We were using music as a starting point to write a story and having mused on a track from the film ‘Little miss Sunshine’. I came up with this. What do you mean, you’ve never watched it? Oh you must…you just must. …
The rain had bottled them up in the van for forty minutes. This was too much for Suki. Even though she was a nine-year-old expert in dinosaurs, bugs and, as of this week, birds, she’d exhausted all her conversation. And then ‘pop’ a topic arrived in her head. So she began the tale of Dad, aka Dan, breaking up with his latest girlfriend Clare, aka fluffy bunny. But now Grandad and Dad were even quieter. Maybe it was a boring story, she thought; after all, Dad was always breaking up with his girlfriends. She shrugged to herself and went back to thinking about budgies. The silence got coloured in by the rain playing jazz drums on the roof accompanied by the experimental sounds of Grandad’s crunching of extra strong mints and deep throat grumbling.
“Looks like that’s the last of the rain Suki” said Dan “Look at the light coming through those clouds.”
Suki stirred from thoughts of Budgie mirrors and looked up at the sky.
“I think they call those beams, Jack’s ladders” added Dan.
“It’s Jacob’s ladders,” Said Grandad curtly and huffed back into silence.
“Vikings believed they were Valkyries coming to earth” Suki recalled from her third favourite subject.
“Who told you that?”
“Clare did. I liked Clare” Another mint cracked.
“And what do the Valkyries do?” Asked Dan trying to ignore the look from Grandad
“They come down to collect the warriors and take them to Venezuela”
“I think you mean Valhalla, sweetheart,” said Dan. “Do you want to go and start feeding the birds and then we’ll go for a walk around the lake. I just need to have a quick chat with Grandad.”
Suki clambered out from between them, said hello to the ducks and waved an angry finger at a nearby seagull.
The lecture began with the rattle of another mint around the dentures, a sigh, and a pinch of the bridge of the nose. Then came Grandad’s long march speech on settling down, no-ones perfect, Suki needs stability. The sermon continued with them both watching Suki attempting to get as much food to the ducks whilst keeping a determined gangster seagull at a distance. Grandad’s pitch heightened and he introduced emphatic hand gestures. The seagull crept closer. Grandad raised the subject of his daughter’s death and what she would have wanted. The seagull’s neck stretched out. Grandad brought up Suki living with him again and the seagull’s beak scratched the seed bag.
There was a flash of wings and a hollering cry that echoed over the lake. Grandad stopped in mid-sentence.
“Bloody hell,” he said “Did she just punch that seagull?”
That’s my girl thought Dan, that’s my girl.