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THREE PLACES AT ONCE
Or Be Careful What You Wish For
By Julie Elizabeth Mignard
The soft ruffle of silk lay gleaming across Bettylou’s wrinkled palm. It was three things at once. “If only I could be three things at once,” she was thinking. It was a lovely lavender blue, periwinkle maybe, and wherever the soft gathers bent it, it shimmered a brilliant turquoise, the color of a peacock’s breast, yet it was totally transparent.
“This is the material for the bridesmaids’ dresses, Gramma, I hope you haven’t bought your dress yet, because it needs to be able to match this for the pictures.” And on and on the self-absorbed letter went. How could Claudia possibly have chosen October 12 for her wedding? The exact date of the annual NNN Gala.
“My last year as President, this just could not be happening!” And now this phone call about Daddy, they need me to empty his apartment before the first of November. The apartment he moved into seventy-five years ago in Manhattan, her childhood home. Claudia’s wedding on Maui. My LIFE in Mexico. This just cannot be happening. “I wish I could just be here and in Maui and in NYC in October!”
“Here I spend months at a time never hearing from anybody, missing my granddaughter, not hearing boo from Daddy. I have to work at being with people around here. That’s why I joined the NNN in the first place, without commitments it was just too easy to sit around alone and read books, pet the cats, TV and all that.
I’d forget I was in Mexico, not see anyone but the gardener for days at a time, and now, NOW – why for God’s sake can’t these things spread out over the year? A nice June wedding, selling the apartment in January?
Oh no. I get my moment to shine, this year the NNN was going to be bowled over by my brilliance. I was never going to have to call people and try to arrange a lunch again. They were going to be calling ME! Now what? Either my Granddaughter is going to hate me or my Daddy is going to have everything put out on the street by strangers, or I am back to square one in the social life of just one more single woman in the community. Three places, I need to be three places at once.”
Shoving the phone aside, Bettylou turned back to her wine. It was just out of reach on the opposite corner of the table. Starting to heft her ample padding, Bettylou stretched across the wide glass tabletop reaching for her favorite wine glass. She startled violently as the forgotten silk fluttering down slid into her view. The top-heavy wine glass went crashing to the floor. Bettylou’s center of gravity reached the point of no return, her considerable mass smashing her face first into the broken glass and spilled wine immediately followed by a huge crash as gravity and floor tiles combined to bounce the custom-made table into flying swords of lethal glittering glass shards.
Two days later the maid had a nasty surprise.
And so, Bettylou got her wish. On October 12, her friends at the NNN all agreed that it was the best Gala ever as they sprinkled one third of Bettylou’s ashes into the sea. Her Granddaughter honored her at the wedding by adorning her urn with the beautiful silk and her favorite flowers and tearfully toasted her as the best Grandma anyone ever had. The last one third of her ashes in a brown cardboard box got put out on the street in Manhattan by strangers, along with everything else from seventy-five years of her forgotten life.