‘I learned Twinkle Twinkle Little Star today.’
He picks me up with ease and sits me on the stool with the cushion so I can reach. ‘Let’s hear it then.’
With his hand on my shoulder, he watches as I clunk my little fingers across the keys. They move awkwardly and I tie myself in knots as I tap out the uneven tune.
Afterwards, he claps as if I’ve conducted a whole orchestra.
A winter’s day, and snow glistens outside the window. My brother is reciting ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’. When he reaches ‘five gold rings’ he points at Grandad and right on cue they both jump up – hands held spread out in front of them – and bellow the words like a klaxon. We descend into giggles. When he re-enacts a lord a leaping, Grandma almost falls over in shock.
I’m in the school musical and after I finish my solo, I look out to the crowd. There’s a tear in his eye as he gives me a standing ovation. The curtain falls, and later he tells me he’s never been prouder.
He keeps the DVD recording pride of place in the television cabinet, and shows it to his friends whenever they visit.
It’s my birthday and he’s written me a poem in the same limerick form that he’s put in my cards since I was old enough to be read to. The handwriting is wobbly and uneven, all capitals, with the occasional word missing. But still, each rhythm and rhyme is perfect.
He signs it with ‘Love
Arthu Grandad’. He forgot to ask Grandma to add her name.
The whole family sits around him, a machine beeping in an odd staccato. He wakes to the sound of our chatter, weary eyed. I hold his hand and ask him if he remembers teaching me songs on the piano. He starts to sing one and we all join in, a colourful chorus bouncing off the pale white walls around us.
On a clear night, I look up at the stars and hum a tune to myself. I imagine him being here now, joining in the rendition.
Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky.
Lyndsey is an Edinburgh-based writer. She received a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award for 2020 and is working on her debut novel. She enjoys writing short fiction, and has been published in a number of magazines and anthologies. Find her on Twitter as @writerlynds or via lyndseycroal.co.uk.