It’s time for another instalment of Granny Battle and Ellis – once again uncut, un-edited, splurged out and fresh as a newly laid cow-pat…
‘It’s all to do with seeing, y’see,’ said Granny Battle over her shoulder, stirring the contents of the frying pan vigourously. She’d scooped the gloopy brown goo from the floor back into the pan, then scraped a few evil-looking greenish-brown berries from the back of Ellis’ pants and the bottom of shoes, and added them to the mixture. ‘Crackleberries,’ she’d said, ‘can’t waste ‘em. You stomped right through my crop.’
Ellis was sitting at the kitchen table feeling odd. He couldn’t stop sneaking glances at his t-shirt which was now minus one singed hole, and rubbing the hair on the side of his head that a few minutes ago had been stubble, and was now the normal tangle. He wasn’t quite sure how she’d done it. Actually, he wasn’t quite sure if he wanted to know how she’d done it. The side of his head felt… twinkly, for want of a better word – and he was very aware that twinkly wasn’t a good word for a boy. But that’s definitely how it felt.
Granny Battle gave the frying pan a vigorous shake, then turned the heat down and sat down at the table opposite him.
‘Seeing is what I does, and that’s what makes me a slooth.’ She folded her arms and leaned back in her chair. ‘I’ve been watching you, Ellis, since you were a toddler. You’ve got a bit of the see about you. You take after your dad.’
Ellis suddenly and felt himself going red, and a little surge of anger made his head feel cloudy.
‘What do you know about my dad?!’ he said hotly.
Granny leaned forward and rested her crossed arms on the table. ‘I knows lots. I knows he’s lost. And I knows where he is.’ She stuck her finger in her ear and wiggled it, then removed it and examined the tip. ‘I just don’t knows yet how to find him.’
Ellis was so shocked he forgot to be shocked when Granny wiped the tip of her finger on her cardigan.
‘But… lost is… lost means… I mean…. He’s…’ he struggled to get the word out. He could feel it, at the back of his mind, but he just couldn’t say it.
Granny leaned back in her chair, eyeing him smugly.
‘Y’see,’ she said, ‘You can’t say it, ‘cos you knows it’s not true. That’s the seeing in you, that is.’
Ellis stared at her, not knowing whether to laugh, cry, shout, scream or run away. Granny sighed.
‘Look, any of those would be expected, but I think the best thing would be if you stayed sat sitting there for a bit longer, and let me show you something about seeing. All right?’ She heaved herself up from the chair, bent down, picked up the orange cat, which was now looking like a perfectly normal – if slightly ravaged and battle-weary – orange cat, and plonked it down in the middle of the kitchen table.
‘Right then,’ she said to Ellis, who had momentarily forgotten his confusion and was leaning back in his chair warily and eying the cat with distrust.
‘See.’ said Granny Battle.
‘What?!’ he said, looking at her as if she was bonkers. Which, he reminded himself, everyone said she was and he was inclined to agree.
‘See,’ she repeated, ‘Have a good old stare – really hard. See what’s really there.’
Ellis looked back at the cat, then at Granny Battle, then back at the cat. Then he gave a little shrug and stared angrily at the cat. It glanced at him briefly, then looked away and began to wash its paws.
‘Not like that,’ said Granny, ‘Don’t glare, that won’t work. Just… look at it!’
Ellis made that little sound that means ‘What am I doing here? Why am I doing this? You’re bonkers! Why don’t I just go home?’ then, seeing Granny’s grin, felt rather uncomfortable so tried to relax in his chair and just look at the cat.
After a few seconds it stopped washing its paws and looked back at him.
He looked back harder.
It stared back at him flatly, flicked one ear, and began to look rather uncomfortable.
‘Don’t blink,’ said Granny Battle, who’d stood up and was watching them both carefully.
Ellis felt his eyes starting to water and fought the urge to blink, which was even stronger now after what Granny had just said. He felt the beginnings of a sneeze starting high up in his nose.
‘I think I’m going to sneeze,’ he said in a strained voice.
‘Don’t do that, you’ll make him jump!’ said Granny quickly. Ellis was aware of her backing away slightly, which was a bit worrying. He concentrated on not blinking and tried to force the sneezey feeling, which had crept nearer the end of his nose, back up. He could barely see the cat now for the tears in his eyes.
In the split second his eyes closed, he heard the strangest, most un-catlike noise from the table in front of him, a crash from the other side of the kitchen which sounded rather like Granny falling over a chair, and something began to smell burney.
He opened his eyes and saw Granny picking herself up off the floor and trying to untangle herself from a chair. One of her trouser legs was smouldering, and she patted it out with a hasty oven-glove.
‘Well,’ she said brightly, ‘Well. I was right about the sneeze wasn’t I?’ She patted out another smoulder on her trouser leg, which had re-ignited, and waved the oven glove at the table.
The dragon was hunched rather self-consciously in the middle of the table in a small puddle of dragon-wee. It looked up at Ellis apologetically and blinked.
He blinked back, and was only mildly surprised to find it was still there when his eyes opened again.
A slow, slightly mad, grin began to spread across his face, and the dragon gave a genteel, smokey, hiccup then wrinkled its snout in what Ellis decided could only be a faintly embarrassed smile.
There we go! See you tomorrow!
Update: Here’s the next chapter…
Chapter 5 – Cats: The truth…