by Ruth Robertson

(Winner second prize in the Eastern Writers Group’s 2002 Biggest Little Short Story Competition)

 Grandma’ s house was spooky. Things lurked in cobwebby corners. Things hid behind the clock. The clock talked to itself. It went “Whirr, shuffle, wuffle, BONG” every hour.

Grandma was spooky too. She said funny things and she smelt old. Sometimes she just-sat and stared into space. She remembered her childhood better than what she had for lunch.

There were old things in Grandma’s house. “Don’t touch.” Mum would say, “That’s a valuable antique.” There wasn’t much to play with. Sometimes I would feel bored. Definitely bored. Then Grandma would do something scary and I wouldn’t be bored any more. Just scared. Wanting to go home. Very much.

And sometimes Grandma’s scary friends came over. They’d give me a hug. They smelled funny. And they’d give me a kiss, but it was like they were tasting me, to see if I’d be good to eat. And I’d squirm. And they’d laugh.

Grandma’s cat was mental. It would sit on my pillow. I’d say, “Get off.” And it would hiss and scratch at me. I’d pick it up and throw it out the window. That cat hated me, but that’s O.K. I hated that cat.

Grandma’s canary was a nice little bird. It sat in its cage pulling its feathers out. Pretty soon it was a bald bird. It died. I liked the canary.

Grandma’s friend Wilbur brought lollies. She would say, “You’ll spoil that child, Willbur.” He would answer, “I hope so”, with a chuckle. His hair stood up on end. It didn’t matter because there wasn’t much of it.

When Mum said,” Dad and I are going to Barbados. You’ll have to stay with Grandma”, I said ,”No!” and started screaming. When I started I couldn’t stop. They called the doctor. He said I was a sensitive child with an over-active imagination. He thought it might be good if I went to Barbados too.

I like Barbados.