Dippy Eggs and Toast
Kim sat alone in the hall, perched on the stool next to the telephone table, watching the pendulum of her grandmother’s grandfather clock as it twitched from side to side. She hadn’t known they were meant to swing until earlier that year, when school visited Osborne House and saw Queen Victoria’s clock. Kim’s gran had said theirs twitched because it was younger, so it did a more modern dance, but mum’s boyfriend laughed in the car and told her it was because it was a cheap knock-off. It didn’t matter to Kim, it still marked the time, every empty second of it.
As sunlight poured ignorantly through the glass panels of gran’s front door, marking shapes and angles on the familiar carpet, Kim wondered when she’d start crying. Her mum, and Auntie Jo, had been in tears most of the morning, but it hadn’t happened for Kim. Instead she just sat, blank-faced, replaying the moment her head, and trying to make sense of it.
Kim had slipped out of bed as soon as she’d heard Gran coughing early that morning, while everyone else was still sleeping. It was something they’d made a habit of that summer, Kim couldn’t sleep properly in her temporary room, and Gran was always up way earlier than anyone else, so Kim had started sneaking in to snuggle in her big bed. They’d talk about school, or Gran would tell stories about Grandad. Sometimes they’d play with make-up, or paint nails, always the same colour, the one that matched Gran’s satin slippers. Eventually Gran would get up, and go make breakfast for them both: dippy eggs and toast - coffee for Gran, milkshake for Kim - and they’d eat in bed while watching cartoons, and wait for the house to wake up.
This morning had been no different to begin with. Gran had been a little sluggish, but Kim knew she sometimes took a while to wake up fully, and was always gentle until she had. They cuddled a little, and Kim listened while Gran talked about a silly thing Grandad had done while they were courting. Kim loved it when Gran called it ‘courting’, she’d done the same at school once, but the laughter made it very clear not to do it again. While Gran talked, Kim turned to lay on her belly, and occupied herself painting Gran’s toenails, the same purple shade as always.
It was when Gran stopped talking that Kim turned round, the sentence had finished but the story hadn’t, and the listener looked to find out why. Gran smiled back, and then, she was gone. Kim blinked her eyes and stared at the object which used to be her gran. It was the most clear thing in Kim’s world that it wasn’t her gran anymore, but that was all she did understand.
Eventually, Kim slid off her gran’s bed and went to knock on the room her mum was sleeping in, handing over control to the bleary-eyed woman who opened the door.
Now the adults were busy upstairs, and Kim sat below, watching the pendulum twitch on her grandmother’s grandfather clock.