Grandma’s Air Conditioner

‘Is it just me, or is it the hottest day since mercury was invented?’ my grandmother asked wistfully, hobbling into the lounge room with a half-filled grin.

‘Mercury wasn’t invented,’ my little brother said absentmindedly, head glued to his tablet. ‘It’s a pure element, number eighty – it’s literally as a old as the universe.’

‘When did you get so clever?’ Grandma asked him with a joking scowl.

‘When did you get so rude?’ I said, poking him in the ribs and flashing him a real scowl. ‘Yes, Grandma, it is hot today.’

She chuckled and winked at me slyly.

‘You kids should be out there, playing,’ she said wistfully, shuffling over to the window and looking out over the lawn.

‘Didn’t we just agree it was too hot?’ my brother asked. ‘I want to stay in here with the air conditioning. South Yarra is boring, anyway. There’s nothing to do out there.’

‘Nothing to—’ she gaped at us. I shrugged sympathetically; he was right. ‘That’s absurd!’ she shook her head. ‘When I was your age—’

‘Back when mercury was invented?’

‘Oi,’ she said, cane shooting up in a joking threat. ‘None of that rubbish.’

I couldn’t help but giggle along with my brother.

‘When I was your age,’ Grandma started again, shooting us a warning glance, ‘we’d be out there every chance we got, playing with the sprinklers or our hoops…’

‘Wait, you actually had those hoop things?’ I frowned. ‘I kind of thought that was a myth.’

‘Of course we did!’ she looked shocked. ‘My, how the education system has failed you.’

‘Didn’t they always fly away and break things?’ my brother frowned, looking up from his game.

‘Oh yes,’ Grandma nodded seriously. ‘We broke a lot of windows in my youth. And don’t get me started on the cost for AC repair around Hampton, once we inflated that particular market.’

‘Dad never told us any of this!’ I laughed.

‘Of course not,’ she said. ‘He has to set a good example for you kids.’

‘And you don’t?’ my brother frowned.

‘Oh, God no,’ Grandma laughed. ‘What else do you want to know?’