by Lynda Green
Nigel eases his head in the direction of the voice, his eyes are letter box slits.
A prism of dull light is enough to make him frown.
He lifts his right arm and his shoulder emits a thin sharp sound which settles as he places his hand on his brow, palm up.
“You’re not quite up to temperature I think. Your joints are still a bit frozen, that’s what that noise is,” says the grey beard he glimpses.
“Frozen.” says Nigel, “Oh yes, frozen. Who are you, where am I?”
“Edward, your grandson. You’re in a private ward in the Duchy hospital. They’ve just defrosted you, or pretty much anyway.”
Nigel frowns again, he is trying to think and it’s like pushing butter through porridge.
“I was 3, when you were frozen, I’m 53 now,” says Edward.
“Good Lord, it seems like yesterday,” says Nigel.
“Perhaps to you Grandad.”
“Your father, Ian,” says Nigel, “is he here?”
“He died nearly thirty years ago.”
Nigel shakes his head slowly, activating a small whirlpool behind each ear. He closes his eyes again.
“Don’t think too hard, Grandad, not yet,” says Edward.
“What happened to Ian?” says Nigel.
“A digger took his head off on Bodmin Moor. They searched for days for it.”
The image of his son’s head rolling away in the mists of Bodmin Moor is nonetheless distressing for being in a sepia tint. He puts his hands to his eyes. His left shoulder emits a tinkle, reminiscent of a good martini. An unholy wish for a gin and tonic consumes him.”
Uncannily, Edward says, “It’s water for a day or two, no booze, tea, coffee. Tepid water, I think.”
“Oh,” says Nigel. “Did they find Ian’s head?”
“Five years ago someone found a skull on the moors,” says Edward.
“Was it, is it Ian’s?”
“Don’t know, we didn’t ask, it’s on display in Truro museum. The teeth looked familiar.”
Nigel is beginning to wonder at the wisdom of being frozen.
“Are you alright Grandad?” says Edward, eventually.
Nigel misses his wife all over again. More, perhaps, than when she died.
“I don’t suppose you remember your gran, do you?” he says to Edward.
“No, I don’t, I was only one when she died. But I’ve got photos; I’ve brought some with me.”
Edward searches his briefcase, finally locating a brown manilla envelope.
Nigel’s fingers crackle as he holds up the photo of his wife, taken a year before she died. They’d no idea then what the future held, she was posing, smiling, holding up Vera, their little brown toy poodle.
“I would have liked you to be deep frozen too,” he says, wiping away an icy tear.
“They don’t do dogs,” says Edward, looking at the photograph.
“Your gran was no dog,” says Nigel.
The two men lock eyes, Nigel’s face audibly cracks into a broad smile.
“Well, that’s broken the ice,” says Edward.
The two men are still laughing when Dr. Frost peers anxiously round the door.
Lynda Green is a short story writer, taxi driver and lover of the surreal.