Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Forties Club Finalist #72

by Aerin Rose


“No, it’s me, Kate.” She pulled the lavender nightgown over the old woman’s head.

“You’re leaving.”

“Yes, remember? That I’m going back to college?”

“What about my violets?”

“Don’t you worry, I wrote everything down. I marked the watering can at just the right amount.”

“The garden?”

“A walk in the gardens at 2PM, the new girl knows that, too.”

“The blinds?”

“Yes, I’ll tell her to close the blinds at bedtime.”

“Audrey. The necklace.”

“No, ma’am, I’m Kate.” She ran a brush gently through the sparse hair. “Which necklace?”

“I wore white to the ball, of course. Debutantes. Virginal my ass. But to Casino Night, I wore emerald silk, cut low. I had the bosoms for it then. A dyed ostrich feather in my hair. Daddy wanted a deal with the Carruthers. Bought me a 23 carat green tourmaline surrounded with diamonds. Believe you me, Jack Carruthers noticed. I’m pretty sure your mother was conceived that night. She had Jack’s eyes.”

Kate said quietly, “I’m not Audrey.”

“Your mother burns through money like marijuana.”

“She’s not my—What’s this?” Kate frowned at the little envelope that the older woman pushed into her hand.

“The key. For the safe deposit box. I put the necklace away, oh, years ago. Figure it’s worth ninety, a hundred thousand.”

“Mrs. Carruthers, I’m not…”

“She stuck me in this nursing home. Where they don’t even serve Rocky Road. Sell the necklace, dear. To pay for school.”


Michelle D. Argyle said...

Nice! I like this a lot. It's a great example of showing, and love, love, love the paragraph where she's talking about the ball. Well done!

Loren Eaton said...

Holy mackeral, twenty-three carats is a darn big stone. And a nursing home without rocky road is an awful, awful thing. Well done, Queenie.

Joni said...

HA! Never underestimate grandma.

The set up was perfect, the ending dynomite.

Great job.

JaneyV said...

YEAY! AERIN! So glad to see you here! And may I say that this is just a wonderful piece. The characters are perfect. Mrs Carruthers is who i want to be when I grow old - Virginal my ass. Her story about the Casino night was just so good.

And most of all Aerin - thank you, thank you, thank you for writing a character who is honest. I truly believe that most people are and that the glimpse of a jewel isn't enough to corrupt the moral fibre of us all.

Wonderful - really really good!

PJD said...

Nicely done. Nice to see you in the 40s club, but I'm not just being nice when I say I expected nothing less! Feels nice, doesn't it?

The girl will certainly have a nice life with that nice payoff. Too bad for Mrs. Carruther's daughter that she didn't treat her nicely!

(Are you nice and drunk yet?)

strugglingwriter said...

Very nicely done ( ;) ).

Your description was quite vivid and the dialog moved the story along quite well. I got to know these characters in only 250 words.

Meghan said...

Very nice. I really like the ending. :)

Precie said...


And lol at Pete!

Catherine Vibert said...

I was breathlessly awaiting your presence here Aerin! Searching with forlorned brow at your absence, and then you appeared *cue heavenly choral music*, and I always knew you'd be here all along, and I knew you'd be one of the last.

But to the point, I truly loved this. I was completely going along with the senility and was truly surprised when it turned out she knew what she was doing all along. Beautiful dialogue. My favorite line of the whole story that made me laugh right outloud was “Your mother burns through money like marijuana.”

Humor, compassion, two backstories and a great twist, all in 250 words. Brava!

Catherine Vibert said...

Or so it seemed to me (that she knew what she was doing), perhaps that was just my hope, because otherwise it means that girl is stealing, and that is just wrong.

Katherine Tomlinson said...

Nice spin at the end there...I enjoyed this story very much.

Richard Levangie said...

A terrific story, Aerin Bender-Stone! I see more ambiguity than the other readers, but I think that adds immeasurably the depth of feeling you've created in just 250 words.

B. Nagel said...

In the words of Billy Buddy when talking about the smell of fabric softener: "So good."

You killed this. And that old lady is sharp as a tack. She know who's really taking care of her.

I love the bosoms line.

Laurel said...


I love how the POV goes through a subtle shift from a caregiver doing a conscientious job looking out for an old woman who might or might not be checked out in the upstairs to this insightful dowager who doesn't miss a trick.

I also love how she slowly reveals that she fully knows what she is doing, she is not being taken advantage of.

You rocked it, Aerin! GO!

bekbek said...

Wow, this is really great, Aerin. I do think there's a very real tinge of senility or dementia here, but it's bang on. My Mom, sadly, has Alzheimer's, and what she actually says lately often has little connection with reality, but at times it is clear even so that she knows what she MEANS to say and what she MEANS to do. And I think your character can even be unfairly angry at her family/daughter, but that doesn't change the real hurt and the real desire that something of her magical youth, of her passion, be carried onward.

It's very bittersweet, and I liked it a great deal.

Chris Eldin said...

Wanting more of Mrs. Carruthers! More! More!
Ditto Janey. Love the honesty, as well as the optimism in this piece.
A pleasure to read.

Oddyoddyo13 said...

Loved the relationship between them! (And not just because she got a REALLY expensive necklace out of it. LoL)

Dottie Camptown said...

I think this is my favorite of all your CoN entries. Beautiful character development that evolved through the dialogue. Great!

C.Sonberg Larson said...

Really enjoyed reading this. Love the fact that, despite calling Kate 'Audrey' throughout the story, Mrs.Carruthers' was obviously lucid when she gave Kate the key. Leaves the reader lingering a bit after reading it. Nice

February Grace said...

I loved it.

That's all I can say. I just loved it.

Timothy P. Remp said...

Wonderful touching piece.

chong y l said...

GreAt story telling. Like Oliver, I'm asking for more/aMore:). YL, Desi

AidanF said...

I love the woman's voice. The chattiness reminds me a little of an elderly woman who was my housemate in grad school. The final response in the dialogue closes this piece nicely.

McKoala said...

Ha, an old lady with bite, love it. Great character and the para about the ball is very evocative.

No Rocky Road! The cruelty of the young.

Aniket Thakkar said...

Ditto to Dottie (This has a nice ring to it, when you say it out loud. Ditto to Dottie :P)

This is your best CoN entry. I honestly loved it. And I believe you have a good chance for being in the top 5.

I know for sure it'll be one of Aine's fav. Since she has lived many such wonderful stories working in the old age home. I'm pretty sure she hasn't lived any story where she was gifted a hundred thousand worth necklace, but wonderful stories none-the-less.

This was awesome!

JR's Thumbprints said...

So, let me get this straight: The old woman was testing her to see if she was an honest person before rewarding her?

Anonymous said...

I appreciate everyone's comments particularly because I do love this community so much.

As for interpretation (JR!) - don't look at me, I'm just the writer.

Unknown said...

Hi Aerin

I can feel the senility of the character. But those moments of clarity are incredible though they may be fleeting. Then, I had the feeling that she was saying 'Audrey' because she wanted to make sure she wasn't present and did inadvertently obtain the necklace. Wily.

Oh, nicely done!

Dottie :)

Deb Smythe said...

Aerin, great use of dialogue. You gotta love Mrs. Caruthers! She sharper than she seemed, for sure. I really liked your mind control story from the last con(that was you wasn't it?). And with this, you'll make my short list again.

Michael Morse said...

I like the way Mrs. Carruthers went from seeming dementia to lucidity, almost at will, but you never really let us know her true clarity of mind.

I actually went to the twenties with you as you described the ball, or at least my vision of the twenties.

Sarah Laurenson said...


I've been there - taking care of someone who is both there and not there. The moment of lucidity at the end was stunning and so true to life.

Great character!

J. Elis Morgan said...

I kept waiting for the character of Kate to turn into just another, money-grubbing thief, especially after she asked: "Which necklace?"

You ended it much more unexpectedly and much more effectively than what my imagination was conjuring up. Well done!

Angel Zapata said...

You had me at "marijuana." Helluva ending.

Angel Zapata said...

You had me at "marijuana." Helluva ending.

Rachel Green said...

Not batty at all. Loved this.

SzélsőFa said...

wow, i didn't see the end ;) what a twist.
great writing, congratulations on winning.

SzélsőFa said...

uhm, some comments were referring to a Mrs Carruthers - but I guess she was not his wife, was she?
anyway, i liked it a lot.

raine said...

Late to the party, but not one BIT surprised to see you as a finalist, Aerin. :)

LOVED this story. It didn't tug at my heart strings. It softly grabbed a good, meaty handful and demanded attention. Your characters were wonderfully drawn in a few subtle strokes--and I am so durn proud of you, yay!