My Grandmother’s Attic

I wrote this for our short story competition at work. The theme was ‘Up in the Attic’.

My Grandmother’s Attic

I keep a crackly video recording on my hard drive. Grandma Betty, the seventies queen, with purple miniskirt and beehive hair. She skips up the chapel steps with her children and smiles a smile I vaguely remember.

The small girl in me can recall her powdery perfume as I open and close her tiny jewellery boxes. In my imagination there are hundreds of these, one necklace per box; her granddaughters find them irresistible. Her bathroom is full of china frogs, and I drown them in bubbles before bedtime. She makes toast better than anyone I know. By then, she must already have been moving her things to the attic.

She moves just little things at first, as though trying to spring-clean her clutter. She forgets our names and mixes our ages. She comes home from the supermarket without her shopping. We retell these stories to make light of them, laughing at family gatherings. Soon more of her furniture is pushed upstairs: she wears two blouses at a wedding, tries to cook eggs in the kettle. Our beloved, captivating grandfather dies. Heartbroken, she still thinks he’s out for a very long walk. She knows she has lost something, but no longer knows what.

Her children, bereft, squabble amongst themselves. Grandma fidgets alone, angrily adrift in a sea of shifting impressions. She grasps for connections that sift through her fingers. There’s a stain on her skirt, and she’s lost her purse. We find it eventually in the oven.

 Oh Grandma-no-longer-my-Grandma, you sit in a featureless room with the nurses downstairs and look out of the window with gooseberry eyes. No perfume, no skipping, no challenging smile. Behind her stare is a vast, empty plain – the floor neatly swept; the attic bare.


9 Thoughts on “My Grandmother’s Attic

  1. Sad and beautiful. I do like the use of the alternate meaning of attic – very nicely done!

  2. racheljeffcoat on 14 December 2009 at 6:17 pm said:

    Thanks! I’ve had this in my head for a while so it was nice to have the excuse to get it out. And it won, too, which is a very welcome bonus 🙂

  3. You should put that on facebook and make the fam feel bad about being mean to her!

  4. racheljeffcoat on 19 December 2009 at 1:40 pm said:

    No one was ever mean to Grandma, Sciss – just mean to each other about Grandma…

  5. what a heartwrencher

  6. Louise Evans on 17 February 2013 at 4:27 pm said:

    I’ve only just found this on here! It is very sad but beautiful written and brought back so many memories of our chilhood. Thanks for your heartfelt words you clever lady 🙂 xxx

  7. Danny on 15 March 2013 at 10:08 am said:

    Very touching Rach….Thank you

  8. This is quite amazing. I love it!

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