Saying Goodbye to Grandfather



by M. J. Waller

We shuffled out of the alley, took a right turn and bore down slowly upon Avonlea Care Home for Elderly Zombies.  When we reached the cast iron gates, my father buzzed the intercom to gain access and they swung open ponderously in front of us.  My father made to step inside the grounds but I held back, suddenly fearful and not so keen to see my grandfather any longer.

“Come on, Calum,” my father urged.  “It'll be fine, really.”

I still hung back, not particularly convinced.  The care home was nothing like I imagined it would be.  Thin grass speckled the vast grounds and, here and there, dotted about mostly in areas closer to the cracked pathway, the odd flower grew, sometimes even in bunches of five or six.  A single tree stood a short distance from the gate and not only did it look alive and healthy, but my eyes caught movement high up of a squirrel darting between the branches. . .no of two squirrels racing each other to the tree's crown. . .of three, of four!  A bird burst from out of the upper foliage.

“Come on.”I tore my eyes from the flying bird and glanced again into the grounds.  It was all just so unnatural.  My father held out a hand and I darted towards it, anxious for the touch of something I could depend on, something safe.  Even the smell here was all wrong.  The reassuring reek of death I associated with the safe havens of home, friends' houses and even school, was in this place only a mild stench.

“That's it,” comforted my father.  “We'll just make it a quick visit. We won't be long, I promise.”





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