‘It, her, your sister,’ Gran said, ‘was like an Easter egg.’
‘Eh?’ an eight-year-old Alex asked, perplexed.
Fit to burst after his grandmother’s home-cooked Sunday lunch, he slumped back in the armchair opposite.
‘Never mind,’ Gran said, her knitting needles clacking furiously as she sucked her falsers in and out faster than a fiddler’s elbow at the MOD. ‘You’re no auld enough to know your mother is something that rhymes with a shed.
‘Anyway,’ Gran dragged out the word, ‘she, it, her, your sister, whatever it is, looked like a big egg with matchsticks sticking out of it for arms and legs. And no difference between the neck and waist, either. Hah! What waist? It was a head that was stuck on, if you’ll excuse ma French here, Alex, a space-hopper.
‘And she still looks the same from the back. Only bigger, with a humph, and a fat ark with pipe cleaners hanging out of it for legs. And they buckled to boot under all that blubber they’re straining to prop up. I’m surprised your mother didn’t explode giving birth to it,’ she sighed at the memory.
‘But you’re different, Alex, because you were a real stunner when you were born,’ she said, glaring and tutting at the missed stitches in her knitting. ‘Still are a stunner and always will be. Though I had to check your name band just to make sure you were who your mother claimed you were. Nothing like your sister Thelma or that sleekit eyed glake, Derek, your brother. A stunner you were, aye. Come to think of it, the only way your sister ever stunned anybody was when she fell on them. Timber!’ Gran cried out and Alex chuckled.
‘No, Alex,’ she said, ‘you were different. The bonniest bairn I ever saw. And to think you came out of something that rhymes with a shed. Unbelievable.’
Alex sniffed and looked up at the corner of the ceiling. Shed, lead, bed… he thought of words that sounded the same as he sucked on his gobstopper. Red, bread…. Nope, can’t think.
‘Your eyes,’ his grandmother spoke again.
‘My eyes, Gran?’
‘Yes,’ she nodded. ‘You can tell a lot about folk from their eyes. And there’s something special about yours. Not stuck on the one side of your head special, but…,’ she lost herself in reverie for a moment, ‘eyes full of innocence and awareness at the same time. That’s what I mean about your eyes, Alex. And China-blue to boot. Gorgeous.
‘Now your brother,’ she sighed, ‘he has eyes like a snake. And Thelma, the one who backcombs her eyebrows and looks like an elephant without legs because they’ve sunk in so far with the weight of all that blubber they’re trying to hold up, she has eyes that have a hard time catching up with the front of her heed. Deep set! Any deeper and they would be shooting out the back on stalks, which would suit her to a tee.’