A Shoebox IX

Posted: October 12, 2010 in #tuesdayserial, A Shoebox

Her Gran looked at her through her slightly misty eyes and smiled. “He’ll be home soon Gem.”

This was no consolation. The girls sat in their grandparent’s sitting room waiting for their brother to return home from his friends. He’d gone to a ‘school’s over party’ the night before with his classmates, celebrating the fact his exams were over and he was now free to make those all important decisions in life of college or work, ambition or fun. Little did he know that there were more important things to deal with when he returned home.

With the death of his mum and the fact he’d been staying with his grandparent’s for nearly a month, everyone was anxious. Their Gran sat in her armchair, with her feet crossed over each other and her hands in her lap. She looked frailer since their mum had died, but Gemma wasn’t sure if this was because of the stress or just because she saw her Gran in a new light. She loved her dearly, but after learning she had been the one to force her mum to put Will’s name on the birth certificate, she wondered how she felt now, this very minute, with all her grandchildren about to learn the awful truth.

It had taken all of Gemma’s energy and will power to not drink the night before, so she could be as level headed as she could be for her brother. But this had its consequences. She felt dreadfully cold, as if someone had turned off her internal thermostat and her hands trembled slightly.

Kim sat, as always, level-headed and calm, but biting her finger nails every few minutes, whilst Jess stood at the window, pacing from side to side to see if she could see him coming down the street.

“This is awful,” Jess said looking back into the room full of her family, who sat ominously starring at watches, clocks and each other, “we’re going to turn his whole world upside down.” She shook her head and tears filled her eyes like a washing machine preparing to rinse. “Who’s going to do the talking?”

Everyone looked at each other, clearly taken back by this question which had left everyone’s minds. That was until all eyes seemed to fall on Gemma. “Erm I’m guessing me then?” she said sarcastically, “thanks guys!”

The itchy feeling in the back of her throat was beginning to burn and her fingers shook independently from her hands.

“Probably for the best dear,” Pops reassured her. He was a gentle giant and had begun to get forgetful in his later years, but he was the same old Pops, quiet but smiley and had always had a soft spot for his eldest granddaughter. He gave a wink and a small smile, which she knew didn’t mean much to anyone else, but it made Gemma smile inside and remembered the same feelings when she’d opened up to him about a boy she’d liked at school. A reassuring wink and a smile from Gramps meant it would be ok and that she’d always have his support no matter what. She wondered how much he knew. Had he been party to the awful scheming to get Will’s name on Ryan’s birth certificate? Had Gran or her dad even told him?

“Jess stop pacing dear, you’re making me even more nervous,” her Gran snapped, “He’ll be home soon. Sit down and take the weight off your feet.”

“I can’t sit still Gran, I’m better off walking it off,” Jess said not even looking back at her Gran from the window.

“Your dad should be here.”

The room was silent as their Gran glared an aggravated look at her husband, for even mentioning it at a time like this.

“No he shouldn’t!” Jess spun around so fast, she nearly sent one of her Gran’s china cats flying from its place on the window sill.

“Ok Jess,” Kim spoke firmly, with her fingers in her mouth, “Lets not start, hey. This is hard enough for us all as it is.”

Like visitors in a hospital waiting room, they all sat or stood, not knowing what to say or do. Eye contact with one another was out of the question, as this could lead to conversation. If they each had microphones inside their heads the room would be filled with more chatter than a classroom full of children whose teacher has left the room, with uproar and chaos soon to follow. Questions; panic; stress; the unknown. They were all agonising over Ryan’s reaction. Their little brother; their only grandson.

Pop’s opened his tobacco tin, and began to roll himself a slithering of a cigarette. The girls had always been fascinated by how he rolled them so tightly, but yet as thin as the Rizla paper itself. The unconscious yet mechanical method was almost a calming influence on each girl, as they watched and then each drew in the first puff of smoke which began to fill the air.

A fly on the wall of that room, would have witnessed each person’s heart skip a beat and gulp a breath, as they heard a key turn in the front door.

It was time.

  1. kathlb says:

    Very good! And now I won’t sleep tonight wondering just what comes next. 🙂

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