Saturday 24 June 2023

'Grown Ups' by Gina Headden

We’re on the wrong side of the road. I’ve just turned 7 and I know this, but Grandpa, who is 81, thinks we’re waiting at the right stop for our bus home.

My stomach feels wriggly and I jangle the coins in my pocket, wondering if I should say something. I try my hardest but I can’t keep it in, and all at once I hear my voice telling Grandpa he’s made a mistake.

Grandpa stands up very straight and says he knows what he’s doing, thank you very much. He’s been catching buses since before I was born, has never caught a wrong one yet. My sister who is four-and-a-half clutches my hand, and says nothing, happy as always to let me fix the difficult things while she smiles at everyone, and they smile back.

The bus arrives. Grandpa squeezes my shoulder and says goodbye. He watches us climb on board and, once we have sat down, he waves us off.

When the conductor comes for our fares, I tell him what’s happened and he listens to me as if I’m a sensible girl. The driver radios somewhere called control, and from our red leather seat, my sister and I look on, swinging our legs, my heart tight in my chest. Mum will be looking at the clock on the kitchen wall now, and when I think about Grandpa saying I was wrong, my legs stop swinging and kick hard into open space.

At the terminus, the bus turns a circle and heads back towards home.
Long after we pass the place where Grandpa left us, we reach our stop in the High Street. As my sister jumps down from the bus, I hold tight to her hand, my own not much bigger than hers.

No comments:

Post a Comment

FlashFlood is OPEN for submissions until 27 April 2024!

FlashFlood is OPEN for submissions from 12:01 a.m. BST on Sunday, 21 April to 23:59 BST on Saturday, 27 April 2024. You can read our submi...