I have a lot of snippets of fiction stashed in my computer or in notebooks–beginnings of stories or simply stand alones where I’ve played with voice or character. So, from time to time I’ll post a short piece. For today, meet Gladys–a woman of a certain age.
A morning when I sleep until 6 is a luxury for me. 4, 4:30, 5–I’m awake so why not just get up and get going? What do I do so early? Well, there’s always something to do isn’t there? I sometimes hear people talk about being bored. Just the other day, in fact, I was in the checkout line at Stop and Shop and this woman behind me was talking on her phone–one of those little flippy things– my niece wants me to get one–for safety she says.
Anyway, there I was, using my time in line to try to remember the lines of a poem I’d memorized earlier–I do that to keep my brain agile–so I’m running the lines in my mind but I keep getting distracted by this one way chatter about nothing. What brand of tomato soup she was buying, what she’d done over the weekend or hadn’t done and how boring it all was. Well, I thought, you just lack imagination. No excuse to ever be bored.
This morning I got up at 4:30. It was just starting to get light so I made my tea and sat on the back porch watching the sun come up. I can just see it off to the right through some trees–not as nice as watching it come up over the ocean–oh that’s a treat–but still it’s nice to punctuate the day with a sunrise.
There were lots of birds around. I took a class once to learn bird calls but I got them all mixed up so I just listen and don’t worry about who’s saying what to whom. It’s all just mating anyway isn’t it? Hey chickie chickie look at me!
I made a little breakfast–a piece of toast–and then I went for a walk–a slow walk these days–just around the block but I’ve got to keep the joints moving. My niece worries about me. “Gladys,” she says, “someday you’re going to go out for that morning walk and it will be dark and you’ll fall and then what?” So I’m supposed to stay inside for the remainder of my days? I don’t think so. If I fall and break a hip, so be it.
At 6 I went to Susan’s place down the road to have my hair done. Every Thursday she fits me in early like that before her family gets up and gets her going. Susan does it nice–simple, not a lot of goop–just the way I like it. Course the hair is getting kinda thin these days–if I live to be a really old lady I’ll be bald! Imagine that!
By 7 I was at the diner for a real breakfast with my friends Hannah and Marie–the biddy’s breakfast we call it. Twice a week. The waitress knows our orders–a poached egg for me and more tea. We like her because she treats us like friends not wrinkled up babies.
There’s a lot I still want to do. My great niece is learning to play the guitar and I thought that looks like fun, playing an instrument. But not the guitar. I want something peppier.
I thought maybe the accordion but that would be too big–I’ve shrunk you know–happens when you get older–all your body parts just start to shrivel up. I went to the music store down on Spruce Street and asked to try an accordion on for size. Ha! Should have seen the look on that fellow’s face. “This is for you?” Well, who else?
But soon as I put those straps over my shoulders I knew it would be too big. “Don’t you have something smaller?” I asked. So he showed me something called a concertina–just the ticket–but it sure does cost a lot.
I let my niece know that if she’s looking for a birthday present for me, well maybe my birthday could come a little early and everyone could chip in. She thinks I’m nuts. I think I’m a good role model. That’s what I tell her. You’re middle aged now, I say, but pay attention–old age is just around the corner.