“What’s that you say about my story, Marge?”
“It’s got beat, dear. Listen girls. ‘Mabel’s madcap march across the Mojave caused a mascara meltdown.’”
“It does have kind of a ring to it, don’t it?”
“I do declare. Edna’s got that i-lliteration thing down. Don’t ya think?” Agnes chimed in, nodding her assent.
“Well, I don’t know, friends. I’m tryin’ my best. This writing stuff is tough. You think Pastor’s gonna let us keep meetin’ here every Monday night?”
Mary Beth looked up from her steamin’ cup of joe, splashed with a hint of vanilla creamer. So prim, the other girls in the group sometimes thought her bun was twisted a bit too tight. “Really girls, don’t you think what this critique group really needs is a teacher? For goodness sakes. We all need to brush up on those liberal terms.”
Marge grinned like the Cheshire cat. Her green eyes, mischievous, twinkling across the room. “Why Mary Beth Williams, do you want the job?”
“Don’t be silly. I don’t know much about writin’.”
“Good grief, y’all.
“Why, Agnes. Did you know you just used an oxymoron?” Marge looked up from her laptop, beaming. After all, she had been the one assigned to peruse the literary terms defined in Wikipedia.
Agnes’ face reddened. “I’m a what?”
“An oxymoron. I mean . . . no, that’s not what I meant.”
Agnes reached for the conference phone in the middle of the table. “Pastor’s gonna hear about this, Marge.”
“Wait dear. Lemme explain. You said ‘good grief.’ It says right here an oxymoron is putting two contradictory words together like ‘new classic’ or ‘living dead’ or ‘clearly misunderstood.’ Marge giggled. “Guess that’s me, huh? Clearly misunderstood.”
The girls shared a light moment, all chuckling with fervor.
“Ah, that was great dears, but we really need to focus on our critiques. Don’t ya think?”
Everyone nodded in agreement. “I think it’s your turn, Edna. We haven’t heard from you yet. Did ya get a chance to read everyone’s papers?”
Edna nodded, bent over looking at the pile of papers on her lap. A wisp of gray covered her left eye. “Well, I just don’t know . . .”
“You can do it dear. Just give us your thoughts on one of the stories you read. Okay?” Marge peered anxiously over her laptop screen much like a prairie dog poking up from the safety of its hole.
Edna’s deep brown eyes overshadowed her pale, sculptured face. “I guess I’ll start with my favorite. It’s Mary Beth’s.”
Mary Beth puffed up—her bun shifting ever so slightly. “Hmmph.”
“I especially liked that part when you wrote about your heroine floating up to the sky to avoid being eaten by a tiger. It was exciting, but I just couldn’t understand how that could really happen.”
“Well, I thought creative writing was what we’re all about here. Aren’t we supposed to have some imagination?”
“Sure, but still that just couldn’t happen, could it dear?” Marge smiled. “Oh, I think I found it. It’s some I-talian phrase or somethin’. Dues ex Machine . . . makin’ god out of a machine it says. Hmmm . . . .”
Mary Beth’s eyes flashed. “Oh for goodness sake Marge. Turn that thing off. Do we really need to know all them liberal terms? I mean really.”
“Oh, quit your pit nickin’, Mary Beth. I’m just favin’ some hun.”
Agnes and Edna watched the banter, exchanging amused looks.
“Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself. I’m readin’ here about somethin’ called Spoonerisms named after a Reverend William Archibald Spooner from Oxford, England. Seems he was always mixin’ up his words. We could have a fot of lun with this one.”
“I don’t know, Marge. I don’t think I could keep up.” Edna’s sad eyes drooped.
“Oh, pish posh. Of course you could, dear one.”
Agnes checked her watch. “I hate to be the one to break up all this fun, but it’s nine o’clock—time for us to call it a night.”
“You can’t mean it? And just when we were startin’ to have some fun.” Marge pouted. Mary Beth rolled her eyes.
“Well, I guess that’s it until next week. Let’s pick up where we left off, okay?”
Agnes moved around the table to help Edna with her wheelchair. Marge packed up her laptop and Mary Beth fluffed her hair while stacking papers together.
Lookin’ right at Mary Beth, Marge snickered. “Eye ball.”
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