Pablo Romeo CC
When my grandparents died – 18 months apart
my sister inherited my grandad’s captain’s chair.
I took the three piece suite, soft grey with velvet
fabric that I’d smoothed over and over again
as I hung upside down, reading, when we visited every Wednesday.
I had a house to furnish; my sister simply rented
an old, converted stable too small for her, her boyfriend and their dog.
But she kept my grandad’s captain’s chair in the kitchen,
the same room it lived in when my grandad was alive
and we grew from babies strapped in with sheer brown tights to teenage girls.
We all sat there, at different times, me, my mam, my uncles.
gran and grandad, family friends, wrapped in the warmth
of the aga and the steaming kettle and the smell
of currants as my gran made Welsh cakes on the hob
and talked about our days, the books we read, who’d been born, married and died.
I bought a new three piece suite, donated the old one
with its faded cushions and patched up arms.
My sister, her boyfriend and their dog have
their own house now, the chair used daily in the living room.
Its polished seat, faded and worn through years of use, sometimes catches the sun and gleams.
Before the wake
We sat in the kitchen perched
and the thin wooden windowsill
when the funeral director took my gran away.
We avoided looking at the living room,
the rise and fall of the glass-paned-door which turned the
dark draped men and
shrouded body into Monet ripples
moving in another time.
We sat in the kitchen and breathed in gran,
the faint scent of Welsh cakes, sugar bells
on Christmas cake, toffee boiled in a saucepan on the stove.
The chair where my grandad sat she tied me into,
with an old pair of tights,
when I was two
so she could cook and bake and watch me at the same time.
The table my sister leaned against the same one she kneeled at
mixing flour, eggs and sugar
and licking the spoon clean when she thought gran wasn’t looking.
We began to talk
to hide the noises coming beyond the door,
the muffled thuds
of furniture being moved and directions being given.
Of the time my mother was small
and balanced on the edge
of the bridge
over the road
when the neighbour saw and threatened to tell.
Of the time my gran
from the eighth of hash my uncle brought
to help ease her arthritis
and saw the ghost of my grandad walking through the living room
while he sat beside her on the settee.
and rocked with laughter while the tears
ran down our cheeks,
until the thuds and mutters stopped
in the next room and the funeral director opened the door and gazed at our smiles.
Bethan Jones is an academic, a flash fiction writer and a poet from south Wales. Her academic work, which primarily focuses on anti-fandom and digital dislike, has been published in Sexualities, New Media & Society and the Journal of Fandom Studies and she is co-editor of Crowdfunding the Future: Media Industries, Ethics, and Digital Society. Bethan is a former Beacons Project and Cinemagic participant and received her MA in the Teaching and Practice of Creative Writing from Cardiff University. Her creative work has been featured in The Binnacle and The Pygymy Giant.
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