I Again Am Strang by David Carson

I like fine tae work in the gairden o’ a weekend. But nae sae much noo. Maybes because I’ve naewhere else tae go the hail week. Ma Fridays are nae mair.

Aye, Fridays. Whit pleasure, whit joy. Calum, I allus spiered him richt awa’,comin’ bensin ower the playgrun an’ oot the gate, sclitherin  atween a’ the ither bairns on their scooters an’ bikes, his schoolbag bobbin’ on his shouders. ‘Grandpa! Grandpa!’  I bend doon tae tak him in ma airms, but the wee devilock squirms awa’ fae me laughin’ the whiles. Calum, sic a well-lookit chiel.

I sae looked forward tae thae moments. I peer up at the clear blue sky an’ doon on Calum’s tousie locks an’ ken for shuir that haiven lies aboot us, as some poet tellt it.

But I ken forbye that clouds are gatherin’, that change is near. Calum, all excited like, pulls at ma haun. ‘Grandpa, we’re hain’ a holiday, we’ve no tae come tae school on Monday, and maybe the hail week, is that no’ braw?’

I says tae him, let’s go for a wee stravaig by the dyke yonder, ye can clim atop an’ hae a leuk at the sheep wi’ their lambs. I gi’ed him ma haun an’up he jamp. Then I says tae him, a’ quiet like, it’s maybe longer than jist a week, ma bonnie laddie. I’ll no see ye for a lang while I fear. Mony a Friday will gae by wi’oot yer grandpa.

Calum looks doon at me an’ says, but faur will ye be? At hame, I say. That’s a’ richt, he says, but whit fur? So I tell him aboot thon virus thing, an’ he nods his heid an’ says he kens a’ aboot that, a’body does. Then he looks me in the ee an says dinna look sae sad, grandpa, I will remember ye.

Ah think, it’s no’ the same for him, it’s like he’s talkin’ aboot a visit tae the seaside, or the museum. But then he jamp doon an’ pits his bag on the grund an his haun in the bag. Look grandpa he says, is this no awfy fine? I peer at it an’ see a stane wi’ lines on it. Naw grandpa, it’s no a stane, it’s a fossil. Thae marks are fae a insect that lived hunners an’ hunners o’ years ago, even older than you.

Aye, Calum gie’ed me the stane. Here grandpa, he says. It’s ma best een, I pit it oan ma table next tae ma bed an’ look at it fen I wake up. I’m aye showin’ it tae ma pals. So you can pit it on your table. It’s a wee present fae me. Not forever mind. Jist till ye come back tae get me fae the schule.

I dinna pit it on a table. Naw, I pit it under ma pillow. I really dae. I think it helps me tae sleep sound, but if I wake I can reach fur it and clasp it fur a moment. An’ I says tae masel’ that things pass, that ane o’ these days I’ll hae tae gie the stane back tae Calum. Wi’joy an’ pleasure.

By David Carson

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