Collecting Detail

First Scene –  a person seen:  An old, lady leaning heavily on a walking frame. She was beautifully dressed in white; white trousers, white cheesecloth flowing top with gold flowers made from the same material. She wore a simple white pearl necklace. She had an unlined face and her lips were painted red. Her white hair and the stoop of her body belied the youth of her face.

Second scene was overheard: “You have no idea what that meant to me. Maybe I was just vulnerable but I was so touched. Some people can give you the earth but it is little things like that, that really mean so much to you.”

Third scene – a place seen: Stepping back in time as you peer into the dark interior you see the red plush velvet drapes hanging around the windows, tied back with gold braid. Lace curtains hang behind them. Wall lamps which simulate candles of a bygone age give the small amount of lighting.  The tables, set for high tea with Royal Albert china, crimson, floral cups and saucers trimmed with gold leaf matched the bread and butter plates. Lace table cloths which shroud the cedar tables and the cutlery, silver spoon and fork come from the Victorian era. The woman serving looks old-fashioned although the retro crimson and white floral is most-likely off the rack as the style is again fashionable. The dress, in this setting, takes on the era in which we find ourselves.

The story using the above observations.

The old lady’s face lights up as she sees in the gloom of the interior the woman she had come to meet. Leaning heavily on her blue, paint chipped walking frame she slowly makes her way to the table at which her friend is sitting.

After kissing hallo she lowers herself into her seat around the cedar table.

“Isn’t this lovely, Cathy?” Her hand gestures around at the Royal Albert china, crimson, floral cups and saucers trimmed with gold leaf and matching bread and butter plates. “It takes me back to the days we used to have afternoon tea,”

“Yes. They have really captured the atmosphere with the red plush velvet drapes and the wall lamps look like candles.”

Another two women walked in and joined them.  They were all younger than the old woman yet they chatted easily together. The food was served, three course in all starting with cucumber sandwich fingers and small savoury hot pastries served on a two tier Royal Albert serving plate. The old lady dropped a piece of the chicken Quiche on her beautiful white trousers but she remained unperturbed. One of the newcomers, Jane, hardly ate anything thing yet when the next course came she devoured the four different flavoured mini cupcakes quickly.

Jane rose. “I just have to go and get some money. The sign says cash only.”

“I’ve got money you can have a lend of.” all the others said.

“No I’m going to get some. I hate owing money. I might forget.”

“There’s dessert to come” said the proprietor who looked as old-fashioned as the shop dressed in her retro crimson and white floral dress.

“I’ll be back. Just getting some money so I can pay you.”

As soon as Jane had left Cathy said to the old woman “I’m paying for you Pat.”

“That’s nice of you but why? There’s no need.”

“I want to. You have no idea how much it meant to me receiving your card Pat. And the trouble you went to finding a card with a picture of Paris, my favourite place in the world.”

“Cathy, it was nothing.”

“You have no idea what it meant to me. Maybe I was just vulnerable but I was so touched. Some people can give you the earth but it is little things like that, that really mean so much to you.  Those weeks in intensive care I didn’t think I’d get out.  That card was a bright happening at a time when every thing was frightening and overwhelming. I was so touched that you went to that kind of effort. I want to pay for you.”

“Thank you.”

Dessert was served on Jane’s return. A delicious pink flummery with crumbled meringue on the top. “This is delicious” Cathy said to the proprietor. “I’ll definitely be back.” The other ladies nodded in agreement.

About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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11 Responses to Collecting Detail

  1. Sherri says:

    Beautiful message Irene in this wonderfully descriptive piece. It truly is the most simple things like finding a card that has a special, personal meaning to the recipient that means so very much in this rushed, mad world. To know that we are thought of in this way means the world. Thank you.


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