Edel meets a pensioner.

Edel’s First… meeting with an older person

Edel could hear Jay was not alone as she approached the door to their apartment, but she could not place the scent of who was inside. She hesitated a moment before finally deciding to push open the door, hoping she could quietly make it to her room without having to interact with any new humans.

“Edel!” Jay greeted her as soon as she pushed open the door. “This is my Grandad.” He pointed to the man across the room. “Grandad, this is my roommate, Edel.”

Edel stared at the man carefully. Older people weren’t something she was used to seeing. Before she escaped from Poly-Gen, she’d never seen a person aged over retiring age. His skin was creased and weathered. It looked like well-worn paper money that someone had tried to smooth out, and it looked as though it would tear easily, like tissue paper. The deep creases around his eyes deepened further as he smiled, and said, “So, you’re the one who’s been giving him the run-around.”

Edel continued to stare, wondering what he could possibly mean. His voice sounded different to that of a younger man. Deep and gravelly, and instead of coming out smoothly, the sound left his lips with a slight quiver.

“I hope you’re keeping him on his toes? You look a nice girl. He deserves a nice girl, does Jay. Not like that other one. What was she called, Callie? Kelly? Kerry?” he screwed his face up and waved his hand dismissively.

“Katie, Grandad. And she’s still my girlfriend,” he said testily. “Edel is my roommate. We live together, but we are friends, that’s all.”

“Katie,” the old man muttered under his breath. “And where is she, anyway?” his question turned from words into a hacking cough, and Edel stepped forward, alarmed to see the old man struggling.

Jay caught her eye and shook his head a fraction, indicating that Edel should remain where she was. “Why don’t you sit down, Grandad?” Jay placed his arm under the old man’s armpit and gently guided him to a chair. Edel watched his shuffling feet, noticing the effort it cost him. As though he needed to concentrate on his coordination. Jay gently lowered him into the chair and the old man laid his head back. His breathing seemed laboured after the short walk and Edel could hear his heart pumping harder than it should be.

Edel watched, fascinated. In his features, she could see a resemblance to Jay. The shape of his hairline and the bow of his lips. When he smiled, his eyes lit up the same way as Jay’s. She considered what it meant to be a grandad and shaped her thoughts carefully until she had crafted her question in her mind. She breathed in deep and looked up at Jay. “Grandad is your mother’s father? Or your father’s father?”

Jay smiled. “My Mom’s.”

Edel had so many questions spring to mind. This was the first time she had met any of Jay’s family. He rarely spoke of his family, or his youth, and Edel had never thought to ask him. Suddenly she found herself wondering why she had never met this man before, or heard Jay speak of him, or his parents. It struck her only now, that she didn’t know anything about Jay from before they met. As though he had been born a grown man, with no past. “How old is he?”

The old man coughed again and looked up at her. “What sort of a question is that?” he shook his head and said, “The youth of today are so damn rude! Asking a gentleman his age!” he said indignantly.

Edel’s heart hammered in her chest. Jay had said she would never get in trouble for asking questions, but this man was not Jay. She looked over to Jay and he snickered.

“Grandad! Behave!” he shook his head and caught Edel’s eye. “He’s joking, Edel.”

Edel wet her lips with the tip of her tongue. It seemed Jay and his grandad shared a similar sense of humour as well as physical traits. She found Jay’s humour to be confusing, and his Grandad was no easier to understand. Her eyes travelled to her closed bedroom door, and she fought the urge to run to it and hide herself away where things were safe and easy.

“Edel has to go now, Grandad.” Jay said, offering an understanding nod in Edel’s direction.

She’d never felt more grateful. She peered at the man in the chair and murmured hesitantly, “It was nice to meet you Mr Powell.”

“Call me Joe.”

Edel nodded and made her way across the apartment and into her room. As she closed the door, she heard Joe say, “I like that one. Why isn’t that one your girlfriend?”

She listened to Jay’s guffawing laughter and smiled. “Trust me Grandad. She’s not interested in dating me.”