget their jackets again and have to come back around for them and Daddy says are we running a nop shop now?

And now I have Mummy’s eyes and Daddy’s lips and Grand-dad’s craft and some things skip a veneration. But I don’t skip. Girls like Millie and Beth skip.

Boys play cops and robbers and slingshots and Sherlock with mag-fying glasses and ants.

And do I know how to tie my shoes and am I going to school yet and who is my kindy teacher then and is she nice and who are my friends and do I like playing sport. And they still get my name wrong and say I’m shy and I’m not but I keep getting told to talk to people who don’t talk, and play on your tablet later.

I’m allowed an hour a day and can even plug it in, all by myself, I say. And with the house hot and full of people, Daddy gets mad and then has a funny look on his face when he sees the wheely air-conditioner pulled out.

And he watches me tidy up for bed even though I have to unpack all of my toys, all over again tomorrow morning for the other kids to play with. And with the same funny look on his face, he watches me walk over to the wall and plug my tablet in to recharge for the night.