Like always, I ate to much at grandpa’s birthday. Although I came to think that my nausea didn’t come so much from eating this year, as from missing grandma.
As I stood in the backyard of their house looking out over the chest high weed, I remembered the way grandma used to walk small circles on the lawn to keep fit. She kept on doing it for years. Until one day she didn’t anymore. But the circle on the grass would still be there for years after. A worn out, muddy track, that led to nowhere.
I felt a drop of sweat running down my back. The afternoon had gotten steamy hot. A fly was buzzing in my ear. Suddenly I heard my sister calling me, hanging from the upstairs window, her head sticking out underneath the soft see through curtains. “Sam what are you doing? We are going to have dinner soon. Grandpa is making a roast.” I felt my stomach turn again. By now I was sure I was going to get sick. “I’ll be there in a minute”, I mumbled, so softly I was sure she wouldn’t be able to hear it. “Well, we’re not going to wait for you”, my sister shouted and shut the window, loud enough for me to hear that I had used up all the time I was allowed on my own during a family gathering.
As I turned around, I caught something moving in the corner of my eye. It was in the back of the garden. I hoped it was Mustafa, Mister Williams’ big black cat, who was always sneaking through the neighbourhood gardens on a mission that seemed to have no particular goal, but looked like a perfectly natural thing to do in cat world.
I thought Mustafa was a great cat. He loved cardboard boxes. Once Mister Williams had build a little wooden castle for him, but it didn’t interest Mustafa at all. Instead, he always jumped into the old cardboard box with the logo of Chiquita bananas that Mister Williams – when Mustafa stubbornly kept ignoring his castle – eventually had put next to it. Cats know how to appreciate the right things in life, I thought.
It wasn’t Mustafa moving between the huge hogweeds growing in the back, it was something bigger. Probably some neighbourhood kid that had lost its football. “Why do you do it?”, a high pitched voice all of the sudden cut through the thick humid summer air. It surprised me so much, I forgot to answer. “Just tell me, why do you do it?”, I heard again from behind the weeds. The voice sounded somehow familiair but not in the way that it made me think of someone I had ever known. “Do what?”, I replied. “Don’t be stupid”, the voice said. “Who are you?, I responded. The voice was starting to irritate me. “Doesn’t matter”, the voice said, “you know what I’m talking about.” I did. “It’s none of your business”, I said angrily and started walking back to the house. The voice stayed silent. Just when I reached for the door, I heard the voice again, softer this time, sweet almost: “Why did you give up?” I turned around. “It’s just easier”, I whispered, looking down. Immediately I knew I was lying. It was actually really hard. My arms and legs felt heavy when I opened the door to my grandparents house. I decided to at least skip dessert tonight.