Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Spare Change by Bette Lee Crosby

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The following Friday Charlie slipped a diamond ring on Olivia’s finger, and much to everyone’s surprise it stayed there. And as if that weren’t enough of a shocker, Olivia then announced she was going to give up her job of thirty years and move to Wyattsville. “I’ve heard tell it’s a wonderful community,” she told her friends, “and Charlie has an apartment on the seventh floor of a building that does not allow children.”

The announcement generated an endless amount of gossip among Olivia’s friends and co-workers. The girls in the typing pool suggested he might be after her money or, worse yet, be planning to take out a sizeable insurance policy then do her in. “What do we know about him?” they’d ask each other, but the answer was generally nothing more than a furrowed brow and a shrug of the shoulders. 

Herbert Flannery, dumbfounded by the turn of events, went out and bought himself a powder blue convertible, then took to coloring his hair shoe-polish black.

Mabel Cunningham, a woman who had known Olivia since high school, claimed she’d heard rumors of Charlie being a philanderer.

“Not likely,” Francine Burnam said as she stuck a pacifier into her grandbaby’s mouth. Her daughter had recently divorced a ne’er-do-well husband and returned home to Mama with the infant and two toddlers.  “Olivia’s too smart to be taken in by someone like that,” Francine sighed wistfully.

Even the boy who bagged groceries at the A & P seemed to be boggled by the sight of her new diamond ring. “You’re engaged?” he said. Then he stood there staring at her while a ripe cantaloupe rolled off the end of the counter and splattered on the floor.

None of this bothered Olivia as she strolled around town shopping for a trousseau and looking every bit the prospective bride. She never noticed how shopkeepers would cover their mouth and giggle when she asked to see bridal veils and blue garters. She paid no attention when Alma suggested rethinking retirement, and she laughed out loud when Mabel said she ought to have Charlie investigated by a private detective.

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Genre – Literary Fiction

Rating – PG13

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