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the message by jimbloggin

18 Oct

“…no more messages. Beep.”

The answer machine clicked back to standby and Adam pressed the back button.

“Oh. Er, ah, yes, h-hello Addy, its Grandma, jees you know I hate these machines, I just called to say, um, oh, well, nothing to worry about, just called for a chat, you know, see how you are doing. Nothing to worry about. Take care. Bye..umm, yes lots of love Bye…click..

…no more messages. Beep.”

Isa was Adam’s favourite grandmother, on his mother’s side of the family. Since he was young he had visited her regularly, and he still had fond memories of Friday cakes and Tuesday evening cribbage when he was small and lived a little closer.

She had always been a good ear, and she seemed to always have the right answers. He couldn’t imagine how his mother had been born of such a balanced and wise person.

She often phoned for a chat, to catch up, find out the gossip, ask how work was going on. In the absence of a girlfriend, she had provided the womans perspective, and of course she always made him feel good about himself.

“Well, sounds like she was no good anyway, Addy” she would say after an unceremonial dumping, “she’ll probably wake up screaming, here, have some coffee..”

This message, though, was different, something was not quite right about it…she was always so confident and had an astutely positive perspective on life. A hangover from the war all that positivity, Adam always thought. “Be happy with what you’ve got, Addy, you never know when it’ll be taken away.” she’d say at times of perceived adversity. And deep down he knew she was right, even if things did seem damned awful, at least no one was actually trying to kill him.

He picked up the handset to call her back, and then replaced it again without dialling; maybe it would be better to see her face to face, pretend he hadn’t got the message, allow her time to recompose the story from a fresh perspective. Yes, that would be better.

But what was up? She’d been in for tests, just routine, she had said, maybe…only one good way to find out.

He fixed his hair and slipped on his best brogues and a fresh shirt, good impressions never hurt and if this was serious he wanted to be appropriately dressed.

It was an hour’s drive to Manatu where Isa lived. He worried about her out there all alone, but she wouldn’t budge. Adam had offered to look for a little place in the city for her, a ground floor flat perhaps with a little garden, but one swift look had him back peddling almost before the suggestion had finished forming in his head, let alone by the end of the sentence. She confirmed that idea was about as dumb as it gets with “Addy, I’ve lived here for forty years, me and your grandpa built this place with our own hands, and if you think that I’m gonna let that all go just so you don’t have so far to drive, you got another think coming.”

That wasn’t his point, but it was hers, and he took it as it was intended.

So he drove the hour, occasionally browsing to her number in his mobile and hovering over the green call button, then putting it down again. He could warn her that he was popping over. “The door’s always open Addy” he could hear her say, “there’s no need to warn me of your every motion, I got by before you were around, and I can get by now.”

Her interminable independence sometimes irritated Adam. He was just trying to help, she was getting old and needed him a little more each day, or so he thought, but every time he’d try he’d meet that old mule head on. Maybe he really needed her more than she needed him, and maybe that’s what irritated him.

She was fiercely independent even when Frank was around, even though they were a traditional old-fashioned couple, there was no denying who was the head of the Friar household. Isa would let Frank warm the throne occasionally in the right circumstances, but it was her seat and that was that. But now the time was catching up with her body, and despite her mind, that independence couldn’t go on much longer.

By the time he reached the gate at the end of the long drive, his mind was racing, what on earth could the problem be? She sounded OK, but there was definitely something wrong. She wouldn’t be so vague if there was nothing wrong.

He pulled up in front of the green wooden porch. The garden needed a bit of a tidy up, the lawn needed cutting, some of the shrubs were bordering bushville. Isa had heard his car come up the gravel drive and was standing in the doorway, her favourite checkered apron dusted with flour, hands on her hips and a smile on her face.

“Hey Addy, good to see you!” She called as he stepped out of his SUV, his polished brogues crunching on the gravel as he walked towards her. He did his best to hide his concern, but he knew that it would just end up with a twisted indeterminate expression which she’s see though in an instant.”Hey, nanna, how you doin? I was just, you know, passing, and well..”

As he got closer she reached out her arms and kissed him on his cheek, “I tried to get a hold of you earlier,” she said, “been having a little difficulty with rabbits, I need you to shinny up to the loft and grab me the shotgun.”

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