FICTION IN THE POST-PANDEMIC – Episode 20
Happy New Year Tiffany & Mrs Mac fans!
How are we all going with our New Year’s resolutions? Well, I’ve started the decluttering and ‘late’ spring cleaning tasks….none of which are particularly enjoyable but they must be done!
I do love the quiet time between Christmas and New Year and the early January days when everyone’s on holiday, the editors are off doing whatever they do and all the folks I usually correspond with (for work) are away. It’s a good excuse to read and do assorted tasks.
I’m not sure whether Mrs Mac has made any New Year’s solutions but I dare say cutting down on G&Ts is not one of them. Perhaps she’s doing a bit of decluttering and throwing out old ballgowns and sequinned cruise cocktail outfits – giving them to the down-and-out via a West End charity shop – so she can make room for new outfits…..Bless her.
Well, folks let’s get stuck into my latest little fiction piece.
But let’s recall what happened in Episode 19. It wasn’t one of our happiest jaunts, mind you, as Mrs Mac had discovered, via Marjorie’s sleuthing, that her potential paramour, Henry, had not only been stealing her silverware but selling it on the internet, helped by a cocktail waitress, with the codename ‘Sally Below Decks’. The mind does boggle. Mrs Mac received the news with G&T in hand, so that did help a little bit. But let’s see what happened next.
But first, let’s check out the challenge for this fiction piece. Frequent readers will know that the Australian Writers’ Centre gives us a stimulus and off we go and write our 500-word masterpiece in 55 hours or less.
The rules this time were:
One of the characters had to make a choice
The words chair, click, album and bright had to be used; prefixes and suffixes can be used.
Here we go. I hope you enjoy it and the New Year.
Mrs MacPhillamy had sat slumped in her favourite chair by the fire for what seemed like weeks.
Tiffany who’d joined a new Instagram self-help group, “Psycho-Babes”, was thrilled with the diagnosis her cyberbuddies had offered.
“I think Grandma’s depressed Marjorie,” she said rather too brightly to the maid.
“Well, dear you don’t have to sound so happy about it.”
“Oh sorry. I’m not happy, but I love it when MY Insta friends give me help with just one click. It’s awesome.”
Marjorie resisted an eye roll.“Well, dear, your grandmother has had a shock. She’s adjusting to it.”
Marjorie was surprised at how hard Mrs Mac was taking the break-up with paramour Henry. Marjorie had had her suspicions about the alleged retired cruise ship captain for a while; she’d wondered why he always carried a small photo album, filled with pictures of himself in smart uniform, hob-knobbing with sequinned cruise guests, whenever he came to dinner.
But once she discovered he was selling Mrs Mac’s silverware on Facebook Antiques Marketplace, aided and abetted by a floozy, she’d had to act.
Mrs MacPhillamy was initially stoic, taking the news on the chin – but soon retreated to a corner of the drawing room.
Tiffany and Marjorie were at a loss; the old lady had waved away her usual lunchtime G&T and declined to join Tiffany to jeer at contestants on The Bachelor. Strangely, however, she clung to her iPad like a life raft.
Marjorie resumed her dusting rounds just as the landline rang. She answered, raising an eyebrow at Tiffy.
“Madam,” she said: “It’s Henry – do you want to take it or shall I say you’re out.”
“Of course, Marjorie. Bring the phone here and please leave the room, dear.”
Marjorie retreated. She and Tiffy pressed their ears to the door.
“Henry,” the old lady began. “Glad you got my email. Now here’s your choice. Return my silverware and Queen’s Jubilee plate.”
She paused to listen.
“I don’t care if they’re sold. Buy them back and return my possessions within the week. Or I’ll be calling Cunard. They’d love to hear about your larceny – especially from me, their loyal customer.”
She paused, somewhat triumphantly.
“What do you mean you never worked for Cunard? You’re a captain aren’t you?”
“What!” she screeched. “You were the master of a cargo ship! A bulk carrier!
“Oh, Henry you poor sod. I’m pretty sure it’s a crime to masquerade as a Cunard captain. I believe we have photos.”
Mrs Mac hung up and strode into the hallway.
“Now ladies,” she addressed the women. “I am taking that round-the-world cruise. Marjorie, do you want to come? Your choice – don’t look forlorn. You won’t have to do any maid-like things. It’s a bloody holiday.”
“Tiffy, you coming? Darling, make a choice. Earn some money or stay home. Naturally, I’m paying the fare, but I’m not paying for your vodka shots.
“Now Tiff, get me Beatrice from Regal Travel on the phone.
“Marjorie, mix me a G&T.”
Well, folks, that’s more like it! Mrs Mac has regained her mojo. There’s no way a woman of Mrs MacPhillamy’s mettle will let an old cad like Henry – the fake Cunard captain – derail her for long. So now that she’s pulled on her big-girl pants and given Tiffy and Marjorie their ultimatums she’s free to pursue her interests — looking forward to an extended holiday on the high seas and perhaps shopping for a few trinkets at Harrods to take on the voyage.
But will this smooth sailing last? Will there be any hiccups along the way? You’d better stay tuned.
If you’d like to enter the Australian Writers’ Centre Furious Fiction competition and flex those fictional muscles in the New Year – then hop to it! Here’s the link: https://www.writerscentre.com.au/furious-fiction/
And once again I thank Unsplash for the use of their fantastic free images and also to Museums Victoria for the naval photos – especially the fun main image of the WWII men sitting on that big gun — it’s a favourite of Mrs Mac’s. https://unsplash.com/