Elisa paused in the front doorway and sniffed, the house smelt like baking. The warm aromas of bread and cake woke up her taste buds causing her mouth to water slightly. Dumping her handbag in the hallway, she hurried back to the car and opened the back door. Her sons stared up at her with slightly puzzled looks on their faces before turning back to the IPad.
She unfastened two year old Corey from his safety seat before reaching over and doing the same for six year old Ryder. Lifting out Corey, she balanced him on her hip, then ducked down to pick him his dropped teddy bear.
‘Come on, Ryder,’ Elisa called as she gave Corey his bear.
‘On more level,’ he replied.
‘No. Now. Come on,’ she said in her best stern voice.
Moving to behind the door, Elisa watched him get out, holding the IPad in one hand and his school bag in the other. She closed the door behind him and locked the car.
‘Is granny here?’ Ryder’s voice came from behind her.
‘I don’t think so,’ she replied.
‘It smells like she’s been.’
‘Don’t go in the kitchen!’ Elisa half shouted.
Turning, she hurried into the house and closed the door with her foot. Corey wiggled in her arm and dropped his bear on the floor. He laughed as Elisa bent down and picked it up. She walked into the living room and saw that Ryder hadn’t listened to her and had gone through into the kitchen. She followed him, feeling annoyed but too tried to tell him off.
Ryder had put the IPad and his bag on a chair and was standing on the plastic stool next to the worktop.
‘Look, granny made a cake!’ he said excitedly.
‘Good for granny,’ Elisa huffed.
She put Corey in his high chair and gave him the teddy. Instead, Corey tried to reach over for the wood building blocks on the table. Elisa gave them to him and walked over to the oven. Opening it, under the watchful gaze of Ryder, she looked in and saw a loaf of homemade bread.
‘What’s in there?’ Ryder asked, climbing down from the stool.
‘Bread,’ she replied and closed the oven.
‘Can I have some?’ he asked.
She shook her head, ‘we’ll have it with tea. What do you want? Fish fingers?’
‘I want a burger.’
‘You had that yesterday,’ Elisa reminded him as she checked the washing machine and then the fridge-freezer.
‘So?’ Ryder pressed.
‘So, no. What about pasta?’
‘No, I said Pasta,’ Elise repeated and turned to him.
Ryder had gone over to Corey and was stacking up the blocks. He shot her a disgusted look and turned back to the blocks as they tumbled over. Corey erupted into screams of delight.
Elise lent against the fridge and crossed her arms, looking like she meant business, ‘pasta or nothing.’
‘Granny would let us have pizza,’ Ryder grumbled.
‘I’m not granny. Pasta it is,’ she declared and opened the fridge again to pull out some mincemeat.
‘Corey wants pizza,’ Ryder pointed out.
‘Tough luck,’ Elisa replied and walked across to the worktop.
She placed the meat down and began looking in the cupboards for the pasta and the sauce.
‘Tell mummy what you want, Corey,’ Ryder said in a quiet voice as he poked his brother.
‘Mummy!’ the two year old cried out.
‘What you want, Corey?’ she asked in a smooth baby voice and glancing over her shoulder at him
‘There he said it! Pizza!’ Ryder cut in.
‘No, he didn’t,’ Elisa correct as she came over, ‘he wants a drink.’
Grapping their plastic non-spill cups off the table, she washed them out and filled them with watered down orange cordial. She handed the blue one to Corey and the green one to Ryder.
‘Seat here and do some colouring for me,’ she told Ryder and pulled out a chair for him.
‘I want to watch TV,’ he moaned.
‘Well…I guess you could,’ she said slowly and glanced at the kitchen clock. It was almost four.
Cheering, Ryder ran into the living room and with a few quick glances at Corey, Elisa joined him and turned on the TV. Grabbing the remote, she put on a children’s channel and watched Ryder settle on the sofa. Biting her lip and wondered why she couldn’t be stronger when dealing with his demands, she walked back into the kitchen.
Corey was sipping his drink and making humming noises. With his other hand he was trying to stack the blocks as his older brother had done before. Elisa ruffled his hair as she went passed and got back to searching for the rest of the things she needed.
The phone rang a few moments later. Putting the pasta and the sauce down next to the meat, Elisa walked into the living room and grabbed the phone.
‘Elisa, you’re home. Should I come over and help with tea and the boys?’
‘No, granny. It’s all right,’ she said quickly and began trying to think of a good excuse to end the call.
‘I made you a cake and some bread. Also, I did the washing and the ironing for you,’ her granny’s voice crackled over the phone.
‘I noticed. Thanks. But you don’t have to do any of that,’ Elisa said firmly as she walked back into the kitchen.
‘I just want to help.’
‘I’m fine,’ she breathed, ‘I’m coping and so are the boys. Did you look at those brochures I give you?’ she asked as she stacked the blocks for Corey.
‘Yes, but there’s no way I’m going into a home,’ granny snorted down the phone.
Elisa rolled her eyes, ‘I just think it’d be easier…’
‘I’m perfectly healthy! And doing great for my age,’ the old woman shot back.
‘I know,’ Elisa responded, ‘but I worry about you. Now, grandpa is gone you have nothing do and you’re in that bungalow all alone.’
‘I could move in with you and the boys,’ granny suggested.
‘No, no,’ Elisa said quickly, ‘I mean…what would you do during the week day when we are all out?’
‘The housework, the cooking, babysitting and everything else. I’m still quite capable and you work so hard, Elisa. Just like your parents did. It’s such a shame you have to raise those boys on your own now. Reminds me of grandpa and I raising you.’
‘Yes and I’m thankful for everything and all your help now. But I’m fine, honest. Oh, I’ve got to go. Corey needs changing and I need to start tea. See you tomorrow, bye,’ Elisa stated and hung up the phone just as there came a faint goodbye from granny.
Placing the phone down, Elisa turned to Corey who was bashing a block on the high chair’s tray.
‘Can you believe that woman?’ she asked him.
Corey gurgled and put the block into his mouth.
‘Sometimes I wish she’d just leave me alone.’
‘Ah!’ Corey screamed and chopped down on one of the block’s many corners.
Elisa turned back getting out the pans and other things she now needed, ‘I don’t really mean that,’ she uttered, ‘I just want some space. You know?’
‘Mummy? Mummy?’ Ryder’s voice called.
‘Yeah?’ she replied.
‘Is granny coming over?’
‘No. She’s not!’ Elisa yelled back and banged a pan down.
She heard Corey pause and gasp behind her. Turning, she hurried over to him and stroked his head.
‘It’s okay, I didn’t mean it. It’s not you. You’re a good boy,’ the words gushed from her mouth.
Still, Corey’s bottom lip trembled and his face screwed up.
Quickly, Elisa let him out from the high chair and picked him up. Taking him into the living room, she sat on the sofa next to Ryder and encouraged Corey to watch the colourful cartoons on the TV.
Sighing, Elisa wondered if granny coming to live with them wouldn’t actually be such a bad thing. She stroked Corey’s soft hair whilst he giggled at the TV and decided that she would give it some deeper thought.