The first thing I noticed about the house was the almost musty smell it had of honey and candle wax and the cigars he smoked at Christmas still hanging in the air: Granddad's smell.
Granny was over in the corner, the loss of her husband obviously getting to her. She did not show it through tears; no, that was not her way of doing things, but she did show it in her eyes: a lost, dazed look that you could not quite capture in a picture or even a photograph. Although she was greeting people, it was as if she did not really see them and was just attempting and failing at some sort of rehearsed dance that did not mean very much to her.
Granddad had passed away nearly a month before. It had not been sudden but when it happened it still hit you as if a huge black Land Rover of pain was being driven into your side.
Many people had turned up to the funeral, well over 500. The room seemed like a black and white movie set as everyone had ebony black outfits on with white faces of shock peeping out from them. There was no colour apart from people's eyes but with the sadness they had either buried them into their hands or were too full of watery tears to see the true colour shining through. This was unlike his life. His life had been full of colour: the red from the apples in his prized orchard, the yellow from the honey bees and their hives he kept behind the shed, the brownie-blue of the brook running through his front garden and the green of his grapevines in his vineyard. He certainly loved colour.
I know this is a cliche but I did not know what to do with myself. I was not yet ready to say goodbye; I couldn't, not in his house full of his memories. I ran outside to the beehives, his and my favourite place. The only thing you could hear was the bees hard at work on their honeycomb tessellation and if you had grown up with this sound it was rather calming and relaxing and the only thing at the moment which seemed to be into a normal routine. I wished I could have my normal routine back, but even more I wished I could have my granddad back.
I heard the swing door give a moan like an injured soldier ready to die in battle for his country as it did every time you were trying to open it. It was Granny. I rose to leave to give her some space and time to herself and she put her hand on my shoulder as if to stop me and then said simply, "It's time". I never knew or asked what that meant: if it was time to forget Granddad, let go or merely just time for lunch. We both gave weak smiles but for the first time I think in that day I actually meant my smile. I felt an odd closeness to her the moment I walked through that moaning swing door.
As we drove off down the pathway of misshapen, craggy rocks back to the prison of skyscrapers that make up London, that was when I truly said goodbye to Granddad, the house and his almost musty honey and candle wax smell tinged with the aroma of the cigars he smoked at Christmas.
Elena says that hers is a close family so they were all sad when her grandfather died, but she has many happy memories of him. As well as reading - most recently Holes by Louis Sachar and Orwell's Animal Farm - and writing, mainly fiction, she enjoys drama. "I do drama at weekends as well as at school. It helps in writing, if you express yourself through your body and voice and then write it down." She likes sport and won a national poetry competition when she was eight. Elena's teacher, Joan Morris, says she is creative in her use of language. The school has entered Write Away before and this year has two finalists. HN