by J. L. HARLAND
Miss G Thumb by Justin Carmody | Flickr
‘Where the hell have you been?’
Steven shrugged when he saw Dad’s frowning face. ‘Just went to the shop.’ He looked at the floor and leaned against the wall. Best to look casual, unfazed. Hope the storm passed.
‘Don’t lean against that wall. It’s just been decorated. I hope you didn’t get close to anyone. Grandma’s vulnerable and she –‘
Grandma appeared like the genie in the lamp. She winked at Steven.
‘Shut up, Paul. I asked the lad to go. Get some ciggies for me. I ran out.’
Steven saw Dad’s face was red and he clenched his fists at his side. Grandma had that effect.
‘Mother, really. You should give up. . . with this virus –‘
‘If it wasn’t for this bloody virus I’d be at home and I could do whatever I liked. Smoke myself silly. Turn into a bonfire. I don’t know why I can’t go home.’
Grandma pouted while Dad fumed. Steven resisted the urge to laugh as he saw Dad take a deep breath and speak through gritted teeth.
‘Because there’s a lockdown. Believe me, if I could send you home I would.’
Grandma rolled her eyes at Steven. ‘Well, don’t take it out on your son. It’s not Stevie’s fault. You need to calm down a bit, especially with your blood pressure. Come on, Stevie. Out to the shed with me while I have a little puff.’
She marched out, muttering under her breath. ‘Just because I’m over seventy. I’m not bloody dead yet.’
The shed was a jumbled mess of odds and ends with one chair and a pile of boxes. A cobweb draped in one corner with a dead spider. Grandma flopped down on the chair.
‘Well, did you get any?’
Steven took a plastic bag out of his pocket and some cigarette papers and saw Grandma’s eyes light up.
‘Now my boy. Let me show you how to roll a joint with three papers.’
Stephen perched himself on an old toolbox, hoping he wouldn’t go through the lid. Did Grandma really think he didn’t know how to do that? He was surprised she couldn’t smell the remains of the last one lingering in the shed. He was startled by her sudden cackle.
‘I’ve got a better idea. We’ll bake cakes.’
If Mum was surprised at Grandma wanting to bake a cake with Steven, she said nothing. She let them have the kitchen while she sat in the garden with a magazine. Dad had calmed down and was fiddling at his motorbike project in the garage. An hour later and a tray of delicious cupcakes sat on the cooling tray, just waiting to be eaten.
Steven had never seen Mum and Dad dancing before. They weren’t half bad. The Beatles were Grandma’s choice. He found himself sitting on the floor with a big smile on his face. Gran sat leaning against him.
Dad came past, swaying and singing along. He winked at Steven.
‘Don’t think I don’t know what was in that cake.’
Mum stared up at Dad. ‘What do you mean? It was delicious. Didn’t know your mother was such a fabulous baker.’
Gran nudged Steven. ‘See. Good idea, wasn’t it? Tell that to your mates. Baking in lockdown is very popular. It just needed an extra ingredient to help everyone relax.’
One voice - two authors. J. L. Harland is the pseudonym used by co-authors Jacqueline Harrett and Janet Laugharne. These two work together to pen stories and have fun giving their protagonists problems to solve. So far they’ve written a novel, novella and collection of short stories and flash fiction. They also write independently and examples of their work can be seen on their beautiful website at jlharland.co.uk where they blog about all things writerly and review some lovely books. You can find them on Twitter and Facebook @JLHarlandAuthor and on Instagram @jlharlandauthor.