Shady Hollow Garden Club – Camilla Lee

He advances. Slurring he says: “They must be here somewhere.” But he isn’t looking at the carton. He’s looking at Marianne. His arm is stretched forward, leaning against the wall. He leans towards her. Only the carton is holding them apart. With the back of his hand he lightly touches her cheek. “Hi Marianne,” I say, coming into the room with assertive energy. “Want some help?” Jack steps back and gives me that menacing look I so remember.

“Jack Morgan,” I say. “At Shady Hollow. You haven’t changed. How ironic. From fraternity house to retirement home. The man remains the same.”

“Adelaide, what the fuck, you’ve got some imagination. I was helping Marianne find the wine glasses.”

“Find the wine glasses. Right. Of course you were, Jack.”

“That’s it. You’re sick. I’m going to grab Lauren. We’re out of here.”

Marianne, looking shaken, whispers: “Thank you. I wasn’t sure how to get away.”

Two weeks later, being in a social mood, I visit the library and the mailroom and think about having lunch in the café. In the mailroom there is Bitsy fussing about the bulletin board, straightening notices and discarding old ones. “Hi Adelaide, this is such a mess. There are past dated lectures and obsolete notices.”

She crumples papers, tossing them to the trash basket, usually missing. Bitsy, in her blue sneakers. “Adelaide, could you do me a favor. Hand me my supply box. Can you look inside and get more thumbtacks.”

In the shoebox with thumb tacks and glue is a small “Zip-Loc” bag stuffed with words cut out from magazines and catalogs. Bitsy, It was you! You’re the person who wrote: You’re Not the One and Only. What were you talking about? And poor Lauren, you upset her so much with the note you sent to her.”

“Oh dear oh dear,” she replies. “I didn’t mean to hurt anyone. When I’m upset I compose these notes out of magazine words and put them in the mail, without thinking. I can’t stop myself. When I saw you and David cutting lilacs I had a flash of envy, and that set me off. But mostly it’s because I like spreading the cut-out words on top of a table, and composing messages. And gluing them to cards. I’m compulsive that way.

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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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