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Sport 40: 2012



Grandpa’s aortic valve replacement lasted ten years. After his death everything unravels. His hidden stash of shares proves to be worthless.

‘Why doesn’t anyone in this house want to talk about him?’ No one responds. Gran is Earth Mother. She’s taken care of everyone, always. And now they tell me it’s all been a farce? This summer Gran has a friend staying with her. Aino is knobbly like an alpine birch, her voice rasping in her throat. She smokes and drinks like a six-foot sailor on

24-hour leave. Our laughter gathers in the leaves of the linden tree in front of the house, a reminder of old times. Across from the main building is the cottage where I spent most of my childhood summers. The farmhand and his family have moved away, after bringing up seven children and grandchildren without running water or a toilet in the house. Left behind is a cottage that used to bristle with life but now stares at us with vacant eyes. Suddenly I notice Gran has disappeared. My Mum and aunt ignore me. ‘Why don’t you go and see if she needs help then,’ my aunt finally says and lights another cigarette. I find Gran in her bedroom, bewildered, as she stares at two nylon pantyhose legs in her hands—one attached to her left leg, the other to her right leg.

‘Had an accident,’ she says, cheeks burning. I’m sorry to have caused her such embarrassment. ‘Here, let me help you.’ I peel off two pairs of pantyhose. Somehow, she’s managed to use only one leg of each pair and is left with two empty legs that have no visible home. She’s relieved when I dangle both pairs in front of her. ‘It didn’t add up,’ she sighs. I suggest she’d better take some longs. ‘The mosquitoes . . .’ She nods and then she grabs my wrist. ‘I’m not silly. I understand something is happening to me, but I can’t figure out what. Mostly, it’s fine. When I’m in the other world, I’m fine too. It’s when the two connect . . . when I realise the silly things . . .’ We hug and cry and I tell her I love her, no matter what. I clean up the bathroom and give her some space to dress before we join the others. For my wedding she gives me a powder-blue jumper that looks like it’s been knitted by a spider on LSD.