This completes the story from my last blogpost. It is a story from FIFTEEN REASONS FOR A LATE NIGHT, the first of my two short story anthologies. Comments are welcome! as are any emailed enquiries if you’d like to purchase the anthologies [email@example.com]
The following day her visitors head for the mall.
“I’ll stay home, if you don’t mind,” says Joyce. “I’ve got letters to write, and need to keep off my feet. I’ll make you tea cakes.”
In her patch of sunshine she mixes batter in a bowl as she polishes off magazine puzzles. There’s a tricky clue: “extra quick, frenzied” with eight letters apparently starting with ‘f’. Frantic? No, that’s seven. Darn it.
The young ones bustle in for lunch. “Here’s something for you!” Angie brandishes a carrier bag emblazoned with “ZING!” — one of the lifestyle shops. “Towels, the right green.” Forest green, in fact, with sporty black-and-white checked borders.
Joyce’s jaw drops. She’s never done sporty.
“And,” — Angie snatches the salt-and-pepper set off the dining table — “If you must have salt out, better these that match your glass-topped table.”
Joyce blinks at the two large chrome-and-glass peppermill things, and the table whose purchase they orchestrated on their last visit. Her salt-and-pepper, crude though they may seem, she won at Bingo.
“Oh.” Joyce pours fizzy Just Juice into a jug. In comparison her day seems flat. This time yesterday she was thinking Ah, Andy’s on his way… Her life ribbon, usually no more than pleasant undulations, is marred by zigs, zags and jags.
To the tea cakes and wholemeal bread, Joyce adds salad, leftover silverside and relish from the Brownie’s stall.
Angie frowns at the relish. “Oh, there’s sugar in that. Do you have French dressing, or Italian?” Joyce’s eyes roll to the ceiling. Her ribbon is knotted and stretched taut.
Monday of the long weekend, it’s all go. Angie strips the beds and Andy telephones someone that they’re on their way. They thank Joyce and after a flurry of activity their car glides away.
Frenetic, was it? The puzzle clue?
Rain drizzles, but Joyce’s prospect is sunny. She consigns the dark green towels to the washing machine (there’s no absorbency in unwashed towels). As the machine churns, she reads a real-life magazine story “Hell at the Hands of Plastic Surgeons”.
Towards lunchtime, she switches the TV over ready for Miss Marple, warms the last slice of bacon-and-egg pie, and inspects her unit. The old pink floral towel from her late friend Betty is reinstalled. So is the mauve facecloth, because that’s the colour Joyce wishes the bathroom was. The threadbare bathmat is discovered in the Kleensak. And reinstated.
Out comes the tablecloth embroidered many moons ago with ladies wearing bonnets and bearing watering cans, to hide the glass tabletop. Joyce’s ribbon de-knots and subsides comfortably.
With a fanfare of trumpets only she can hear, Joyce sets her Bingo salt-and-pepper set dead centre, one each side of the lady with the pink bonnet…
…but eats lunch on her knee, in her recliner, watching Miss Marple.
And it’s heaven.