Shady Hollow Garden Club – Camilla Lee

“You are good. I can see why you’d win garden club competitions.”

“I’m a competitive person, so people say. In business and with flowers.”

Satisfied with our final design, we walk to the lobby and David places the arrangement on the center table. The florist’s arrangement of pink carnations and white chrysanthemums I stealthily transfer to a corner of the room. “Bravo!” a resident exclaims as she passes by. “So much better!” By now it’s late morning. I’m hungry, and thinking of a quiet lunch in the café. David and I depart with a “high-five.”

Back in my apartment I tidy myself up, change into a beige sweater, tie a silk scarf at the neck, and apply lipstick from a stub in the Revlon tube. In the mirror I detect a certain radiance, connected I suppose with working outdoors on a crisp sunny day. Or maybe just feeling radiant. In any case, I’m ready for lunch.

Hot food and coffee aromas lure me to the Shady Hollow Café, situated on a corridor across from the mailroom. I have no problem eating alone, although some might find that pathetic. Today I’d like to contemplate the pleasurable morning of being outdoors, working with flowers, and being with David. There’s no question I found it agreeable to have a male companion.

“Are you eating alone, Mrs. Brooks?”

“Yes please. Thank you, Mary.” The hostess’s blue eyes, magnified behind thick glasses, match the powder blue of her jacket. “MARY” is spelled out in large letters on a name tag.

“I have the perfect table by a window.”

“Yoo-hoo, Adelaide! Over here! Come join us! From a booth across the room Poppy is waving her arm in a large arc. Poppy is a waver. “Come sit with us!” Even though I want to eat alone, or thought I did, I am pleased to be invited to sit with Poppy and Lauren. I am learning the names of the garden club members by word associations. Poppy is a popover. Lauren is Lauren Bacall. This Lauren, also elegant, has her hair done in a pageboy style reminiscent of my high school yearbook.

She has a quiet voice.

“So, how was your date?” Poppy inquires.

“My date?”

“You know. With David. Weren’t you going to pick lilacs with him this morning?”

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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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