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(A short story of 2450 words)

Grandma and Polly


by Vivien Jones

My mother always said I didn’t notice much but in those last weeks in Malta; even I felt urgency like a held breath over everything. My sister and I were despatched to our room to clear out just about everything because of the weight restriction on the plane and we fell to quarrelling about whether her ballet books were more important than my drawing books.
‘Do be sensible, you two. They won’t let us on the plane and then what?’ Mother warned darkly.

‘Where will we go? We don’t have a house in England any more.’ I asked, picturing us wandering the streets in search of shelter.

‘We’re going to Grandma’s to start with while we wait for a naval house in St Budeaux.’ Mother snapped, far from happy with the plan. She and Grandma didn’t get on.

* * * * *

I had been six when I last saw Grandma but all I remembered was the smell of mint imperials which she sucked one after the other, and the look of damp face powder that clung to her thin-skinned, blue veined face. I was ten now and ready to remake her acquaintance, but what I really wanted to see was her inseparable companion, Polly the parrot, who was ancient, fierce and ugly and who could reduce a wooden cotton reel to needle thin splinters in half an hour with her chisel beak. I could sit for hours watching Polly pacing up and down her perch, dipping her silver grey head to some rhythm only she heard, stopping to crack open a sunflower seed from time to time...

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