Fiction in the post-pandemic
Hello Dear Readers
It’s been a busy month for me and of course, our gal pals Tiffany and Mrs Mac have also been diligent in their own ways. Mrs Mac had always been an early riser – hence her thoughts have often turned to the drinks cabinet around 10.30 am.
Tiffy is getting the hang of getting up before noon. She discovered that scheduling zoom calls with Tinder hopefuls (just prior to lunch) works out well, although these men are often at work in city offices and have to take her calls on a fire escape or inside a cubicle in the men’s loo.
Naturally, Tiffy would like to meet a man of means who was available at all hours, but her grandmother stressed the benefit of a partner with a steady job. One could not always rely on family connections……Who knew?
Mrs Mac had also insisted that Tiffany do her social media marketing homework before engaging online with possible paramours, and — this was a bitter pill indeed – she had to show grandma the project she was working on. Meanwhile, you may recall that Mrs Mac had also caught the social media bug and was contemplating her own content. While the old lady certainly has had a long and fascinating life, she well knows she had better edit quite a bit of it if she didn’t want the vice squad on her tail (a joke she shared with stony-faced Marjorie).
Let’s recap. The last time we tuned in Mrs Mac had instructed Tiffany to go up to the attic, via the scary, steep stairs to retrieve her old trunks and vintage suitcases. Mrs Mac had lost count of how many Louis Vuitton and Dior luggage items were stored there, but she was confident their contents would be a trove of fabulous memories that would naturally make riveting stories.
Faithful readers will know that I enter these stories in the monthly Furious Fiction contest run by the Australian Writers’ Centre. Each month there’s a new challenge and stimulus are provided for our 500-word (or less) stories. This time the setting had to be a court of some type, a character had to measure something and the words BALLOON, ROCK and UMBRELLA had to be used — you can add prefixes or suffixes (or even both) as long as the root word is there.
So let’s take up the story.
Mrs MacPhillamy was in the study. She rarely used that room – her late husband’s domain – preferring the conservatory with its garden views. The Chesterfield, however, was a comfy perch on which to sift through keepsakes and old photographs; the flotsam-and-jetsam of her life, that she’d squeezed into vintage trunks and boxes now piled high around her.
She was itching to start her new blog, but those yellowing photographs had a way of dragging her down memory lane.
Granddaughter Tiffany was ensconced in her own wing, allegedly partaking in a zoom class. Grandma was pleased the girl had persevered with her Social Media studies but suspected she probably fancied a boy on her virtual tutorials and was flirting madly, but not vigorously enough to dislodge the eyelash extensions. The old lady checked herself; she must be more generous. Tiffany, whatever her shortcomings, had been her anchor during the lockdown storm.
Marjorie passed by the study, carrying a tape measure and an umbrella. The housekeeper was always busy, finding chores inside and out, even during London’s legendary drizzle.
An old photo, from the early 1960s, caught Mrs Mac’s eye: Young and fit, she stood on a tennis court, white skirt skimming her knees, sleeveless T-shirt showing off toned arms and a racquet poised mid-serve. She squinted to make out her doubles partner.
“Ooh” was her first response to the handsome man pictured, quickly followed by “Urrgg”, once she realised who it was. Nonetheless, those were halcyon days.
She summoned Marjorie via WhatsApp, the device they installed for emergency purposes.
The maid appeared wearing gardening gloves.
“Marjorie, dear, I’m excited! I’m taking up tennis again. What about we put in a full-size court?”
The question was met with utter contempt by the woman who’d just measured a corner of the yard for her long-promised veggie patch.
“Madam, do we really want to bulldoze the gazebo, rip up the expensive couch and knock over the ancient elms? Just join a tennis club – much cheaper and more sociable!”
Mrs Mac was shocked by the vehemence. Where had ‘passive little Marjorie’ gone?
“Okay, yes, good. I’ll ring the Holland Park Lawn Club. It’s quite exclusive dear…”
But almost as soon as she regained her equilibrium, Mrs Mac was plunged into the deepest despair. Thoughts turned to her knobbly knees, varicose veins, tuckshop arms and a ballooning midsection that would challenge any tennis skirt. God, there was always a downside even in her rarified world.
Tiffany bounced into the study, smiled and searched the drawers for scissors and a notebook. She appeared to be clutching a handful of gravel.
“Grandma, guess what! We’re going to play an old game on zoom – ‘rock, paper, scissors’. You know it?”
“Of course I do,” Grandma scoffed, still irritated by her body’s shortcomings. “It’s a pretend game, Tiffy. You know, there’s no need for those things.”
“Oh.” The girl looked downcast.
“Oh, I’m sorry dear – but would you do your grandmother a tween-weeny favour first?
“Find me a tennis kaftan. Google bloody Harrods if you need to!”
Tune in next time and see what progress Mrs Mac has made. Will she find leisure wear that fits, will she find her muse, will she join the tennis club and will Tiffany realise that Rock Paper Scissors is a low-cost, no implements-needed, imaginary game? So many questions and so little time…..
If you’d like to dabble in our own fiction, there’s the link to the Australian Writers Centre. https://www.writerscentre.com.au/furious-fiction/
And if you like my little stories, why don’t you drop me a line?
Now, let’s get that tennis outfit sorted!