Tilly, bouncing up and down on her grandfather’s lap, asked, “Why have you got hair sticking out of your nose?”
“Yes, Granddad. Why?”
This from Diane, sitting across from him, knitting a scarf for Tilly.
Jed glared at her over the top of Tilly’s head.
“When you get old, hair grows out of your nose.”
“So will I have hair growing out of my nose when I get old too?”
“Then why doesn’t Grandma have hair growing out of her nose?”
“She doesn’t like them so she pulls them out.”
“Doesn’t that hurt, Grandma?”
“I don’t have hair growing out of my nose, dear.”
“But Grandad just said you did!”
“Grandad wouldn’t know. He hasn’t looked in my nose or anywhere else for a long time,” she said acidly.
“Granddad, Mummy always says telling fibs is wrong. You told me a fib!”
“It’s not a fib if you’re mistaken and I was mistaken about hair in Grandma’s nose,” Jed said defensively.
“So will I get hair growing out of my nose when I get old?”
“Oh good. I would have to pull them out because I think it looks yucky, and that would hurt. Is that why you don’t pull yours out?”
Jed shifted uncomfortably, aware that Diane was awaiting his answer with great interest.
“I gave Grandad a nose hair clipper that gets rid of nose hair and it doesn’t hurt a bit.”
“Really? So why don’t you use it, Grandad?”
Jed was silent for a moment, then said quietly, “I can’t find it.”
In an exasperated voice, Diane said, “I know exactly where it is. Why didn’t you ask me?”
“I thought you’d have a go at me for losing it.”
“If Grandma tells me where it is, do you want me to get it for you, Granddad?” Tilly said brightly.
“No,” Jed sighed.
“I’ll get it and use it, seeing it upsets everyone so much.”
He looked at Diane.
“Top shelf, bathroom cabinet, behind the packet of tampons,” she told him.
“I looked there,” he protested.
“Really? You picked up my packet of tampons and looked behind it?”
“No, I don’t touch your stuff,” he muttered.
“Only because feminine hygiene products freak you out. You’re such a dinosaur, Jed.”
He got to his feet, depositing Tilly gently on his chair and lumbered out of the room.
“Why did you call Grandad a dinosaur Grandma? He doesn’t look like a dinosaur,”
“Because he’s old and should be extinct.”
“It’s too hard to explain, Darling. One day when you’re older, maybe, I’ll tell you all about it. If I’m still around,” she muttered to herself.
She got up.
“Why don’t we go down to the park for a play?”
Sitting on a park bench watching Tilly happily playing with other children, Diane thought about what she had said earlier about not being around. She was still in her forties but felt she had pretty much wasted a lot of her life already. Jed was ten years older. It wasn’t really his fault he had turned into a staid, do nothing stick in the mud, just like his father. The old man had raised him along with his two brothers after their mother had died when they were quite young. He was never going to change. She had only married him because she had been pregnant with Alicia, Tilly’s mother.
It was not going to be easy. Jed doted on Tilly, but even if she wasn’t there, he’d still be able to see her as often as he did now. She had some serious thinking to do.
‘No,’ she told herself. She had decided. She couldn’t do this anymore. Alicia would be devastated. She adored her father, but she would cope. Many of her friends’ parents were divorced. Diane was resolved. She was entitled to some sort of life where she was happy, a lot happier than she was now.
Her mouth twisted. Jed might have his nose hair today, but she’d be gone tomorrow.