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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Bridge (07/31/08)

TITLE: Mrs. Weaver Eliminates the F Word


I point out a gap in the crown molding to Arlene, my friend and real estate agent. “It’s a crevice, not a gap,” she says. She knows what’s coming next. “The baseboards are off, too—right?”

I nod. Arlene is being patient. This place is beautiful, just like the last eight she’s shown me.

I’m not ready. I don’t want to sell my house and buy this or any other condo. I don’t want to talk with my children, either. They’re in college, never been married, but now they’ve read a few books and they’re full of expertise. Psycho-babble irritates me.

“This condo association has a huge activities center,” says Arlene, pressing the key into the lock box. She plies me with this because for years I’ve talked about various activities that would be fun to try as soon as the kids are grown. She must not remember Ted was an integral part of those dreams. We were just waiting for the right time. That thought is so profoundly depressing that it’s several minutes before I realize we aren’t going out to the car.


“I told you—the activities center.” I stop. She links her arm in mine and drags me down the carpeted corridor.

“This isn’t how it was supposed to be,” I say. “It isn’t fair—” I sneak a quick glance to see if she’s caught me.

“Stop using the f word,” she says, pushing me through a set of glass double doors. She has every right to say that. She never found Mr. Right. She never had children, although she’s been a great “Aunt Arlene” to mine, and her fibro makes movement on some days unbearable. I should feel ashamed to complain, but my inhibitions are nowhere in sight.

“I’m too young to be a widow,” I continue. Arlene squeezes my bicep. We have come into a large quiet room. Card tables with four people each are arranged in a grid pattern. The woman with her back to us, keeping time, reminds me of someone. Her graying, silvery hair is twisted at the nape of her neck. The Tartan plaid skirt falls to mid calf above her sensible loafers. She turns as if she feels my eyes frisking her.

“It’s your mother!” I blurt under my breath to Arlene.

“I know—I grew up with her, remember?”

“You want me to live in the same complex as your mother?” Mrs. Weaver is striding toward us, her arms already open toward Arlene—or me—it’s hard to tell. She encircles us both.

“What a surprise,” she says in a low voice.

“Just showed Lana one of the units.”

“I didn’t realize this is where you had moved to, Mrs. Weaver—and you've already organized cards.”

“Bridge. But Lana, we’ve lived here over a year and a half.”

“That long?”

She excuses herself because it’s almost time for East and West to move.

“I can’t believe you tried to put me into a retirement community.”

“It’s a social community—for people who aren’t satisfied living as their own little island—isolated.” I check the hair of the bridge players, mostly gray or balding, but there are some darker heads.

“Come on,” says Arlene, reaching up, putting her arm around my shoulder. “Haven’t you always wanted to try bridge, or golf, or skydiving? I always have.” Her skydive? With fibro? She must be joking.

“How can you be so callous? You know all that was wrapped up with Ted.” She removes her arm from me, but I feel the comfort of the phantom appendage. It’s been there since the day Ted died which seems like only a few weeks ago.

“It’s been over two years; I thought you might be ready,” she says.

A possibility slides into my brain: maybe Arlene isn’t joking; maybe she really wants to skydive.

Mrs. Weaver has just set the next game into play and is returning to us. “Have you ever played bridge?” she asks me.

“No—but I’ve thought about it.” I look over at my friend and try to convey my newly acquired enlightenment.

“We play Duplicate Bridge here. I was tired of people complaining everyone else had been dealt better cards. In Duplicate Bridge everyone plays the same hands. It’s what you do with them that makes you a winner. It eliminates the f word.”

Arlene may have problems, but God blessed her with a wise mother. No psycho-babble there.

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This article has been read 1050 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Heather Sargent08/07/08
I really enjoyed this piece. Well done!
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/07/08
You took us down the primrose path with the "F" word didn't you! I felt real sympathy for your mc and the loss of her husband.
Anita van der Elst08/08/08
Great perspective!
Susan Storm Smith08/08/08
I found myself reading with a very thoughtful nod. You have written an awesome heart-tug story that I will remember for some time.
Arlene Showalter08/10/08
I particularly appreciated your name choice for the wise friend/real estate agent. *grin*

Important message in this story. If we're still breathing, we still have purpose on this earth!
Marlene Austin08/10/08
You have a gift for making the characters come to life in so few words. Very nice. :)
Karen Wilber08/13/08
I don't know anything about playing Bridge, but I'll be thinking about this today. "In Duplicate Bridge everyone plays the same hands. It’s what you do with them that makes you a winner."
Carole Robishaw 08/13/08
Good writing,, I liked where this took me.
Beckie Stewart08/13/08
This was very good. I enjoyed the character descriptions and how they came to life on the page.
Joanne Sher 08/13/08
Great title - and a wonderful story!Super job with characterization especially. Super.
Lyn Churchyard08/13/08
From the title to the last word, this kept me reading. I felt Lana's irritation with Arlene and giggled at “I know—I grew up with her, remember?”. Great entry Lisa :)

Gerald Shuler 08/13/08
Enjoyed this very much. I'll never use the "F" word again.
Chely Roach08/13/08
Great characters and dialogue...loved the "f" word thing, lol! Well done!
Shirley McClay 08/13/08
I think those places sound like fun! I love how you used the dialogue and descriptions to draw us right along with you. Great story!
Sara Harricharan 08/13/08
Heehee! I like how this turned out. Very good. I loved the MC's thoughts to herself and the famous line of "Is that your mother?" lol-very fun! I especially like how the title fits this piece. Good job. ^_^
Mariane Holbrook 08/13/08
I HAD to read it because of the title! And it didn't disappoint me! It's a great story and you are a master of descriptive phrases. Kudos!
william price08/13/08
I really enjoyed this. Clever and crisp writing. God bless.
LauraLee Shaw08/13/08
Great title and your last line is perfect.
Dee Yoder 08/14/08
Lovely, well-written story! The characters are very natural and you sure did paint a true picture of reluctant widowhood.
Valerie Routhieaux08/14/08
I really enjoyed this. The pace was good and kept me reading to the end. We should all eliminate the f word from our vocabulary, because life isn't, but it's what we do with it that makes all the difference. Well done.
Sara Harricharan 08/14/08
***Congrats! Up to level 3 now, eh?*** ^_^
Helen Dowd08/14/08
I don't blame the lady for not wanting to go into a retirement home. I wouldn't either...And I wouldn't join in the games. I've been in retirement homes. They are wonderful...But I don't want to go there. No way!..Congratulations on your win...Helen
Amy Michelle Wiley 08/14/08
Cute story! Congrats on the placement. :-) I, too, am learning that it's what I do with what I'm given that matters.
Betsy Markman08/14/08
Congratulations! I really enjoyed this. The characters felt real and familiar, and I couldn't help caring about them.
Debra Martinez08/17/08
I loved the title and the piece. It had an easy flow that took me to all of the right places. Good job!
Sheri Gordon08/17/08
Congratulations on your 2nd place. Your dialogue is very natural. I love the title, and the lesson. Great job with the topic.
Karlene Jacobsen08/20/08
Great narrative. I like your reference to the "F-word" as well. It's great, and probably should be added to the list of profanities (my opinion)lol. Thanks for the reminder.

Congratulations on moving to Lvl 3. That's awesome!
Loren T. Lowery04/08/09
Excellent use of dialogue in telling a story with a good message. I liked the way you were able to flesh out the characters in so little words.