I am excited that Nothing Any Good can utilized as a platform, not only for assisting writers throughout the writing process and promoting their works, but also as a platform to explore new works from up-and-coming authors. Despite what some might think, I don’t believe writing should always be done in a vacuum. Having a community with whom to share essays, short stories, and musings is a valuable commodity for writers. I’m pleased to bring you our second short story by Jesse Dee’s beloved mother, Marjorie Owen.
Happily Ever After
by Marjorie Owen
“And so they were married and lived happily ever after.”
The little girl gave a sigh of blissful contentment, although she must have heard the story at least a dozen times before. Then, with the eternal optimism of children she begged, “Read me one more, granny. Just one.”
Laura Clayton closed the book firmly and stood up. “No more tonight, darling. Time you were asleep. Snuggle down now, and I’ll tuck you in.” This done, she kissed her granddaughter and went to the door, turning to look fondly at the child whose eyes were already closed. She’d soon be dead to the world, Laura thought.
She hurried along to the bathroom. Extraordinary, what a mess one small person’s bath time could make. She could imagine, all too well, the familiar icy look of tight-lipped disapproval on her daughter-in-law’s face if she saw the havoc there; she could hear the impatience, “Oh, leave it to me, mother!”
This always reduced her to a fumbling, inefficient idiot, of about the same age as her own granddaughter. Tidying away the little garments, putting the soggy towels in the linen basket, cleaning the bath, mopping down the walls, and trying to dry the worst bits of the carpet, her thoughts were scurrying around for the umpteenth time. Why, oh why, had she ever been so foolish as to agree to make her home with Roy and his wife? Working furiously away, she smiled wryly and muttered half aloud, “Money, my girl! That’s the beginning and end of that one. What else?”
When her husband died so suddenly, leaving his affairs in such a muddle, and it dawned on everybody there was absolutely nothing left, what alternative was there but to accept her son’s invitation to make her home with him? A woman in her forties with no skills, no training, and no experience. There seemed no other way out. That was two months ago and how bitterly she regretted it. It would have been better to have gone into one room, tried to get some sort of unskilled job, perhaps as a charwoman. They earned enough, God knew! Some cleaner I’d have made, she thought ruefully, regarding her inexpert attempts to get the bathroom cleaned up.
The trouble was she hadn’t known her son’s wife very well beforehand. The two families lived hundreds of miles apart and on their infrequent meetings; everyone was on his or her best behaviour. Laura had decided from the day of Roy’s wedding, she’d never become an interfering mother-in-law and the best way to achieve that was to keep a respectable distance between them. She despised those mothers of only sons who refused to cut the links.
For a few days after her arrival in their home, everything had been sweetness and light. They’d given her a very nice room, there were flowers to welcome her, and Roy seemed genuinely pleased to have his mother under his roof. Her daughter-in-law, Nancy, although not effusive in her greeting, had spoken kindly enough and said she hoped Laura would be comfortable. Then came the night of the dinner party, ostensibly held for her as an introduction to their friends and Roy’s business colleagues. Laura was quite looking forward to a little gaiety; dressed and made herself up very carefully so that she should be a credit to her son and his wife.
Copyright 2012: Michael James Owen
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This delightful excerpt was shared with me by Jesse Dee, who found this story (and over fifty others) in a box after her mother had passed away. Jesse Dee chose a select few to share with the world. You can find the short story on Smashwords and follow Jesse Dee at her blog.
Here’s the tale of her mother and how Jesse Dee happened upon the stories.
Marjorie Grace Patricia Bridget Owen was born on September 11th 1911 in England and endured the bombardment of World War II. She was born out-of-wedlock with an Irish Lord for a father and a Russian princess as her mother. Although her life before working is somewhat sketchy, her career, as a major London department store clothing buyer, was long and interesting. Members of the Royal family were amongst some of her more famous clients. Marjorie found time to write many short stories and four novels ranging from romance to mystery. She did not attempt to publish any of her writings. We can only surmise that she wrote for the joy and did not wish to seek out any recognition or fame.
Marjorie passed away on March 28th 2004, after a very full life, at the age of ninety-three.
Mum had told Mike that she had written a couple of stories and let him read them some years ago. She expressed no interest in having them published at that time. He was never aware of the amount that she had written until she passed away. Mike, being an only child and having no Aunts or Uncles, is the sole heir to Marjorie’s estate. He discovered the box full of Mum’s writings on clearing her flat in England and took them back to the USA.
As an avid reader Dee (daughter-in-law) became fascinated with Mum’s stories and books. All her writings were hand written on legal size paper or note books and on both sides of the paper. Dee began reading some of the short stories (there are fifty plus). After reading a few, she was hooked and decided to attempt, the monumental task of transcribing them to computer. Mum’s writing was not the easiest to read, however, Dee had set herself the challenge and was going to follow through. At first, her husband, Mike assisted her with the ‘translation’ of Mum’s hand writing. At times they became frustrated with each other and Mum. After a couple of stories, Dee became the expert, reading Mum’s writing and even improving her own typing skills and speed. As yet, Dee has not completed the task, with a few more stories to go and two novels, after several years of work.