It was the rocking chair that transfixed him. That familiar wooden creak in D Major, the way it fell back to exactly the same place after a few rocks, such comfort in its predictability. On the rare occasion that he got to sit in it, Dominic pretended he was a teacher, donning Granny’s glasses, pretending to read New French Feminisms, picking out a random word with his finger, to mispronounce on page 34.
There was a loud scraping noise. Granny and Dominic looked at each other. Granny sighed and logged the time in her notebook, and what she thought the noise was this time. Entry 48. 11:07am. Large wardrobe moved to opposite side of bedroom.
Dominic watched Granny as she wrote, the complex map of blue veins on her hand, the pathway of tired blood chugging along for the umpteenth time. Dominic looked at his hands. One freckle on each hand in more or less the same place. Deux freckles. Un, deux.
Dominic dangled the apple spiral Granny chiselled from a cox pippin, as if it was a nursery mobile. He moved it over the bruise on his leg, as if it spouted magical properties. He looked at the clock. Only one hour before Dad finished work. He looked at his other leg. Blank canvas, at the moment.
‘She wants me out, it’s obvious. I hate her. I’m not going, I’ve been in this house since I married your Pop.’
‘What do you mean, Granny?’
’48 times. 48 noises. 48 rages. How many times does she need to move furniture, nextdoor?’
‘Granny, what’s the next number after deux?’
‘What’s that got to do with…?’ Granny reached out her arms and Dom made no hesitation to sit on her lap and join the chair dance.
‘Yes, trois. Good boy.’
Over Granny’s shoulder, Dom saw movement in the backyard. He leapt up and went outside. There was the back of the neighbour’s head. When she turned around to go back in, he gave the longest of stares, a suspended blink, turned on his heel, slammed the backdoor, and locked it with a flourish.