Maths | Flash Fiction

Multicoloured abacus

Little Timmy sat at the kitchen table with his head in his hands, his tears blotting the ink of the homework that tortured him.

“Oh ‘eck, lad,” said Grandpa. “Wotsmatter?”

“My homework,” whimpered Timmy. “I can’t do it. I need help with my 3 times tables.”

“Times tables, ey? Ba gum, that does sound ‘ard for a bairn like you. Only seven, aren’t you lad? I ‘ad trouble at school at your age an’ all. Tell ya what—you go up to bed and I’ll sort this out for you. Don’t tell t’teachers, mind. It’ll be done by morning and that’s a promise.”

Timmy took himself off to bed and he was soon lulled to sleep by the crashing and banging and walloping and cursing of the man who would stop at nothing to make his only grandson happy.

Next morning Timmy awoke fresh as a daisy and he bounced into the kitchen to find his homework incomplete on the kitchen table and his grandfather fast asleep on the floor.

“Grandpa! My homework. You promised!”

The old man jerked awake, wiped the drool from his stubbled chin and—with a chorus of cracking and snapping from his arthritic joints—dragged himself to his feet. “Follow me,” he said, and he led Timmy out to the garage. “Glue’s still a bit wet but it should be reet by t’time you get to school.”

Timmy gawped at three perfectly constructed wooden tables, each one pasted with sheets of newspaper.

“I ‘ad to raid t’neighbour’s recycling bins for some copies of The Times,” said Grandpa, “but thankfully they’re all deep sleepers round ‘ere.”

“Oh, bugger it,” whispered Timmy.

“Y’wot, lad? Speak up, my ‘earing aid’s on t’blink and I’m not quite with it, what wi’ bein’ up ‘alf t’night.”

Timmy looked at the heavy bags under his weary grandfather’s eyes and the angry red nicks and scrapes on his grandfather’s hands and the halo of sawdust on his grandfather’s grey hair. He wrapped his arms around the old man’s legs and squeezed him tight. “It’s perfect, Grandpa.”

Timmy never did learn his 3 times table, but even his teacher had to admit that the three Times tables were far more interesting.


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