By Anne Howkins
Granny loved the little Guatemalan dolls I gave her after my South American gap year. She seemed smaller than last time I saw her, but I guess that’s what happens with old ladies.
Grandpa seemed oblivious to her shrinkage. He kept himself occupied in the shed, garden, or pub; providing there was food on the table, a clean shirt on a hanger, and a fire in the hearth he was content. Granny said, “He’s always been that way, won’t ever change.”
Home for Christmas, I had to bend down to kiss her soft cheek and catch the hint of violet behind her ears. She’d sewn herself a rainbow dress and scarf, like the ones the dolls wore. “That really suits you granny,” I’d said.
By the Easter break, she barely reached my waist. She was too small to reach the rings on her ancient cooker. I asked grandpa what they were eating. He shrugged, pointed to the packets of cereals on the table, cans of beans in the pantry. I took them a Tupperware container of stew and an Easter egg when I visited, but I don’t think they liked my cooking.
Granny couldn’t reach the twin-tub, either. Grandpa wore the same shirt until it stank, then hung it out in the rain until the sun dried it. Granny, though, still smelt violet sweet; her dress was spotless even though she wore it all the time. I’d have done some washing for them, but the laundry basket was empty.
When I got back from Ibiza, granny was so small I thought she’d get lost. Grandpa was holed up in his shed, unshaven and ranting.
So, I popped granny in my pocket with the little dolls and brought her home.
I tell her my worries every night, and tucked inside a tiny, brightly colored bag, I slide her under my pillow while I sleep.