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FICTION on the WEB short stories by Charlie Fish

by Juliet Aharoni

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When Jane was sixteen, she recalled the time their grandmother used to live with them. The day her mother moved out (she had no idea what the new arrangements were), her father returned with her Granny. The three little girls were explicitly told to obey her, and above all, to remember that her legs hurt.

They would tiptoe around her, staring at her legs. She seemed to get about very well, but her legs had funny green and blue webs all over. They sometimes looked as though a spider had been caught in them - maybe it was the spider that hurt her legs at night, the eldest child thought.

Every Friday afternoon, when the girls came home from elocution or ballet lessons, the smell of cooking and baking enticed them into the kitchen to peep into the pots and pans. The table was laid for dinner, candles were lit, and Granny was dressed regally in her black dress with white lace collar and cuffs that she had brought to South Africa from Russia many, many years earlier. She wore an embroidered snow-white apron around her huge waist - the embodiment of Jewish pride and dignity.

After years of confusion the small children were, for the first time, enjoying a life of tranquillity. Their Granny had come into their home - to feed them, hug them, and love them.

It was especially fun when she took out a stocking from an inner pocket, and lo and behold, there was a surprise. Sometimes it was sixpence to buy candy, sometimes paper dolls, and there were times when the gift was so large that the children begged to see what else she had hidden in her secret pocket.

One day, when they were visiting their cousins, the youngest child came into the living-room, where the adults were having tea. Sobbing, she expressed her dismay at finding her most precious doll in her cousinís room. Granny had given it to Myra. As the story unraveled, everyone discovered that the money and toys that had just disappeared into thin air had, in fact, had been taken by Granny.

Whenever she visited one of her grandchildren, she couldnít come empty-handed, of course, so she would take something from one and give it to the other. She would take an expensive item if the family were rich; if they werenít, she would just take a candy or a piece of fruit. This object would then become a gift for her next visit.

Granny always had gifts for her thirty-two grandchildren. Did it matter how she got them?

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