#FlashFiction: Project Gutenberg – The stories

Gray Hairs made Happy

Tuesday’s dawn was more subtle than the day before, the colours of the sun rising being gently filtered through the low clouds; they’d only dissipate once the sun was high enough in the sky to burn them off. Sat in her usual spot on the terrace, Edna put aside her shawl and reached for her café con leche. Yesterday’s churros were a touch stale, but perfectly adequate when dipped into the hot milky liquid.

She enjoyed the peace & quiet of Tuesdays and Thursdays – the in between days when Carmen didn’t come. Carmen – her angel – who came three days a week to clean, to cook, to take Edna to the market for provisions, and to cheerfully carry out any other tasks needed now Edna herself was less able. It had been a wrench to move from the big house on the coast, filled as it was with memories of Russ and their retirement together. But it was not only too big, the weather was cooler up here in the mountains, and all their friends had died too or moved back home to live near their children.

She’d first met Carmen at the Smiths, handing around canapes. The day of the Smith’s farewell bash, she’d found her shedding a quiet tear, and discovered that she was to return to her mountainside family home once the Smiths had left. Feeling for the distressed woman, Edna had asked her about life in the mountains. It was to be the first of many conversations they would have, and when Edna found new owners for the big house, she’d followed Carmen to the mountains.

The sale of the big house and the purchase of the little one had all taken time – as is the way in Spanish property transactions. Fortunately she had the support of Carmen and her local contacts, otherwise buying the little house would never have happened. She’d needed to gain the formal agreement of so many local dignitaries, to her – a foreigner – buying a property in their small town. She’d long ago obtained formal residency status, but becoming a Spanish national simply wasn’t an option open to her.

Today Edna planned to clean and polish her silver tea service. Carmen had pulled out the trunk from beneath her bed and she’d selected a few pieces she wanted to display. Of course it had taken a long time to carry out that simple task, for Carmen had wanted to see everything, asking for the stories behind them and about the memories they held. They’d not got much else done, but it had been a good day. Those memories were now old enough not to cause sadness – which is why she’d put all those beautiful things away in the trunk. Carmen, clever Carmen, had known that now the time was right.

The tea set was the first of the trunk’s contents to be displayed in her little house. Carmen had offered to clean it, but Edna was keen to give it a try for this was her best time. It was long enough after the brief damp and colder months of winter for her arthritic knuckles to have recovered some movement, but not yet so hot that she’d become easily fatigued. And she loved that tea set – it brought back so many happy memories of her life with Russ.

Of course, in those days she’d not have been bothered with the cleaning and polishing of silver – or indeed of anything. Their spacious homes always ran as efficiently and smoothly as a Swiss clock, thanks to a fleet of loyal and highly skilled staff. Without the worry of its upkeep, it was one of Edna’s joys to use the tea set on those rare occasions she and Russ were able to take afternoon tea alone.

Their lives in India had been such a social whirl, those were such precious moments to her. Russ loved the spotlight – she’d loved him dearly, but wasn’t blind to his vanity and need for constant attention. She was no shrinking violet herself, gaining quite the buzz from entertaining. Their home was regularly filled with people – old friends and new, maharajahs and hippies, all mixed together. Edna’s parties were famed, for she was quite the hostess. The details mattered and Edna never missed a single one.

But those days were long gone and Edna loved her quiet life in her little house in the mountains. Soon she’d set up at her table, spread out an old towel, put out her cleaning and polishing materials, and get to work. Right now though, she would enjoy the sunrise, the warmth of her café con leche, the crunch of the churros – the little details that made her new life so filled with joy.

© Debra Carey, 2021

Author: debscarey

Tweets @debsdespatches My personal blog is Debs Despatches, where I ramble on a variety of topics. I write fiction on co-hosted site Fiction Can Be Fun, where my #IWSG reflections can be found; and my Life Coaching business can be found on DebsCarey.com.

3 thoughts on “#FlashFiction: Project Gutenberg – The stories”

  1. Thank you David for finding one of my (many!) favourite authors and one of his lesser known works. Interesting story you have woven around it.

    Thank you Debs for a very moving story of ageing. Very delicately handled and what an evocative opening paragraph.

    I was tempted to enter this time myself but am caught up in a major editing project at the moment – the word by word, comma by comma sort – and I dared not. Next time maybe.

    Liked by 1 person

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