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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Empty Nester/Retirement (from work) (09/10/09)

TITLE: The Five Retired Musketeers
By Ifeoma Dennis


My four friends and I, friends that have seen thirty-five summers together in the same college as lecturers in different fields, sat in a quiet restaurant uptown, with glasses of fruit juice.

“Girls, it’s so good to share drinks again with…the all of us!” Tall, skinny Amber, fiery and outspoken as her name, said aloud, raising her glass.

“Well, not even retirement can separate us,” I added, raising my glass too.

“The five musketeers forever,” quiet-spoken Sam decreed, with Sheri and Ndeme concurring with their glasses.

“I went over to stay with Louis and his family, but I couldn’t help feeling at some point that I was cramping their style; the way these young people live these days is so scary. They leave their children early and come back late, and I tried telling them of how we lived during our time, I mean, Louis should still remember, but they are all so career-minded. At some point, I had to find my way back to…us,” Amber told us, without any prompting. Louis was the son and only child she had with her deceased husband, Ume.

“At first, Chris and I were undecided on what to do. We opened a car spare parts shop but it just was not our thing. Then we joined this Christian evangelism group and we’re touring countries now, reaching out to young people in Africa, for starters.” Chris was Sheri’s husband, “Last week, we were in Morocco, and it was great staying with the young Christians there!” Sheri could hardly keep the ecstasy out of her voice.

“Morocco!” we shrieked like little kids. I have never even been to Morocco.

“You had always had this passion for travelling,” Amber remarked as the ever-beautiful Sheri beamed with smiles.

“All the best,” we added.

“Touring Africa won’t stop you from being one of us though,” Amber told Sheri.

“No…never!” Sheri declared, shaking her head.
“So what has everyone else been up to?" She asked, fixing her eyes on me.

Luckily, Sam came to my rescue.
“Alex and I moved to the country and we completed this house that we have always been building all through our work years, and we now have this big conservatory. You girls got to see it!”

You see, I do not know why we keep calling ourselves “girls”, but we always do. Maybe “women” or “retirees” sound heavy to the mouth. “Ladies” would be a good idea but it sounds foreign, and adds a bit of age to it, and I think we still like to believe we are girls, retired though.

“I’m your first guest,” Amber raised her hand. I raised mine too, and the rest of we “musketeers” did the same.

“Trent and I are still confused on what to do, but what we do know is that we’d love to buy a house near a golf course with the gratuity, and I’m thinking Ikoyi would be a nice place.” Ndeme confided in us.

“Then get started!” Amber urged, “Girls, it’s been four months since we retired, and we just have to have a plan for the rest of our lives!”

“Yeah,” Sheri agreed.

“I’d be the first to agree I don’t even have any plan now. I just wish Ume was around,” Amber said, “the house gets so lonely at times. Empty rooms, empty spaces, I make a sound and I hear the echo. My husband is dead, my son is married and all I have is this empty nester for company. Sometimes, it feels being retired is another way of saying your life is almost over.”

“No,” Ndeme shook her head, “what of those that retire at forty?”

“What about you, Titi?” Sheri asked me presently.

I rolled my eyes upwards for a second. I had no children, was never married, and I knew more about loneliness than Amber did. “I’ve always loved to have a house by the sea, I guess that’s going to be quite expensive but I’m going to start writing for a couple of magazines. For now though, I think I’d like to tour the world and adopt a sweet Spanish little girl.”
My eyes lit up at the thought. I would go to Morocco and all the places I have always wanted to see.
My life would not pass me by.

“I’m with you,” it was Amber. “I’d start my own design house after the world tour!”

Who said our lives were almost over?

We raised our glasses.

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