Meeting of Friends II

📅 May 26, 2020

By the time Ivy Leigh and I had stepped into the living room, Bonny Bee and Maybelle had seated themselves at the kitchen table.  

Of course. They both believed…as did Ivy Leigh…that the kitchen was the heart of the home and truly life-changing discussions happened there.

Ivy Leigh, in the middle of the living room, was busy surveying my home.

“Lovely. Open. Lots of windows. Feels like the Magnolia Arms.”

“I wish,” I said.

Of all the settings I had created…indeed, of all places including those in the real world…the Magnolia Arms was my favorite, the place where…when I was inhabiting it…I felt most like myself.

Ivy Leigh gripped my elbow. I was not surprised at the strength in her hands. I had experienced it many times before when she was trying to get someone’s attention—mostly Agnes Quinn’s.

She zeroed in on me with her piercing eyes. “I don’t mean the walls and the floor. I mean—”

“Open arms, open heart,” Bonny Bee called out. “Are you sure you don’t have any tea?”

Maybelle pushed back from the table and started for the cabinet by the stove. “I’ll look in the cupboard. Didn’t you buy green tea the last time you had a cold?”

Stupefied, I shook my head to regain my mental balance. “Yeah. It’s in on the bottom shelf, in the back on the left-hand corner, behind the coffee.”

“Coffee,” Ivy Leigh said. “Now you’ve said the magic word.”

Maybelle found the box labelled ‘Green Tea.’ There followed an inordinate amount of confusion when she produced the box, lifted the flap, and discovered Keurig cups. Wide-eyed, upper lip twisted, she held the small white pod between her thumb and forefinger as if in possession of ill-gotten loot from a bank heist.

“What in tarnation is this?” Maybelle demanded. “How do you get the tea out?”

Bonnie Bee frowned…sweetly.

Ivy Leigh, characteristically tolerant and always open to new ideas, listened politely as I explained.

“Coffee for one,” Ivy Leigh said. “I like that. And you say, they make different flavors?”

“Yes,” I said. “Dark, mild. Seasonal flavors, too, like pumpkin.”

Maybelle handed over the K-cup and flounced to her chair, jerking it out with dramatic flair. 

“You’ve obviously never hosted a barn raising or even a quilting bee,” Maybelle said, as if this were a social failure too grievous to be pardoned.

“Or a houseful of thirsty pirates,” Bonny Bee added. “Much less household staff and guests.”

Household staff, I thought. Please.

Eager to redeem myself, I snapped on the Keurig, so it could heat.

“Well, not since Christmas ’05,” I said. “We had a party that year. I’ve got some pictures around somewhere…teenage boys, lined up, holding potted plants if I remember correctly.”

But incensed over my lack of industry and efficiency, not one of them was listening at that point.

Bonny Bee continued. “Don’t you ever host village events…like a talent show?”

“Talent show?” I asked, placing a cup on the Keurig tray. “No. I mean…I’ve performed in talent shows, and spoken at storytelling festivals, but—”

Maybelle wasn’t finished with me, not by a long shot. “I’d be laughed out of Hog Holler, if I tried to make one cup of anything at a time.”

As usual, Ivy Leigh intervened. “Come now, ladies,” she said, slipping in beside Bonny Bee, “Holly doesn’t live the same kind of life we do. She’s busy.”

The way she said this made it sound like a character flaw.

“Busy?” Maybelle said. “She’s already admitted she never cooks. One cup of coffee at a time,” she sneered. “I never in my life…”

“One cup at a time doesn’t seem very efficient,” Bonny Bee said. “Now I understand why you’ve so little time to write. You’re always having to hop up and make coffee.”

I added honey to Bonny Bee’s tea. At least I could get that right.

“I only drink two cups a day in the morning,” I said. “Decaf at night. Bedtime ritual.”

“De-what?” Bonny Bee asked.

“How about a cookie?” Maybelle asked.

I removed the green tea pod and replaced it with Folger’s. “I have some Chips Ahoy,” I said, nearly sprinting to the pantry. “And animal crackers.” I opened the door and reached in.

“Chips Uh-What?” Maybelle asked. 

Ivy Leigh caught my eye and gave a quick shake of her head, warning me off.

“Or we could have some—” I grabbed the white can off the pantry shelf—“some walnuts and”—I glanced at the plastic box on the counter, fresh from the produce section,”—blueberries.”

By then Maybelle’s coffee was done. I added cream and sugar and served her. Then plopped the blueberries and walnuts on the table, like a forlorn centerpiece, and headed back to the Keurig to make coffee for Ivy Leigh.

“Napkins?” Ivy Leigh suggested.

I went one better and set the table with paper plates. Maybelle picked one up and was about to speak when Ivy Leigh laid her hand on hers.

“Let’s not get any further off track, dear,” Ivy Leigh said. “We need to stop talking about non-essentials and get down to the matter at hand.”

Maybelle set down the plate. “You’re right.” She took a swig of coffee. “It’s just my nature to want to help, but the money she must be spending on tiny cups and throwaway plates…”

Bonny Bee sipped her tea, pinky finger raised. “Ivy Leigh’s right. There are more pressing concerns to attend to.”

By now Ivy Leigh’s coffee was done. I served her and took my place at the head of the table.

“What is it?” I asked.

They exchanged furtive glances, each deferring to the other.

Finally, Ivy Leigh held out her hand, palm up, gesturing to Bonny Bee. She spoke. 

“It’s about the men in our lives.”

It was going to be a long night.

1 Comment

  1. Judy Andrews

    Can’t wait to see where you’re going with this! Love it!


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Holly Bebernitz

Native Texan Holly Bebernitz moved to Jacksonville, Florida in 1967. After thirty years of teaching speech, English, and history on the secondary and college levels, she retired from classroom teaching to become a full-time grandmother. The change in schedule allowed the time needed to complete the novel she had begun writing in 1998. When Trevorode the Defender was published in March 2013, the author realized the story of the Magnolia Arms was not yet complete.


Semi-Finalist - 2021 Royal Palm Literary Award Competition - Florida Writer's Association