That evening I drove Nanna and Bea back to my house. To me it was a house at that moment in time.
Home seemed a stretch.
Walking in, I felt like I was in someone else’s living space. There was a dominating sense of eeriness hanging in the air.
“Would you like anything, Grandma? Tea, coffee, a sandwich?” I asked. I sounded louder than I’d intended. Almost asserting my authority to the atmosphere, the air, the unseen being hanging the background.
“Tea please, dear” Nan replied softly.
I put the kettle on the stove. It was one of those old fashioned ones.
I was sorting Bea out, ready for bed when came the piercing whistle and biolent bubbling, signalling the kettle had boiled. I should have taken note that it was a sign of the night to come.
Many times throughout the evening I checked, double checked, triple checked that Nanna definately wanted to stay the night.
Whatever was in there didnt like me. It clung on to Bea’s youth and innocence.
The time came where it was bedtime for us.
We creeped into Bea’s room, ready to set up our video recorder.
I checked on my baby. She was sound asleep, clutching her favourite blue, velvet teddy bear, making tiny snoring noises and snuffling along with her dreams.
I turned to Grandma who has set her bed up on the floor.
“Are you sure?” I asked.
“Sure as I’ll ever be, sweetie” she replied with a cheery smile.
I dont know whether she was trying to kid me or herself that it would be okay but it didnt work.
I gave her a hug. It seemed like 10 years had passed before I let her go. I breathed in her perfume, letting it penetrate my nostrils. I pulled away trying not to choke up, being strong.
“I love you, Nanna” I whispered.
“I love you more, sweetheart” was her emotional reply.
I kissed her on her soft cheek and left the room begrudgingly. I did not want this to happen.
* * * *
It must have been 3 hours before I fell
asleep without realising it.
I woke up with a start, almost crying, sweating and shakey.
My alarm clock read 02.26am.
My thoughts immediately turned to Grandma. Was she safe? Was she asleep?
Listening out through the darkness I couldnt hear anything. Unlike the last few nights, Bea was silent. There were no voices. No giggling. If anything there was a faint sound of Nanna snoring peacefully.
I tried to slide back into my sleeping zone, rolling over and repositioning the blankets to provide some warmth amid the frosty air.
Probably 20 minutes passed when I was woken by an earsplitting howl of pain.