What gets me is the way she went about it. I mean — the invite to go for a drink at The Fountain was on my phone and FaceSpace. I didn’t even realise that she knew about FaceSpace.
So I get myself all done up — I mean, I’d figured some guy had sent it. You know — the way it was worded. And the fact it was The Fountain. I mean — you don’t just go there for an evening with your mates, do you? It’s too pricey, for starters.
So. I’m sitting there. The waiter hits on me — you know — offering to take me for a drive along the beach, later.
And I say, “Maybe.” Not that I make a habit of that kinda thing. But he’s Italian, or something. With that olive skin and dreamy brown eyes they all have. And I think, ‘Well, if I’m stood up after going to all this bother, leastways it won’t have been a total waste.’
And he has a really cute bum.
Mind you, when I see how much they charge for a Drambuie and soda, I nearly ask for a glass of water, instead.
Then she turns up. And when she goes to sit down, I tell her — politely — that I’m waiting for someone. She grins and says that she knows and that it’s her I’m waiting for. You should’ve seen her! Peach gloss lippie and the latest shimmer-glo eyelash extensions. Reckon she could’ve swept the streets with those. And a bright pink wig.
As for her blouse… Well. The word ‘neckline’ doesn’t apply. Neck has nothing to do with it. More like navel-line — with far too much flesh showing on the way down, if you get my meaning.
Of course, Antonio is all over her. Eyeing up her chest like it was the crown jewels. Thought he was going to dribble, at one point. Antonio? The waiter — that’s his name. I hate it when bar staff get over-familiar. I must say, I think it’s a letdown that somewhere like The Fountain lets that kinda thing go on.
And she’s no help. Just giggles and flutters those lash extensions at him.
Well, I’ve had enough by then. That’s when I stand up to go.
And she stops flirting and looks across at me. “Don’t go, pudding chops.”
And I look at her. Partly cos no one else ever called me ‘pudding chops’. But also cos even though she looks so very different — well — unrecognisable, really, there’s something in the way she moves her hands and puts her head on one side.
I mean — she was always there when I was little…
“Gran?” I say.
And she nods.
Well. I sit back down. More like collapse into the chair, really. There’s black spots in front of my eyes and I’m panting.
Even so, I hear the crash as Antonio falls over a chair. As he scrambles to his feet, all his Latin smooth is gone. His eyes are rolling and he’s muttering under his breath.
Gran leans forward, “Oi, Lover-boy. Get a grip. I’ll have a Bacardi and coke and go easy on the coke. And whatever my gr — the young lady is drinking.”
“Drambuie and soda,” I mumble. But I have to say that even the notion of a free drink isn’t cheering me up as much as it should.
Soon as Antonio lurches off, I start, “What’ve you done? Have you gone on one of those TV progs where they slice bits off — ” I don’t bother finishing.
Cos the light mightn’t be that bright in The Fountain — but my Gran was eighty last month. They could’ve stuck enough botox in her face to make it blanker than an M.P.’s mind — and she’d still have plenty of wrinkles. Whereas the woman sitting across the table is late twenties, tops.
That’s when she starts. Apparently, she won the lottery rollover just after her birthday. Fifteen million quid. She reckons that it was the weirdest feeling to sit there with the ticket in her hand and know that everything had changed.
“But,” she tells me — and this sticks in my head, “as you get older, you realise that money and things aren’t worth a damn if you haven’t got your health. If your granddad were still alive, we’d probably’ve done one of those Saga cruises. But next to having him back, what I wanted was a chance to be young and silly.”
She leans back in the chair — and through those lash extensions, her eyes look sad as she explains she grew up during the War, when it was all rationing and drab clothing. And though she’s had a great life with a wonderful man, she just wishes she could’ve had more fun before she settled down.
So she advertises in the paper — a ten million pound prize for anyone who can make her young again. And as luck would have it, in amongst all the fakes and pretenders, this scientist pops up with this stuff called YewthDew. Shows her photos of himself a year ago — looking about twenty years older.
I blink and say, “Twenty? But Gran, you’ve shed more like fifty years.”
Antonio returns with our drinks. No staring at Gran’s breasts this time. He dumps our glasses on the table and almost runs back to the bar.
Gran rootles about in her bag and pulls out a little bottle. She pours about half of the bright green stuff into her booze. “Thing is,” she says, swirling her drink to mix it up, “this chap was all about two drops twice a day. But I don’t have the time to mess about like that.” And then she raises her glass; “To having fun,” she says.
And there I am, joining in. “Cheers,” I say.
While I’m wondering how I’m gonna tell Mum…
S.J. Higbee whiles away her time writing science fiction and fantasy — her sci-fi adventure novel “Running Out of Space” is due out this year with Cyberwizard Publications. When not pottering in the garden or playing with children, Sarah’s latest hobby is teaching others how to become equally obsessed with the written word in her Creative Writing classes.