Great Aunt Agnes

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Story Notes:
Oct 1, 2006
Colin hates when Great Aunt Agnes comes to visit. Mum tells him to ‘be quiet, dear’ all the time, and she sleeps in his room, so he has to sleep on the sofa. It’s not fair that Dennis gets to sleep with Mum and Dad, but he’s smaller and always gets his way. He shares Colin’s room and takes his toys and always wants to play with him and do whatever Colin is doing. Why did Mum have to bring home a baby brother from hospital? A baby sister wouldn’t take his toys, though Colin doesn’t think he’d like having a sister very much.

Sometimes, he thinks about running away, but the telly warns about bad men doing bad things that make Mum say dirty words before she changes the channel. He’s only nine, but he knows that he doesn’t want to meet any bad men. He has bad dreams about them sometimes, men with evil faces that are able to shoot fire out of sticks, but he doesn’t cry because crying is for babies and for Dennis. If the bad men get him, Daddy would save him, of course, but he doesn’t want Daddy to get hurt. The bad men can have Dennis, though, because he always takes Colin’s favorite toys and his bed is bigger despite him being small, and that’s just not fair.

Great Aunt Agnes is strange and wears funny clothes, but Colin usually doesn’t have bad dreams when he sleeps on the sofa. He still hates when she comes to stay, though. She doesn’t call Dennis things like ‘Collie Ollie’ or say things like ‘there’s my favorite ickle nephew. What trouble are you brewing up today, Collie Ollie?’ all the time. She’s staying for a week this time! He listens to Mum tell Daddy that ‘Aunt Agnes is eccentric but she has a good heart’. He doesn’t understand about hearts, but soon loses interest in the conversation and goes back to the sitting room.

Dennis is reading some silly book about cows and mice and keeps asking Colin ‘can’t I play, too, Colin? Please?‘. He knows that Mum and Daddy will soon hear and scold him for not playing with Dennis, but he doesn’t care. He’s tired of sharing everything with Dennis and hates how Dennis follows him around all the time whining his name.

Today, Colin decides to build, which is one of his favorite things. He makes a bridge out of blocks so his cars have a way to cross the flaming pit of lava, or the carpet if you can’t see things like he does. Dennis whines again, but Colin ignores him. He crawls across the pit of lava and sets up two bad men who are out to get his cars. If the bad men happen to look like candlesticks, that’s not his fault. He doesn’t have a sister who he can still dollies from, after all. He just has Dennis who isn’t much use at all.

The house smells like Great Aunt Agnes, which is a bad smell like nasty old flowers and Mum’s kitchen spices. It makes him sneeze when she hugs him, and he thinks he’s allergic to her. Mum still makes him hug back, though. Mum calls them in for lunch, and he hears Dennis race off and ask to help set the table, but he stays by his cars because he doesn’t want the bad men to win the race.

“Collie Ollie, your mother called you in for lunch.”

“Don’t call me that,” he mutters, frowning at his cars and hating his name. Colin Oliver is such a silly name. He looks up to see Great Aunt Agnes sit on the floor beside him. She’s wearing a silly hat today, like one of the people in the cartoon that Dennis watches about a witch and a rabbit, and his eyes widen when the hat seems to glimmer before it disappears.

“What’s more important than lunch?” Great Aunt Agnes asks as if her hat didn’t just disappear.

Colin stares at her head and wonders if it’s like the lava and he’s just imagined it. “Bad men are trying to get my cars,” he says. “They want to shoot fire at them, so they can’t catch them.”

“And you’re going to save these cars from the bad men?” she asks in that tone he hears all the time when Mum thinks he’s being silly but is trying to make him think she believes him.

“I’ll save them,” he says firmly. He doesn’t tell her how, last week, he was so angry at the bad men because of another bad dream that he knocked the candlesticks over without even touching him. It still scares him to think about that because he knows it happened and he wasn’t dreaming. Mum and Daddy will think he’s crazy, though, and put him in a room like on the telly with white walls and mean people.

“I’m sure you will,” Great Aunt Agnes says, patting his head like he’s five instead of nearly ten.

He scowls and ducks his head away, making a face as he reaches down to move one of his cars over the bridge and away from the bad men.

“I have a surprise for you,” Great Aunt Agnes whispers in a ‘this is our secret’ type of voice. She’s used it once before when she gave him a book about wizards and goblins that he still reads when no one can catch him, mostly because he likes having a secret. He looks up and takes the box she hands him. “I won’t be able to visit for your birthday, so I want to give this to you now, Collie Ollie.”

“My name is Colin.” He wonders why someone her age can’t understand. He unwraps the box, though, and smiles widely when he sees what’s inside. It’s a big boy gift, not some silly toy that Dennis can steal from him, but something of his very own. He pulls it out of the box and stares in wonder. It’s the best present ever, even better than the firetruck with the working siren that Mum and Daddy got him for Christmas three years ago. “Thank you, Great Aunt Agnes,” he says politely, smiling proudly as he gets up and runs to the kitchen to show off his new camera.