Aunt Anna by Colette Watson
She was the most glamorous person I’d ever seen, our Mum’s younger sister.
This was the end of the fifties; wide skirts with net petticoats, earrings and long beads, coloured belts, Anna loved them all. And she smelled wonderful, sometimes richly spicy, sometimes a garden full of flowers
Mum was lovely; warm, soft and cuddly. But Anna wore lipstick- Mum had no time for that! And she wore sparkly bangles, painted nails and always, always a huge topaz ring.
The too rare evenings she came over to babysit me and my sister were the most exciting nights of our lives. We played with her beads, tried her hats and clattered around in high heeled shoes. Bed time always came too soon and we were never happy to go.
‘Well girls,’ our wonderful auntie would whisper, finger to lips, ‘if you’re very, very good I might ask the Ring for a story.’
We were tucked up cosy and quiet as fast as she could turn the Topaz three times round her finger.
She’d sit on the edge of our bed, fingers stretched toward us and together we’d gaze deep into the heart of the gemstone, secrets glinting in its many faces. And soon Anna would whisper,
‘Look now, See? There’s a little girl…..’ and so it began. Simple tales transformed in a tawny world. Us in thrall to the spell of the Story Ring.
How we begged to wear it, just for a moment. If only we could really, really see what Anna spied in there. We just knew if we could get our hands on the Ring…
But its power was bestowed on her alone. Her mystery. Her magic.
‘One day,’ she’d murmur. ‘One day you’ll find your own.’
We closed our eyes and wished.