“Oh, I love the smell of this cupboard . . .”
James ignored his sister, Amanda ‘hash-tag-don’t-call-me-Mandy’, and continued to study his phone at the kitchen table. There was nothing from Naomi. This had an end of the world feel about it.
Mandy had her head in the cupboard. “. . . one sniff and you can tell Christmas is coming.” She was breathing extravagantly. “When the cake is ready, I will offer you a slice, of course . . .”
He groaned but Mandy droned on, “and you will refuse of course . . .” She plonked herself down. “. . . because you no longer believe in The Cake.”
It was an accusation. Patience reached a Naomi inspired limit. “Mandy, hate to have to destroy your childhood—but I’ll explain. Grandma died in the old house, long before we moved here. This is a new house. That cupboard was factory built probably earlier this year—way after Grandma died. Get it?”
She looked at him, said nothing. The awesome thing about Mandy—was that she could handle silence like a knife, own it and keep it sharp. “Nothing from Naomi then?”
His non-existent reply floundered in a fish-caught gasp for words.
She said, “Just so you don’t forget what is real and what is not, I will fix that for you, big brother, right now.” She tra-la-la’d and danced out of the kitchen.
James went to the cupboard, opened it and with eyes closed drew a deep breath. Frustration mellowed on the outgoing breath. A hint of orange peel and the mixed up want-more taste of grandma’s Christmas cake churned with the yearning for a hug from her.
In one breath childhood was a place he didn’t want to leave but next he wanted to run away into the rest of his life.
Then as if by Mandy-magic, his mobile rang. When he put the phone down he had a date with Naomi, tomorrow.
Somehow, everything was alright again.
He went back to the cupboard opened the door and was met by the faint smell of antiseptic, nothing more.