These short vignettes focus on other characters we meet in Bellingwood. While I write them during the same time I’m writing a book, they won’t spoil any of the story. And much as I hate to say it, they won’t give you any hints, either (bad author).
Vignettes are published in each of the newsletters which arrive on the 25th of every month, but sometimes the characters insist that I tell a quick story about them.
Book 16 will be published on December 25th. The story is flying along. There’s always something going on in town.
Don’t forget – Friday is our second November Creativity Friday. It’s all about the holiday season! What are you coming up with?
And Sunday is a big Bookbub push. The Boxed Set: Books 1-3 will be free. It’s a great time to invite your friends to meet you in Bellingwood.
Oh … and cat pictures. Because we need more of those to make us smile. Right? Right.
You Gotta Have Friends
Lucy Parker turned back from the cash register and waved at Joe in the kitchen, acknowledging his call.
She smiled as Dave & Nelly Munson left the diner; Nelly walking slowly enough for Dave to keep up with her. He would never use the walker he should, and insisted on accompanying his wife whenever he could.
They had to be in their early nineties. Lucy had been serving them for years. Every Monday, promptly at eleven thirty, they came into the diner. Every Monday, Nelly ordered a Cobb salad and Dave ordered a plain hamburger with cottage cheese. The two rarely spoke during their meal, but Lucy loved watching them together. Seemingly out of nowhere, Dave would extend his hand across the table so Nelly would hold it. They’d smile at each other for a few moments and then go back to their meal.
One day Lucy saw Nelly kick her husband underneath the table and say his name as if scolding him. They hadn’t been speaking out loud, but when Dave gave his wife a sheepish grin, Lucy knew she’d missed something.
Nelly stood on the curb outside while her husband made his way into the passenger seat. Once he was settled inside the car, she went around to the driver’s side.
They were off to the library next. The new librarian had made it easy for older folks to get their books. Those old steps up to the front door were difficult to navigate and the elevator in the back of the building always seemed to be on the fritz. But the new gal was gracious about bringing books outside. People talked about how well she knew her customers. She was always ready with a new recommendation. Lucy glanced across the street to the pharmacy. She should remember their names. Nate. Yes, that was it. Nate and Joss.
She turned to the kitchen and pulled plates off the counter, stacking them on her forearm. When Lucy saw people face to face, she had no problem with their names, but once they were out of sight, names left her mind. Greg had always remembered names for her. She missed going out with him. And if she missed it, she could only imagine how he felt about being trapped in the house all the time. But her husband never complained. He was the most easy going man she’d ever met and made the choice every day to be happy no matter the circumstances. She loved him so much.
Lucy stopped in front of another table filled with regulars. “Here you are, Mary.” Lucy set the plate down in front of the woman and handed the rest of the dishes to each of the six women. Every month on the second Monday this group of retired teachers came in for lunch after spending the morning shopping together. They’d been so excited when Sweet Beans opened, allowing them to start their day earlier and with coffee. They believed in supporting all of the shops in town and hit as many as they could each month, shopping and having fun with each other.
After lunch, their next stop was the nursing home where they would play cards and games with the residents there all afternoon. They laughed about how someday that would be them and they hoped someone would do the same thing for them. Lucy thought these women were terrific and she hoped they were right, that someone would do the same thing for them and maybe even for her.
“Can I get you anything else?” Lucy asked.
Della Stimson tapped her plate. “A cup of ranch dressing for the fries? It’s my newest obsession.”
Lucy chuckled. “Okay. Anything else?”
“When you come back,” Mindy Recap said, “Bring another coke. I’ll have this finished in just a second. No need for another trip, right?”
Lucy nodded and walked away. She stopped and pulled a chair away from a table. A young woman and her daughter in a wheel chair were coming in the front door. “How’s this?” Lucy asked them.
The woman nodded and smiled. “Perfect. Thank you.”
“I’ll be right back with menus,” Lucy said. “Do you know what you’d like to drink?”
“I’ll have coffee,” the woman said. “Janna?”
“Can I have a pop, Mom?”
The woman nodded indulgently. “No caffeine, though.”
“Seven-up,” the girl said.
Lucy gave them a smile and headed for the counter. “Cup of ranch, Joe,” she said as she poured out the drinks and gathered up menus.
Her first stop was at the table with the girl and her mother. “Here you are. I’ll be back in a few moments.”
After dropping the ranch dressing and cola with the women, Lucy checked on the table next to them. Three young men had come in for lunch from their work site at the new apartments south of town. She’d already delivered their ticket and saw that three credit cards were resting on top of it. “Are you ready for me to take this?” she asked.
“Yes, ma’am,” one of them said.
Lucy picked it up and silently cringed. She hated being called ma’am. It felt like she aged forty-five years in just a second and all of a sudden had turned into their teacher. She shook her head and ran the cards, then returned the ticket and cards to the table. “Thanks boys,” she said with a grin. If they were going to call her ma’am, they’d be boys. Oh, who was she kidding. They were young enough to have been her sons. Lucy remembered when most of the people that came into the diner were older than her.
A few of those moments in her life had alerted Lucy to the aging process. First it had been some of the pop singers. All of those years that they’d been older than her passed pretty quickly. Greg cringed when the major league pitchers were suddenly younger than he was. Then all of a sudden, the pastor of her church was younger. That one nearly killed her. All of her life, that person had been an older authority figure. Next thing they’d do to her would bring in some twenty-year old girl who would be fabulous in the pulpit and a whiz at managing the church. Hah. That would go over well with people in the church. But when that girl arrived in town, Lucy would do her best to support her. But it would certainly shake things up around here.
Lucy looked down at the girl in the wheel chair. She’d gotten lost in her thoughts. Rats. “I’m sorry, what?”
“Can I get onion rings instead of french fries with the cheeseburger?”
Lucy nodded. “Of course you can.”
“How about we split fries and onion rings,” the girl’s mother said.
“I haven’t seen you two in here yet,” Lucy said. “First time in town?”
“We moved into Bellingwood this summer,” the woman said.
“Oh,” Lucy put her hand on the girl’s chair. “What grade are you in?”
“Eighth. I got out of school today. Mom and I had to go see a doctor.”
The woman sighed. “Always another doctor’s appointment.”
“Mom,” the girl said. “It’s okay.”
“I know, Janna.” She smiled up at Lucy. “She’s always happy. No matter what she has to go through.”
Lucy nodded. “I understand. My husband is the same. No matter what he has to deal with, he’s okay with it.”
Janna rolled her eyes. “You’re being dramatic, Mom.” She tapped her mother’s hand. “You’re the one who taught me, you know. Never give up, you can do anything you want, Janna. Try it again, Janna.” The girl laughed. “Mom and Dad always tell me that I can do anything. So a few doctor’s appointments are no big deal. Right?”
“Right,” Lucy said. “You said you’re in eighth grade? Do you know Rebecca Heater or Andrew Donovan or Kayla Armstrong?”
The girl nodded wildly. “Yes. They’re in my grade. Do you know them?”
“Pretty well. I know their moms better, though.” Lucy looked up at two more groups coming in the front door. “I should get your order in. I’m glad you’re in town. I hope you come in and see me more often.”
She slapped the order ticket on Joe’s counter. “Order in,” she said. “Extra rings on me, okay?”
Joe grinned at her. “Got it. Playing with your friends today?”
“Every day,” Lucy replied. “Making some new friends, too.”
“You always do.” He snapped the ticket into a clip. “You always do.”