We were having an otherwise usual (boring) Sunday dinner in the middle of August when a girl fell through the ceiling and slammed straight onto the turkey with a great, fat splat.
My father had a fork poised at his mouth, ready to take a bite of that tasty white meat. Mouth slightly open, hand and fork oh so very near, tantalisingly close. He had his napkin tucked into this shirt collar. But that didn’t stop the gravy from going all over his face when the girl’s foot sent it flying.
Granny wasn’t eating. Just sitting. All sad and alone in her best pink suit. She hadn’t touched even a pea, not a morsel or bite. Not yet, not then. Her plate ended up on the floor, peas, carrots running and bouncing, a hundred thousand pieces. Or maybe only four. Her eyes blue and fading, she looked at the girl on the table like afternoon TV. That’s all, that’s it. You can’t rattle granny.
Mummy was there too. And Uncle Peter. And Aunt Maria and their little baby boy with his blonde curls and fat cheeks. Squeezed into a navy sailor suit and stuffed in a high chair. Angry little fists grabbing at the mush on his tray. Baby mush all over his chops, in his curls, all down his front. Everyone thought he was the messy one. Everything thought he was going to be the family’s trouble and strife.
Everyone was wrong.
She was one of them.
The back of her head hit the varnished wood with a loud crack like a shotgun that rang around the room. The rest of her followed, awkward and flailing and hard as a rock. Whumph! She fell. She flailed. She flapped. Smashing and crashing into the turkey, all succulent and moist. Into the China, oh what a disgrace! Into the gravy, the peas, the mashed potato and butter, the sauces and carrots and diluting juice. A massacre! A shocker! A right royal mess!
Nothing on that table was safe.
Eyes wide open, she had slammed straight through a hole she tore in the ceiling and landed like a freight train, with a moan like a whisper.
It was only 1 o’clock.