The Weekly WordPress Writing Challenge is Mind The Gap, and is something about opinion polls. I’ve ignored that and written about generations instead…
Grandad was baby-sitting Charlie.
It was a partnership with established roles. Grandad watched TV and made himself the occasional cup-of-tea. Charlie was the sleeping partner.
Though not always, or it would have been no fun. This evening Grandad smiled happily to himself as he heard small feet on the stairs, then put what he hoped was a stern look on his face as a small head appeared around the door and a smaller voice said “I have a pain”.
Grandad turned off the TV. “And where do you have this pain?”
“In my tooth.”
“The one under my pillow.”
“Whenever one of my teeth falls out I leave it under the pillow, and the tooth-fairy buys it for a Euro. Does she buy yours too?”
“Not exactly. I leave a line of six of them out for her each night, but she has to have them back by morning. It’s a kind of tooth-library.”
Charlie looked suspiciously at him, so Grandad continued “ anyway, the important part of this chat is the bit where you have a pain in a tooth you don’t have.”
“It hurts where the gap is. Maybe it’s the tooth’s ghost.”
“Great try. Now go back to bed.”
“I can’t. It’s like being stabbed with a lightsaber.”
“You can’t get stabbed with a lightsaber.”
“You can so.”
“Lightsabers are pure energy.”
“How do you know that? Did they have Star Wars when you were young?”
“Yes, Charlie. Long, long ago, in a century now sadly far, far away, they had Star Wars. Your Mum had Princess Leia hair.”
“Don’t tell her I told you that.”
“Ok.” They did their secret handshake, which involved fist-bumps, a high-five and a bunched hand held to the heart.
“In that case you can sit up for a while. Do some drawing or something.”
Charlie got his colouring book and worked away for a while. Grandad had a look at the book. A postman had been coloured in entirely in blue scribble, looking as if he had collided with an exploding Smurf.
“That’s really good, Charlie,” said Grandad, “but you should try to keep the colour inside the lines.”
“Because -” Grandad paused. “Do you know Charlie, I have no idea. Have you got another book and some more pencils?”
The two of them were side-by-side, heads bent over their books, when Mum came home. “Why aren’t you in bed?” she said.
“Because I had a pain in -”
“- his tummy,” said Grandad.
“We’ve been doing some really cool drawings, Mum,” said Charlie. “Look at Grandad’s horse.” Mum looked at the book and frowned.
“Why is it green?” she asked. “And why haven’t you kept between the lines?”
“A very wise person once taught me that you don’t have to,” said Grandad, and winked at Charlie.
“Well, take Charlie up to bed,” said Mum. “Really, you shouldn’t have let him stay up so late.”
“Sorry,” said Grandad. He mouthed “Princess Leia” at Charlie, who giggled.
“What are you two laughing at?” said Mum.
“Nothing,” said both of them together. Grandad took Charlie by the hand and they went upstairs. When Grandad came back down Mum was still staring, perplexed, at the green horse. “It was hit by a giant snot,” said Grandad helpfully.
Mum snorted, though fondly. “Honestly, Dad, sometimes you’re as big a child as Charlie.”
“I certainly hope so,” said Grandad. “And I hope I always will be.”