Granny Comes to Stay
by Kerry Nesbitt (age 13)
"Granny's coming to stay for Christmas," says Mum casually, as she hangs ornamental angels and long strings of colourful tinsel from the Christmas tree. The room looks very festive, with a long string of cards over the fireplace and a wreath on the door.
"What?" My brother Ben and I stop whacking each other with crackers and stare at her.
"Mum!" She'll give me another doll! groans Ben. "Remember last year? She took me shopping!"
"And what if she insists on cooking the dinner again? I ask. She burnt the potatoes and stuffed the turkey with humbugs."
"Now listen to me, boys," says Mum, suddenly looking stern. "Granny gets very lonely at Christmas. You'll each give her a nice present and not another giant spider, Norman and we'll have a great time." Seeing our doubtful faces, she adds, "She's coming and that's that."
So on Christmas Eve we stand on the slushy street watching the snowflakes fall gently as we wait for Granny's cab to come.
Just as I'm suggesting Santa ambushed her, a black taxi crawls down the street and grinds to a halt in an icy puddle, showering us all. The driver looks very disgruntled as an aggressive-looking cat steps out. And no, I'm not describing Granny.
Then Granny steps out herself, carrying two Marks and Spencer's bags and wearing her usual granny-gear: a cardigan and tartan skirt. Her wild hair was once ginger like Mum's and mine, but the effects of descending from middle-aged old woman to ancient eroding Granny have turned it grey.
Our grumpy old neighbour Mr Wallace tramps into view, dragging along his monstrous dog Lassie. Suddenly all hell breaks loose.
The aggressive cat (called Cutie-Pie as Granny told us later) leaps on Lassie. I expect Lassie to turn it into moggy meat but, surprisingly, the cat scratches poor Lassie's ear and then chases her down the street, before returning, purring, to get tickled by Granny.
We all look at Mr Wallace, expecting him to explode.
"Sorry for troubling you, my good lady," he says in a gooey voice like treacle. Then he looks at Granny, his face like a squashed marshmallow, and drifts off to find Lassie. Wow!
The next morning Ben receives his usual Barbie. He stares at her in disgust. I, however, get a Walkman!
"Great! Thanks, Gran," I say, hugging her. Ben looks furious.
I hand her my present. As she opens the box, the trap springs and a giant water-bomb jumps from the box and bursts over her head.
Mum frowns but Granny roars with laughter as she unwraps my real present, pink flowered hankies.
After dinner we decide to have a furious snowball fight. Ben says haughtily he has better things to do. He's probably going to play with his Barbie.
Mum has to do the washing up. Granny offers to help but is hastily ushered outside.
Granny is brilliant at snowball fights. She whips up a ball of ice, throws it at you, and before you have time to even wipe your face, a new attack comes, and you are so congealed in snow that you must thaw for several hours afterwards.
Mr Wallace is watching us wistfully from behind his grubby curtain.
A week passes. Cutie-pie is not cute. He keeps sneaking into my room and stealing my stuff, but Granny just tells me not to be silly. (Though I do find my Walkman later in Ben's room; Cutie-Pie could have hidden it there, couldn't he?)
Granny goes over to visit Mr Wallace. When I confront her one evening, she says, "He's just lonely, Norman. He's a widower, and now his grandson's gone home he's only got that sweet little dog." I snort into my tea.
On New Year's Eve, Granny offers to nip to Spar and buy some wine and snacks for the party that night. The snow has melted, and it is a cold icy morning.
"Go with Granny, Norman," says Mum in a low voice. "She might slip and fall on the ice."
Sighing, I put on my coat and follow Granny down the street to the local shops. Just as we leave Spar, a horribly familiar voice says, "Well, well, well."
It's Ricky Stewart, looking really cool in a leather jacket and carrying a top-of-the-range skateboard. I wish I hadn't worn my brown woolly fleece and mustard pinstriped trousers.
"Is this one of your little friends, Norman?" asks Granny amid my groans.
Ricky grins wickedly. "Out shopping with Granny, Piggy Pigtail?"
"Yes, Norman's helping his Granny, dear," says Granny, deaf to Ricky's sniggers and blind to my obvious embarrassment. "Where are you going, sweetie?
"Skateboarding," says Ricky, indicating the board.
"Oh, smashing! I love skateboarding! Can I come, dear?"
Ricky looks temporary stunned. Then he grins. "Course you can," he says. I close my eyes and die there on the spot.
"What a nice boy! Come on, Norman," says Granny, dragging me and the shopping bags.
We soon reach the park, and Granny follows Ricky over the sand to the ramps at the end of the park. Several people from school stop and stare. Others whisper and snigger.
"Granny, come home," I hiss, tugging at her hand.
"Wait till I've tried that one, dear," she says cheerfully, pointing.
I gasp. It's twenty feet high, made of sturdy iron, and is known as the Killer Ramp.
"Granny, no!" I say. She ignores me and turns to Ricky. "Borrow your skateboard?" she asks casually.
"Sure," says Ricky, "but you can't do it."
"Can," says Granny childishly.
Before I can stop her, she's put on the helmet, slipped on some shades, and is skating up the Killer Ramp. Kids stop and stare in awe. My heart is thudding. How long will I be grounded for if Granny goes splat?
Amazingly, she reaches the top, skids up and does a perfect flip even Ricky looks impressed and lands back on the board, skirts billowing, dead-cool, and skates smoothly down the ramp, landing beside Ricky to tremendous applause.
"Can!" she says triumphantly.
The following day as we sleep in late after the all-night party in the living room (when Granny got extremely drunk and danced down the street wearing nothing but a string of tinsel), the doorbell rings.
Yawning, I get up, pull on a jacket over my pyjamas and go downstairs.
Standing in the doorway is Ricky Stewart.
He's smiling at me!
He has his skateboard with him again. Maybe he wants to go to the ramps with me!
My heart starts to thump... My head spins... This is it... My big chance to be cool...
"Hello," says Ricky. "Is your gran in?"
©2004 Kerry Nesbitt
Read Kerry's Poetry Competition Entry Here