mary

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

At 70 years old, Mary attempts to change.

Mary
 
Mary Ryan is one of those women who suffers from an excess of niceness. She hates to disappoint anyone. All her life she’d done things to please other people, to the extent she hadn’t really been her own person. But on her 70th birthday she decided all that was going to change. She was going to be more honest, let her own personality come through, do the things she wanted.
It didn’t take long for the new Mary to be tested. She was at a quilt show with one of her neighbours, Collette. Mary wasn’t all that interested in quilting, but Collette had asked her for a ride there as her car was in for repairs. The show was sponsored by a coach tours company, who had donated a ticket for two on a new trip they were trying out - a tour round quilt shows in Nova Scotia. Mary’s troubles began when Collette won the prize, and feeling anything else would have been awkward, she invited Mary to go along with her. In the heat of the moment, and because she had never learned to how say no gracefully, Mary accepted, but she started to regret her decision almost right away. The thought of spending a week pretending to be enthusiastic about quilts filled her with dread.  In the following days she spent many hours trying to think up ways to tell Collette that she wasn’t going, without hurting her feelings. Which is why, on one of her daily walks round the crescent in the retirement community where she lived, she was so deep in thought she didn’t see Betty Mitchell in her garden deadheading her petunias, and walked right past her without a word.
Betty is one of those women who suffers from an excess of sensitivity. She can take offence at the merest perceived slight - a glance, a tone of voice, a wrong word. Having been ignored by Mary, she gathered up her indignation and stomped into the house. As soon as she came in her husband Bob recognised the symptoms. She was in a snit and it would take her all afternoon to get out of it. He was playing games on his laptop but had a genuine excuse to get out of the house. (When it comes to his wife Bob is one of those men who suffers from an excess of wimpiness).
“I’ve got to go help Fred put new steps on his deck.”
“Mary Ryan just went by and completely ignored me.”
“She probably didn’t see you. I shouldn’t be too long. With any luckFred’s nearly finished by now.”
Bob threw on his work shoes and hustled out the door. He hadn’t meant to go over to Fred’s so soon. Fred prided himself on being a handyman, but the thing he was best at was getting other people to do things for him. Bob decided to take the long way round. At the end of the crescent he noticed Sheila Jenkins by her car changing a tire. A perfect excuse for being late going to Fred’s presented itself. Bob dashed over to the car.
“Here, let me do that,” he said, nearly pushing Sheila out of the way.
Sheila is a woman who suffers from an excess of independence. She considers asking anyone for help a sign of weakness. She had been changing her own tires for the last forty years. Now here she was having to stand  like a helpless female and watch a man fumble around because he presumably thought he was better at it than her. On top of that, she would have to pretend to be grateful. By the time Bob was done, Sheila was in such a state she jumped into the car and drove down to the tire store, completely forgetting she was supposed to be having coffee with Collette - that very Collette who was causing Mary such grief.
Collette, thankfully, didn’t suffer much from any excesses. So she didn’t take offence when Sheila called from the tire store to say she wouldn’t be coming that afternoon. But she was a bit fussy when it came to entertaining, and had spent the morning cleaning and baking. She’d made one of her famous upside-down cakes. Not wanting to waste all that effort, she went over to a neighbour who had just moved in that week, and invited her for coffee. The neighbour, Cathy, turned out to be a delightful woman. She had lots in common with Collette, including a keen interest in quilting. She thought the trip to Nova Scotia sounded great. Collette began to regret inviting Mary. She spent the night trying to think of ways to get out of taking her along without hurting her feelings.
By the next morning Collette had convinced herself that Mary wasn’t at all interested in quilts and had only said she would go on the trip because she was too nice to admit it. By lunchtime she had a plan of action. She would say it occurred to her that not everyone was as keen on quilting as she was, and a week spent looking at them might not be their idea of a good time. If Mary felt that way and wanted to back out, she would understand.
Full of resolve, and with the best of intentions, Collette intercepted Mary on her afternoon walk and suggested they go to the coffee shop. 
Mary had a plan in mind as well. She had decided to be honest about the situation, admit she wasn’t very keen on quilting, and suggest if Collette knew anybody who would enjoy the trip more she would be happy to back out. She was still kicking herself for not saying that in the first place, because now she had to explain it to Collette without making herself look ridiculous. She jumped at the chance to have coffee with her. 
Full of resolve and with the best of intentions, Mary sat down opposite Collette. The two women were poised for a meeting of the minds.
For the briefest moment they just sat and looked into each others eyes. Collette opened her mouth. The words came out by themselves:
“So. Getting excited about our trip yet?”
“Sure am. You too?”
 


Submitted: February 13, 2021

© Copyright 2021 gillian scott. All rights reserved.

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