HL Pic Series: 2-Mavis


Mavis sat alone in her rocking chair, wrapped in an old frayed shawl with a dirty afghan across her lap. She stared at the dusty television that no longer worked, and wondered if anyone would knock on her door today.

The postman used to knock everyday, handing her mail with a cheerful smile and a good word, but recently he had begun leaving the mail outside on the mat – not that she received mail every day. Some days she was too tired or sore to open the door, bend over and pick it up. Those were not good days for the mail, because something bad always happened to it. Rain would soak it through until the ink ran, or a bug would inevitably get squashed on it, or a neighbor’s dog or cat would leave footprints across the envelopes as they ran through her yard. Wet and dirty mail is not fun to open.

Today she longed for company. She was tired, but was on the lesser side of sore and thought she could make a pot of tea for a visiting friend. She thought it would be nice if her nephew, Tommy, would drop by and fix the television. He was handy with electronics, but she didn’t know if this tv could be fixed again. She had no money for a new one, either. She shook her head. Money, money, money. Everything costs too much nowadays.

The small stipend she worked all those years to put into social security was now barely enough to pay for her groceries each month. She was lucky Harold had paid off the house before he died, because she could not afford to live if she had a rent or a mortgage payment nowadays. She kept the heat low and only used the air conditioning in emergencies, had no cable and only a house phone without a long distance plan. She didn’t need one, as she had nobody left to call these days, and she needed to keep costs down.

A knock sounded at the door. She looked up, startled. She was lost in her thoughts again. Was that the door? She slowly got to her feet, holding the rocker steady and letting the aphgan fall to the floor. She stared at it for a moment and then shook her head. That must be how it gets so dirty. She stepped on it because she could take a long enough step to pass over it. Shaking her head again, she went to the door.

A dirty little girl stood outside, holding her mail.

“Here, Missus,” she said. “I saw your mail laying on your mat, so I thought I’d get it for you.” At the aged woman’s nod, the girl continued. “My name’s Emmy Gorth. I live over there.” She pointed at a house with a leaning porch and chipped paint diagonally across the street.

Mavis studied her for a moment and then shrugged her shoulders. “Hello there, young Emmy,” she said. “I’m Mavis Bell. Would you like to come in for a cup of tea?”

Emmy looked at her dress and then at Mavis with a lift of her eyebrow.

“Oh, that doesn’t matter. You’ll be sitting on a proper chair, so it won’t even show.”

Emmy looked across the street and then down at the mat, thinking.

“I guess I could. I’m not much of a fan of tea, though. Do you have any Koolaid?”

Mavis put a thumb under her chin for a moment and then shook her head, “I’m sorry, I don’t have any. Only tea.” She tilted her head sadly to the side as the smile slipped from her face.

“Um… okay. I’ll try tea, I guess,” said Emmy.

Mavis’ face lit up as the girl walked past, handing her the mail. Mavis dropped it on a side table and guided Emmy to a wooden table with two rickety wooden chairs. Emmy sat down rigidly and fanned the wrinkles out from her skirt. Mavis went to start the kettle.

“You are a very special guest today, so guess what?” Mavis asked with a smile.

“What?” replied Emmy with a sparkle in her eye.

“We are going to use my very best china service for our tea today.”

Emmy’s eyes grew wide and she watched every move Mavis made as she prepared the tea.

“I think I have some sugar cookies left here,” Mavis said, fishing around in an old coffee tin on the counter. She brought the tea and cookies to the table on a fancy silver tray.

“Now be careful, it’s hot. And here, put this honey in it,” Mavis said.

Emmy stirred the honey around the rose-covered tea cup in a gentle manner, suddenly sticking her pinky up. Mavis’ eyes sparkled as she smiled. Emmy picked up the cup, blew over the top and tentatively tasted the tea.

Her eyes flew up in surprise. “This is pretty good! It tastes like lemon!” She took a bite of cookie. “Mmmm…”

The two talked over the tea and cookies for a couple of hours. Mavis regaled the girl with stories from her youthful days until all of a sudden Emmy’s eyes grew wide and she popped up off the chair.

“I have to go! My mom will be home anytime now.”

“Oh, I’m sorry to see you go, Emmy, but I hope you come back to visit another day,” Mavis told her. Emmy nodded and waved and rushed out the door. Mavis smiled and cleaned up the dishes.

I believe I feel good enough to make a sandwich, she thought.








HL Pic Series: 1-Brigid


Brigid leaned her bicycle against the wall, hoping it wouldn’t fall again. She needed to make her flower delivery and did not want to lose the little bit of soil left in the baskets. Last week she hit a rock and fell off her bike, spilling flowers and soil onto the pavement in front of Cookie’s Bakery. At least twenty heads had turned to look at her, but she could do nothing except pick up her bike and put the flowers back into their arrangements as close as she could remember. Her face had burned, but she did not look in the window a second time. She had not ridden past the bakery since.

She looked down the street and blew hair from her eyes. She missed seeing Cord’s smile.

They’d been friends since 1st grade when Molly Buttercup had yanked the swing from her grip, sending her sprawling in the dirt. Cord came to her rescue, helping her up and dusting off her scratched knee. She lost her heart in that moment. Afterward, he was always friendly and funny to her, but treated her more like a little sister – someone who needed protecting.

She sighed. Maybe she should stop in to buy a cupcake. Summer vacation was almost over and she would rather face him now, than after school started back up. It was their last year and she really hoped he would ask her to the homecoming dance, but knew it would probably be Bella this time. He seemed to rotate through the five: Bella, Ciara, Olivia, Mona and Lyric. Who named their daughter Lyric, anyway?

She delivered the flowers to the cafe without incident and returned to her bike. She pedaled fast, trying not to think. She knew it would be easier to just do, and not think about doing. Thinking about a plan always seemed to stall her in her tracks and make her lose confidence. That’s why after all these years, she still just gawked at him sometimes. Leaning her bike against the wall on the side of the bakery, she steeled her face into a pleasant expression and stepped into the bakery, trying to be nonchalant.

Of course, she tripped over the door jamb and stumbled.

Cord’s warm hands gripped her shoulders. Her face burned, all nonchalance gone. There he was again, saving her.

She blurted, “Aw, hell!” Then looking up at Cord, her eyes grew huge and she slapped a hand over her mouth.

“Aw, now, Brige, it ain’t that bad,” he drawled. “You don’t need to cuss. You know I’ll always catch you.” He winked.

She didn’t think her face could have burned any brighter as her shoulders drooped. “I’m sorry, Cord. I know you don’t like that kind of language.” Her skin was beginning to tingle where his hands still lay. She looked up at him, through the heat in her face.

He pulled her close for a quick hug and then released her just as quickly. “Um, Brigid?” He shuffled a foot and studied a spot on his shirt.

“Yeah?” She watched him scratch at the bit of flour.

“Um… School’s starting soon, and I was wondering if maybe you’d want to be my date to the homecoming dance this year.”

She blanked. When she didn’t answer, he looked up and into her eyes. The startling green snapped her from her reverie.

“Yes, I would.” She smiled big as a surge of confidence came over her. He smiled shyly back at her. “Geez,” she said, lightly punching his shoulder, “What took you so long to ask?”

His grin grew as big as hers. “I’ve been waiting for senior year. I didn’t want to screw up our friendship, but I think we can handle it now. Can I get you a cupcake?” He winked again.