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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Uncles/Aunts (04/17/08)

TITLE: Going Places
By Betty Castleberry


Aunt Penny is a hoot. Seriously. She belongs to the Happy Organization of Octogenarian Teachers, or HOOT for short. The HOOTS are retired teachers who get together on Friday afternoons to play Scrabble. When it’s Aunt Penny’s turn to be hostess, she borrows my house because her condo is tiny.

So it was a Friday afternoon when I came home from work and found Aunt Penny in the sunroom with 3 HOOTS gathered around the game table. She is remarkably fit and trim for a lady of her age, and looked youthful in her shorts. A visor rested on her short, amber-streaked hair, the color of the week. I liked it better than the maroon shade she had sported the week before.

She greeted me with my childhood nickname, never looking up from her tray of letters. “Hi Muffin. Sorry we’re running late today.”

Her friends greeted me with their apologies as well.

I waved their excuses away. “No problem, ladies. Who’s winning?”

Aunt Penny lowered her glasses onto the bridge of her nose. “Not me.”

“Oh, sorry. I’m going to the kitchen. Take your time.”

I got a snack and went through the day’s mail. Shortly, Aunt Penny joined me in the kitchen. “Game’s over. I lost big time.”

“There’s always next Friday.”

“Or maybe not.”

“You’re not playing next week?”


“Why not?”

“Because we’re going to Vegas.”

I choked on my dill pickle. “What did you say?”

“I said we’re going to Vegas.”

This time I bounced my fingers in my ears, just to be sure I heard right. “Vegas?”

“Yes, Vegas. Are you going deaf?”

My dad’s only sister had lost her mind. She had never been anywhere except to the family reunion in Kansas, and once to Carlsbad Caverns when Uncle Stewart was alive. “But Aunt Penny, Las Vegas?”

Although my aunt was far from being senile or even a typical little old lady, I just could not picture her and her elderly friends in Las Vegas. What if they got lost? What if somebody took advantage of them, what if…?

Aunt Penny was almost shouting. “Are you daydreaming?”

“I guess I was. I’m worried about you. Do you think it’s really wise for you to go?”

“You mean you’re worried that I’ll spend your inheritance. I should have had kids.”

“You know that’s not true. I’m really concerned.”

“Why, because I’m old? That’s why I’m going. I want to see Wayne Newton before I die, and I want to eat at one of those fancy buffets. Ruthie’s son is driving all of us in his SUV. He’s attending a convention there next weekend. We’ll leave Thursday afternoon and be back Sunday night.”

At least they weren’t driving themselves. The world is just not ready for the HOOTS turned loose on the freeway. “So I can’t you talk out of going to Sin City?”

“No, and get over yourself, sweetheart. Don’t be so prudish.”

I knew when I was defeated. “Will you at least promise me you’ll be careful?”

Aunt Penny scrunched her lips up in tight little bow. “Certainly not. I intend to have some fun. I might even put a nickel in a slot machine. This could be my last hurrah, you know.”

Incredulous, I faced my aunt. She folded her arms across her chest in defiance. We locked eyes and glared at each other. I caved first. “You’re stubborn, just like Daddy.”

Her face softened. “You’re the one just like your Daddy, Muffin. When our parents died, he tried to take care of me, even though I was older. He introduced me to Stewart. He said Stewart would take good care of me. He did, and I loved him, but frankly sweetheart, your Uncle Stewart was boring. I want to live a little now. Stop worrying about me. I can take care of myself.”

“I know you can Aunt Penny. I just love you so much, I’m concerned.”

“I love you too, Muffin. If I get in trouble, I’ll call you, but you can’t tell your dad. Deal?”

I chuckled. “Deal.”

“Good. I’ve got to run.”

She plucked her car keys from her bag and pulled the visor down tighter on her head.

“What’s your hurry? I could make us dinner.”

“Thanks sweetheart, but I want to go buy some things for the trip. I’m still in fair shape. How do you think I would look in a bikini?”

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This article has been read 917 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Betsy Markman04/24/08
Wow, great fun. I could see it all very clearly. Aunt Penny came alive on the page.
Lynda Schultz 04/24/08
I wouldn't mind having this aunt in my family. She is literally a HOOT. (ouch!) Good work.
Laury Hubrich 04/25/08
How funny! I hope I'm like this when I'm older. Very fun story. Good job!
Dianne Janak04/25/08
It seems all the excentrics in the families are aunts! Great story.. I love the HOOTS... and hopefully one day can join the club... Great writing!
Jason Swiney04/25/08
Fun story. A little word order mix up in the following line: “So I can’t you talk out of going to Sin City?” Great, or gross, final line to your story (but definitely memorable).
Lenda Blackmon04/26/08
I loved it. Made me laugh so hard, I had an Aunt Penny and she was a lot of fun but definately not bikini material. lol You made my day.
Patty Wysong04/26/08
When I grow up I want to be like Aunt Penny! I could see her, so clearly, and her closing line was fantastic. Such a fun read!! :)
Joshua Janoski04/27/08
I think that your closing line summed up Aunt Penny's character very well.

I used to go to Las Vegas all the time to visit my great aunt, and there are all types there. I'm sure Aunt Penny would fit in just fine. She sounds like she can take care of herself. :)

Thank you for sharing this.
Jan Ackerson 04/28/08
Very funny, a superb example of characterization.

My only suggestion--very minor--would be a zippy title more in fitting with the aunt's wonderful personality.

This is a really strong entry.
Loren T. Lowery04/28/08
Most of all, I like Aunt Penny's spirit. Her vim and verve carried the story, and I sort of wanted to join them and their fun in Vegas!
Joanne Sher 04/28/08
Aunt Penny is TOO fun. Great descriptions and characterization, as always. Dialog is top-notch too.
Chely Roach04/28/08
I literally snarfed out loud when Muffin 'choked on her dill pickle'...I wasn't prepared for that line for some reason. Penny is a very well developed character for so few given words. Awesome job!
Sharlyn Guthrie04/28/08
I'd love to meet her! (I think I just did) Great title, and fun, fun, fun!
Willena Flewelling 04/28/08
Great read! I'm sure glad I'm not one of the judges...
Debbie Wistrom04/29/08
Loved the pace of this endearing piece and loved how she was going to live it up in her declingin years. WELL DONE.
Dee Yoder 04/29/08
Ah, this character is such a fun lady! Your descriptions had me picturing her "look" right down to her shoes. I love the dialogue, too. It flows very nicely and is such fun to read.
Marita Vandertogt04/30/08
She sounds like a fiesty lady and a fun person to be around. You breathed life into her with your descriptions. Nice job.
Sara Harricharan 04/30/08
Oh boy, is Aunt Penny going places! Lol! How delightful! I loved that you made her character with spunk and wit and especially the deal at the end should she run into trouble. lol. great job! ^_^
Joy Faire Stewart04/30/08
Great job developing the characters. I felt I knew them. Love the humor. Excellent writing!
Angela M. Baker-Bridge05/01/08
I've been accused of being crazy by my nieces more than once ... this was fun.
Joanney Uthe05/01/08
I love the acronym and the personality of the aunt. Great role reversal with the neice being the one who is concerned instead of the aunt. Great story.