Jade’s Cartoons #amwriting #short story


Jade sat on the footstool in front of the TV, trying to watch cartoons. Behind her, the room was lined with ancient relatives: great-grannies and great-aunts, resting their capacious bottoms on chintz chairs, munching cakes and slurping tea with dodgy false teeth, their cauliflower heads nodding and shaking as they gossiped and grumbled the afternoon away.

The cartoons had high-pitched speeded-up voices. Usually Jade had no trouble following the action, but it was hard to concentrate with all that mumbling and grumbling going on in the background.

Tentatively her hand reached for the remote, lurking on the coffee table among the cups and cake-stands. She twitched the sound up a notch.

‘Turn that down!’ yapped Great-Granny Pim. ‘We can’t hear ourselves think with that racket!’

Sighing, Jade obeyed.

‘Aren’t you sitting too close to the telly, dear?’ said Great-Granny Grimsby. ‘You’ll spoil your eyes.’

‘She always sits there,’ said Mummy. ‘I’ve told her not to, but what can you do?’

‘Discipline, that’s what she needs,’ said Great-Granny Pim. ‘And isn’t it time you got rid of that dirty old poof?’

Jade pricked up her ears. ‘Poof’ was a bad word. Josef wouldn’t like it. Josef was Mummy’s new best friend who’d been living in the loft since Daddy had gone off with Mummy’s old best friend.

Mummy didn’t like it either. ‘You shouldn’t talk about Josef like that.’

‘What on earth do you mean?’ said Granny Pim. ‘I was talking about the footstool.’

‘Oh, that,’ said Mummy. ‘Jade won’t part with it, I’m afraid.’

‘But while we’re on the subject,’ Granny Pim went on, ‘I don’t think Josef should be living here. I don’t know what my grandson would think about it.’

‘Your grandson doesn’t have any say in the matter,’ Mummy said sharply.

‘Lovely cake, dear,’ said Great-Auntie Mary. ‘Lovely and moist.’

Jade put her hand over her mouth. That word always made her want to giggle.

‘Yes,’ said Great-Auntie Annie. ‘I do like a moist sponge.’

Jade snorted.

‘About Josef,’ said Granny Pim, refusing to be deflected. ‘Do you really think you should have that sort of person living in the same house as a little girl?’

‘I’m not a little girl,’ said Jade. No one took any notice.

‘What do you mean, “that sort of person”?’ said Mummy, in a dangerous voice.

‘Well, you know,’ said Granny Pim. ‘You hear things, don’t you?’

‘No, I don’t know. Josef is good for Jade. He makes her laugh.’

‘I like Josef,’ said Jade.

‘You don’t leave her alone with him, do you?’ said Granny Pim.

‘Of course I do. Josef is a good person and a good friend.’ Mummy sounded angry now. ‘I trust him implicitly. Just because he’s gay, it doesn’t mean what you’re suggesting.’

‘Did you hear about Doris?’ said Great-Auntie Mary. ‘She was taken in on Friday, and they think she might have to have a bag.’

This made no sense to Jade. She wanted them to go back to that interesting argument about Josef, but they’d returned to their usual boring chit-chat about who was ill and who was dead.

‘She’s been under the doctor for ages…’

‘I don’t know how Edward’s going to manage, with his gout…’

‘Such a pity about Mrs Harris…’

‘They’ll have to miss their trip to Margate now…’

‘When is the funeral?’

‘She used to do the church flowers, didn’t she?’

And on. And on. And on.

Jade’s hand sneaked back to the coffee table and picked up the remote. She looked at the gadget thoughtfully, remembering a cartoon about a boy who could do magic with a remote control. Then she remembered what Josef had told her about magic. It wasn’t all abracadabra and waving wands, it was much simpler than that. You could make anything happen if you wanted it enough. You just had to be good at imagining and believing…

‘I’ll make some more tea,’ said Mummy, in a tight voice. She was obviously still angry.

‘That would be nice, dear,’ said Granny Grimsby.

Mummy went out, her lips pressed tightly together.

Jade pointed the remote at each yacking, clacking relative in turn, her finger on the ‘off’ button.

When Mummy came back, they were all gone.

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