Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Great Expectations (not about the book) (08/25/11)
TITLE: Half a Century
By Yvonne Blake
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I certainly don't look twenty-five anymore. Plastering my face with moisturizer every night hasn't work. If those are laugh lines, I'd like to remember what was so funny. The designs on my legs go well with my purple dress and red hat. I have a double-double chin, and the skin under my arms wobbles like a hammock on a sailing boat.
I don't feel twenty-five, either. My doctor said my body would change once I turned forty, and he wasn't kidding. Right away, I noticed aches in my back and in my knees. Don't tell anyone, but I've finally succumbed to bifocals--the kind with the hidden lines so no one can tell, except when I tip my head up and down to read the church bulletin board.
The house looks lonely as I pull into the driveway. At least, there are no balloons fluttering on the mailbox. I told Ricky that I don't want to celebrate this birthday. I don't need to be reminded that I'm an old lady now. I don't want a party--no gifts, no cake, no nothing! I just want to glide past turning fifty. Didi waves to me from her flower garden next door.
Of course, Didi knows how old I am. She's known me since first grade. Her birthday is a month before mine, and she claims the honor of being older and smarter than I am. Didi announces her age to the mailman or anyone else who will listen. "I've been blessed with fifty wonderful years!" Didi says that this is our jubilee year--a year of change and celebration.
Maybe Didi has a point. Maybe I shouldn't hide from turning fifty...but I'm not celebrating it this year. It would be kind of nice to have all the family over to remember old times, but the kids are busy with their jobs and schooling. They probably don't remember it's my birthday anyway.
I unlock the door and click on the lights. Sigh...the house seems extra quiet tonight. Ricky left a note saying he had extra work, so he'll be home late. I hope he has, at least, left a card on the kitchen table or some flowers. Nothing. It's not his fault. I told him not to give me anything, but you'd think he'd ignore my words and acknowledge the day to show that he cares how I feel.
"Hi, Didi.... Sure! I'd love to come over for a bit. Thanks!"
I knew it! Ricky didn't listen to me, after all. I'll bet there's a bunch of my friends just waiting for me at Didi's house. I better change into some fresh clothes and comb my hair. I want to look nice when they snap all those pictures. I should use the bathroom, too. I just may wet myself when they jump out and yell, "Surprise!"
Hmmm...There aren't any extra cars along the sidewalk. They must have parked them somewhere else. I lick my lips and brush a gray hair from my shirt before pushing the doorbell. I can't hear any giggles or shushes or anything but footsteps.
"Hi, Didi. Thanks for inviting me over." I peek over her shoulder and around the room. "Yes, it is rather lonely eating by myself, especially today." I peer down the hallway, still no one jumps out. Didi and I eat dinner and giggle over old memories. After an hour or so, I decide, since nothing is happening, I may as well go home. Didi hands me a card.
"Thanks, Didi. I know I said I didn't want to celebrate this year, but I'm having second thoughts."
She urges me to open it and stands there grinning like a not-so-innocent best friend. On the front of the card, there is a cross-stitched house. As I open it, a black and white photo slips out. I turn it this way and that; I tip my head up and down, but I can't make heads nor tails of it. The card says,
Home's the Best
Happy Birthday, Grammy
Grammy? What! I look at the photo again. Is that a head?
Didi hugs me tight and urges me to go home.
"There are more surprises? You know, Didi, I'm loving this jubilee year already!"
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