The strawberry plant on the patio only grows one strawberry at a time. It looks like a bright red lantern. I almost don’t want to eat it but also I do. I’m saving it for Mum. She’s been out a long time, so she’s probably hungry. She’s only gone up to Capstone Hill. She likes it when the tide’s in. She says it helps her think.
Dad’s gone to live with a lady who smells of Grandma’s geraniums and has hair the same colour as Barbie’s. Mum says she needs to sort out her roots, but I haven’t seen her garden yet so I don’t know about that.
Mum’s been cross ever since he moved out. She shouts at things in the kitchen a lot and the other day she snapped a pencil just because a letter came, even though letters are always coming and normally she just says they’re junk. I’m not cross though. I’m a bit sad that we can’t all have dinner together anymore, but it doesn’t really matter. Anyway, he says we’ll have more fun than ever on the Sundays I see him, so I think it’s good.
The rain starts falling on the patio: slow, fat drops. It makes the strawberry look like the kind of strawberry you get on yogurt adverts. I’m hungry. I think it must be past dinnertime because it’s light at dinnertime in the summer.
The front door opens. It’s Grandma!
She’s crying. I didn’t know grandmas cried. When she hugs me I can feel wet in my hair, and she squeezes so hard that I can hardly breathe.
“Would you like the strawberry?” I say when she lets me go. It’s the best thing I can think of to cheer her up. “I was going to save it for Mum, but it’s okay.” She cries even harder, more like a girl or a boy than a grandma. It’s weird.
“Mummy will be back soon,” I say. It comes out so quietly that I don’t know whether I said it out loud or just in my head.
This story was first published in Ariadne’s Thread, 2014