Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Postcards (08/29/05)
TITLE: Old Lady Kirby
By Shannon Redmon
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“It’s okay my dear.”
I bent down next to the old woman, fetching the postcards I had knocked out of her hands. The breeze carried smells of moth balls to my nose and caused her ripped skirt to dance around my feet. Blue eyes twinkled at me when she smiled.
“Thank you for helping me with my post cards. Most people would have left me to myself.” Her voice revealed loneliness.
“Well, that wouldn’t be very nice. After all, I bumped into you. I’m headed into the drugstore for a milkshake. Would you care to join me?”
“Oh, these hips can’t take milkshakes but I appreciate the offer. Your accent tells me you’re from the South?”
“North Carolina. I moved here a few months ago and bought a house on Prospect Street.”
“Well, we’re almost neighbors. I live in the two-story on the end.”
“Well, it is nice to meet ya, almost neighbor.”
She looked at her watch. “I must be going before I’m late.”
“Yeah, the post office will be closing soon.”
“Oh, I don’t want to mail these, dear. Have a good night!”
“You too!” I hollered, wondering why an old woman would keep so many post cards.
The door to the drugstore pushed another card to my feet as I entered.
“Oh no, we missed one.”
The name written across the Eiffel Tower spelled Betsy.
I flipped the card over.
“That’s strange. I figured there would be a message.”
The booth in the corner emptied and I slid into it. Jerry’s voice interrupted my thoughts and the fifties music playing overhead.
“I saw your spill out there with Old Lady Kirby.”
“Yeah, I made her drop her postcards. We missed one.” I laid the card on the table. “I guess I’ll run it by her house.”
Jerry shook his head. “Don’t know if you should do that.”
“Well, Old Lady Kirby is known to be a little crazy. Even spent some time in a mental hospital. She comes in every month asking me for old postcards. Nobody knows what she does with them. Some people think she sends them to her family.”
“Well, I think that sounds nice, keeping in touch with her family.”
He leaned down close and breathed on my cheek.
“Her family is dead. Murdered about seven years ago. They don’t know who did it but she went to the loony bin soon after. Never has been quite the same. So if I were you I would stay away from her place.”
I sat in disbelief. That sweet little woman? A murderer? Crazy? That just can’t be but Jerry had been here when it happened. Wouldn’t he know?
The afternoon sun had begun to sink as I drove past my house to the end of the street. The Kirby place needed a good makeover to say the least. It reminded me of a house from a haunted tale. Chipped paint clung to the walls while tattered curtains adorned the windows. My knocking pushed the door open with a creak.
The entry boasted a grand staircase that could have used dusting while pictures of ancestors hung on the walls. Pieces of faded wallpaper had been replaced with thousands of postcards, each with a name on it.
“Coming, dear. Oh my! It’s good to see you again.”
“Thank you. I found another post card.” I handed it to her and continued to stare at the different places and names represented.
“Why do you hang these on your walls?”
“You may have heard my family was killed several years ago. My heart needed healing and my friend, a psychologist, offered me a room at her house. It was located, outside a tourist town, and she ran a small store from an extra room. The post cards she ordered didn’t sell so she gave them to me. As I talked with God about my family, He told me to write down their names. I looked at the pile of post cards, picked out a great place for each one and began my healing. When I moved back here, the tradition continued for people God brought into my life. Come here, let me show you something.
We walked next to a window in the sitting room.
“I was praying for two new post cards when you came. Would you like to take a look?”
There I saw my name written across North Carolina. I smiled at the second card.
It read Jerry.
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