Granny C often came to stay. One evening she had been uncommonly touchy and in keeping, after an hour or so of silence, she suddenly announced that the house was far too dusty and that she intended to vacuum the whole place the next day. Then, she upped and went to bed. As usual she could be heard shutting the windows, rolling down the mosquito nets, swatting the odd miscreant, climbing on to her bed and snoring lightly.
I was behind with my French homework and to give myself a chance of meeting next day’s mid-morning deadline, I set the alarm for around 4.30. When it went off, I crept up the stairs to my study. Quietly I closed the door and started writing. Soon after, it was as though Granny C’s bedroom had been invaded. Her light was on. I could hear loud mutterings and cursings, and there were sounds suggesting some serious rearrangement of furniture (two chairs, a bedside table and the bed itself as it turned out).
I tapped on her door to check if everything was all right. Granny C was sitting on her bed scowling darkly at the wall ahead. My alarm had woken her; the creaking stairs had not helped, her bedroom door had somehow been blown open when I closed the one to my study and a mosquito had slipped through her defences and was now buzzing around her menacingly. And, if Granny C hated anything, it was being bitten by mosquitos. She had seen the offending beastie, chased it around the furniture (hence the ‘rearrangement’), had missed killing it countless times and had twice tried to go back to sleep. But the buzzing kept starting up again and it was all my fault.
I apologised, tried to calm her down and looked in vain for the offending insect. I went back to my study offering to return immediately to help if the mosquito reappeared.
The French was progressing well but after a further hour or so (it was still dark outside) my concentration was again broken. This time by the sound of Granny C leaving her room, noisily trundling up and down the stairs, and then hoovering very thoroughly and very loudly first her bedroom, then the bathroom and finally our shared landing. Still scowling she told me how going back to sleep had proved impossible, how the mosquito just had to be caught and then, by way of a justification, how she had planned to hoover anyway.
Reinstalled in my study, it was now I who was being hounded. The mosquito must have followed me in. There were still hours of writing to be done and its bites on my legs were distracting. Then suddenly I saw it out of the corner of my eye sitting (or do they stand?) on my dictionary which happened to be opened at the ‘es’. By some irony it had landed close to the word écraser (to swat), and I did. Granny C’s mosquito was finally dead, and she, once again, could be heard snoring.