Short Story Sunday: Magnolia

Nobody takes notice of frumpy middle-aged women walking old dogs. Magnolia walked down the path through the trees. She thought of the Hawthorne story Young Goodman Brown imagining when he walked down the path to find his innocent young wife dancing with the Devil. That was an odd thought for an Easter morning.

It had been years since she’d been to church. She hated to be a holiday Christian. She hated going to church, always had. Yet, she loved the old music and certain songs.

Christ has risen.

He has risen indeed.

Someone called her name. She turned around to find her neighbors. They were on their way down to the lake for a sunrise service.

“Come with us,” they said.

She hesitated then decided to join them. Down at the edge of the water they sang traditional hymns she’d known as a child. It was a gathering of joy and love with words of hope. Old people, youngsters, babies and dogs were all there. Even the geese and ducks had come to the gathering by the edge of the lake.

After saying goodbye to a few friends and neighbors she made her way back up the trail towards home. All the dusty file drawers in her mind opened up letting the memories and thoughts flow. She thought of the Easter dresses her mother would sew when she was small. She wondered why people were so fascinated with the sexist patriarchy Duggar family and the freakish sleazy Kardashians. The idea of all of them disgusted her. She thought about how she should have gone to a different college.

She wondered if anything she’d ever done had mattered. What she was doing now mattered, sort of, at least to her kids, but she wondered about the past. Did any of her old boyfriends ever think of her? Could she have ever been the CEO of a creative empire? Could she have won an Oscar? What if she’d gone to Nepal with Mac Andrews or moved to Santa Barbara with Bill Van Pelt? Why had she come back to her parents after she’d backpacked alone across England? Would the kids like a raspberry coffee cake or blueberry muffins today? She’d send the extras home with her brother because she didn’t want them around the house to tempt her later. He said he was going to bring a green salad but she was afraid he’d bring potato salad. At least they’d have wine.

She wondered if life would have been different if she’d had a different name. She was always Magnolia, never Maggie or Nola.

Stopping at the top of the bluff she looked across the lake to the next town over. She was invisible. Women like her always were. A short, overweight, frumpy woman of no consequence. People were always telling her “if I had your talent I’d rule the world” or do something wonderful. That was if THEY had her talent. Her passion had been beaten out of her. She was always up for more rejection and in turn, more discovery, but… maybe she’d take a Zumba class at the gym. Zumba sounded like a lot of fun and if she took it easy she wouldn’t hurt her knee again.

At the end of the trail she saw a man. She smiled. What if he really was a Vampire and offered to take her away, or at least offered her a new life. Would she take it? No, it would be too much work. What if the woods were haunted? Did ghosts of Victorian lovers and Jazz singers dance through the night together. She passed the man, a young man in his 20’s with a large brown dog of unknown breed. Her large white dog of unknown breed sniffed it, everyone exchanged greetings and went on their way.

At home her family was just getting up. The kids gave her sleepy kisses. Her husband had started coffee and was making smoothies for the kids. So much for coffee cake but smoothies were always a good thing. He always put too much honey in them but she never said anything to him about it.

“Did you have a good walk?” Her husband gave her a hug as he asked her.

“It was nice. A lot of birds were out.” She didn’t say anything else. Magnolia was so used to not being heard that it was easier just to be the invisible woman.

Pouring a cup of coffee and went out on her deck. Her husband came out and said, “you’re quiet. What are you thinking about?”

“Nothing really. Nothing that matters.”

 

~end~

 

 

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