My Gran Has A Secret
Phoebe Evans, Grade 10, Townsville Grammar School -
My Gran has a secret and I am the only one who knows it. She told me one early-autumn afternoon while we sat on the porch of her house in the retirement village, watching the ducks squabble as they swam in the pond. An elderly couple were feeding them bread from the bank while a lone gentleman watched from a wooden bench. A gentle breeze was blowing, its crispness a sign of the cooler months ahead. The leaves had already begun to turn, and I watched as two of deep maroon left their branch, dancing around each other until they reached the ground.
Gran had been at the village for almost three months now and finally seemed to be settling in. Even the dementia which had placed her there initially looked as if it was being kept at bay. As the only grandchild living close enough, I came to visit as often as I could, usually twice a week. She had a soft spot for me and I loved hearing her stories, real or not. She made the best chocolate cake and always had time to listen to my problems. I loved with all my heart.
However, this particular evening I could sense that something was not quite right. Despite the peaceful scene, I sensed tension in Gran. Under the table she twisted the gold band of her wedding ring up and down her finger, the lines on her face appearing even more pronounced.
“Gran,” I said tentatively, “is something wrong?” She looked up, startled from her apparent distress.
“Well, yes dear, something is rather wrong.”
“Are you alright?” I began to panic. “Do I need to call someone? Is your chest tight?”
“Oh no, no dear, nothing like that. Please sit back down,” she said with a kind smile. “I have something to tell you.” There was a glint in her eye, though she was still nervously fiddling with her ring.
“What is it Gran?” I asked patiently.
“It’s a secret. A secret that must stay between you and I.” With that she presented her wrinkled pinky-finger to me. I rose my own to meet it and they locked tightly in pact.
“A secret,” I repeated.
Gran breathed deeply, releasing a heavy sigh. Her gaze met mine and then she began.
“I am not supposed to be here, dear. My memory is perfectly fine – I’m not even taking the medication.”
“But Gran,” I protested, “you must!”
“No dear, you can test me, I don’t need it.”
“Your wedding date,” I tried.
“March 23, 1957,” she replied quickly.
“July 20, 1969.”
“What did you have for lunch today?”
“Toasted ham and tomato sandwich,” she said smiling.
“Not bad Gran!” I laughed.
The concerned had returned to her face.
“They have me trapped. I have to get out of here!”
“Don’t worry Gran, I’ll figure something out,” I said as I turned reluctantly to leave.
“Thank you,” she smiled. “And what was your name again?”