Shady Hollow Garden Club – Camilla Lee

“Oh how marvelous!” Poppy says.

“What fun!” another says. Somebody else: “I’ll bring my crab dip.” “I’ll bring Scotch and soda.” Soon everyone is talking at once. David adds: “This will inspire me to unpack the cartons in the basement. I need to find some wine glasses.”

“Are husbands invited?” Poppy asks. Poppy and Lauren have husbands. Although Lauren’s husband probably won’t come. She tells us his hearing is bad, and he avoids parties. Poppy’s husband is like Poppy. He’s genial, and walks around talking to anyone who’ll listen.

“Of course husbands are invited,” David states.

“Adelaide! Ethel! Ladies!” Poppy continues her excitement after the meeting, beckoning us to stay. “What are you going to wear?”

“I have a caftan from Egypt, from my trip to Cairo.” Ethel says. “It’s very comfortable and roomy.” “I have a long velvet skirt. Does anyone wear long skirts any more?” another woman says. You’d think we were planning for a prom.

Lauren will wear a black dress and pearls.

Not a problem for me; black pants and a turquoise silk top with a Chinese design. It’s the one outfit that gives me confidence. People say the color suits me.

David’s apartment is located at the end of Oakwood West, as far as you can go from me. The walk is good exercise. A slightly bent woman pushing a walker and I pass each other in the corridor. A basket on the walker handlebar contains a small white poodle, who is looking forward, like a searchlight. The poodle, Daisy, is a well-known canine at Shady Hollow. I said a hearty good evening to the woman (whose name I can’t remember) and a “Good evening Daisy!” to the dog.

The door to David’s apartment is open a crack; I let myself in, and quietly observe the scene before me, as though watching a stage play. David, vigorously shaking a silver martini shaker, is talking to Ethel. Poppy and her husband Bert stand together. Bert has a happy demeanor and bald pate. One woman leans over the dinner table, setting out glasses and plates of hors’ d’oeuvres. A white damask cloth covers the table. With the shiny silver hair, I don’t recognize her from the club. “David, are there cocktail napkins?” she calls into the kitchen. Who? Marianne? What’s she doing here? When she looks up and sees me her face assumes a smug expression.

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  1. Barbara Crouchley says:

    Camilla’s quiet humor and her observant eye make all these characters real and familiar. And her simple sentences laced with such wit ( between the isobars my mind also wanders). Love reading her short stories. Thank you for publishing this….. I’ll see you there but not in the garden club!

  2. isabel Goff says:

    Loved the story Camilla. Thanks. Izzy

  3. Sarah Lee says:

    Great short story! Love the setting and characters. They were all very well developed. I could smell the lilacs!

  4. Freya says:

    Brilliant! Perfect! Spot on! More!

  5. Perfect!! LEE’s timing is spot on. She never lingers too long nor hammers hard on the surprises. Didn’t want the story to end…more PLEASE from this gifted, wry, insightful writer!

  6. MaryEthel Stack says:

    I can hear your voice, Camilla. Glad you can write so positively about community living. Hope you are going to stay in your big, old house. Enjoyed this story.

  7. Judy Taft says:

    Wonderful story by Camilla Lee. She has a seemingly effortless style, a slightly wicked sense of humor, and spot on-observations about people, in this case, the inhabitants of a retirement home.Would love to read more of her work!

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