As a lifelong reader and writer, Liz writes articles and poetry. She also enjoys watching and reviewing movies.
It was a lemonade-on-the-porch-swing kind of day in the quiet rural town. No clouds filtered the sun, and only a timid breeze tickled the ears of the pussy willows along the stream bank. Maddie Stevenson sighed a contented sigh as she sat, gently swinging and enjoying her drink.
She thought back to the family reunion. So many grandchildren, cousins, nieces and nephews! It was great to see them all together. She drifted into sweet reverie. There was Grandpa Jones, celebrating his hundred and second birthday, and as spry as ever. She spoke at length with her sister, Rosalee, reminiscing about their hijinks as children.
Around the grounds she walked, sampling all the delicious goodies everyone had brought. Her eldest granddaughter, just recently graduated from college, had come with her boyfriend, but the whispers were that he was really her fiancé.
Maddie always enjoyed her visits with Maybelle Tibbins. She was such a longtime friend of the family that she practically was family, always there to help in times of need. Maddie asked her about the latest hat she wore; Maybelle had a weak spot for new hats. This one was gaily decorated with bright flowers on green straw, and tied with a bow under the chin. Maybelle said, “Oh, you wouldn’t believe it, but this darling chapeau was sadly tossed aside in a corner at the second-hand store! I just had to rescue it! It looks like it’s brand-new, doesn’t it?” Maddie agreed, and made little sounds to echo her surprise that such a darling hat would be almost in the trash bin.
As she ate a piece of birthday cake, she was surrounded by the youngest members of the clan, all eager for one of her stories of the old days. She finished her cake and launched into one of the favorite tales.
“It was a day much like this, only school was in session as it wasn’t quite summer vacation time yet. All the girls were wearing summer-weight frocks, you know, because it was such a nice warm day.”
Maddie paused, knowing the suspense would prompt one of the grandchildren to demand more details.
“Was it after school, then?” asked little May Alder, the youngest of the group surrounding Maddie.
“Yes, it was,” Maddie continued. “The class had just let out; we were all in one classroom in those days, so all the grades were together. As we started our walk home, which was about two miles, we chatted about the lessons, and about what we were going to be doing during summer. It wasn’t really a vacation back then of course. We were expected to help with family chores. The girls cooked and cleaned and the boys helped in the fields. Our family had just planted this apple orchard five years prior, and we were looking forward to our first really good harvest.”
“But what about what you did after school?” Interrupted May's brother, Billy, who had heard the story before and realized that Great Grandma Maddie had gone off track.
“Oh, yes, after school. Well, there we were, Sally Middleford and I, along with Rebekah Jenkins, all minding our own business, walking, talking, and laughing. All of a sudden, we noticed some boys behind us, laughing and being very noisy. It wasn’t a nice laugh; they were up to something, for sure.”
“What happened? What did they do?” Prompted Billy.
“Well sir, those naughty boys had found a wasp nest, and pulled it down from a tree with some sticks. The next thing we knew, they threw the thing at our heels! Oh, my, the awful sound of those buzzing, angry wasps, I shall never forget! We heard those boys laughing uproariously as we screamed and ran down the road as fast as our ten-year-old legs could carry us! Those wasps, though, could fly pretty fast, and a number of them caught up with us, and we all got stung.”
“I bet that hurt pretty bad, huh?” said May.
“Yes, a wasp sting is pretty painful, and the bad thing about wasps, is they can each sting you several times. We ran as fast as we could, and threw ourselves into Little Longhorn Creek to get away, and cool the stings.”
“Oh, no! Your pretty dresses all wet and dirty,” wailed Abby Brooks, who had thus far sat entranced with the story.
“Oh, yes, we were a sorry sight when we got home, and my mother was very cross with me for getting so dirty and all wet. But when I told her what happened, she seemed a little less angry, but it was not a very pleasant day.”
“So did your dresses get clean again?” Abby wanted to know.
“Yes, mother scrubbed extra hard, and managed to get most of the mud out, but it was never quite like a nice new dress again.”
Maddie stood up, and the children knew not to pester her for another story just yet; after all, she was really old, and needed to rest often. At least that’s what they thought, because when you’re only six or seven, any age beyond twenty seems positively ancient.
She walked across the grass, missing no one, stopping to chat, and finally the party was over, and as the guests left, she sat on her swing, feeling at once happy and melancholy.
Maddie opened her eyes, coming out of her daydream, and smiled a satisfied smile. Sipping the last of her lemonade, she set the glass on the table and remarked, to no one in particular, for indeed, she was alone, “It will be nice to see everyone again.” She sat back and started to gently swing, and closed her eyes for the last time.
© 2017 Liz Elias
Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on October 29, 2019:
Thanks very much. I'm delighted you so enjoyed this bit of fluff. ;-)
Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on October 28, 2019:
Liz, this is a beautiful story. The ending was quite a surprise, but I was happy for Maddie. She went out peacefully with a smile on her face and warm memories in her heart.
Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on October 25, 2018:
I know what you mean. I don't think I was quite ready for the end, even as I was writing it. This was one of those pieces that just sort of 'came to me' already written, as it were.
You are right about boys, as well! All was excused under the catch-all offhanded comment of "boys will be boys." Terrible! Glad you liked the story, overall, and thanks for your lovely comment.
Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on October 25, 2018:
What a lovely story. It brought back some great memories until you got to the end; not quite ready for that yet. Maddie's story of the mean boys also reminds me of mean boys of my childhood who would attack us with fists or throw rocks at us when we were walking home from school. Boys could get away with any kind of bullying back then. Thanks for the lovely nostalgia, Liz.
Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on April 24, 2018:
Thank you very much, Jill. I'm glad you enjoyed this story. I have rarely written short stories of any kind, but this one just seemed to flow all by itself from my fingers to the keyboard.
I like to think it was a gift from my mother, who is probably at this moment sitting on just such a porch swing and enjoying some lemonade on the other side.
Jill Spencer from United States on April 23, 2018:
Twice your story surprised me-- first when it became a story within a story and then again at the end. It seems so cozy at first glance, but as in life, there's that skull beneath the skin. Thank you for a good read! Jill
Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on October 04, 2017:
Thank you very much, Bill; coming from a writer of your caliber, that means a great deal!
I'm delighted that you enjoyed this fanciful tale. There is a tiny element of truth in this story, and that's the part about the wasps. I've taken a good deal of artistic license with it, but the idea is based upon a story my dad told of something that happened to him and his brother in their childhood. ;-)
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 04, 2017:
I fell in love with the story in the first paragraph...."timid breeze" is a great phrase. The setting was set early for a wonderful adventure, and you delivered.
Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on September 19, 2017:
Thank you, Linda; I appreciate that. The first sentence just sort of came to me out of the blue; I thought briefly about it, and the rest just sort of wrote itself. I'd like to think of it as a gift from my mother, from the other side. ;-)
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 19, 2017:
This is a lovely piece of writing, Liz. The story is beautiful and sad at the same time.
Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on September 19, 2017:
Thank you, everyone, for your comments. Somehow, this piece just sort of wrote itself; I don't know how or why.
I'm pleased you enjoyed the piece.
Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on September 19, 2017:
Oh...that's so sad. Sweet, though, but sad. I don't know how it can be both but, that's how it feels.
Ashi on September 17, 2017:
I enjoyed reading your hub. I loved the way you have penned down this article. It is flowing very well. I couldn't stop until the end.
Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on September 17, 2017:
A beautiful story. Family reunions are so wonderful that you keep thinking and longing for them again and again. But, the ending is somewhat sorrowful, even though it must have been nice for Maddie to die with those sweet memories.