Meeting of Friends IX

📅 August 4, 2020

Deeply troubled, Bridey was still lost in thought. I regretted I had caused her enough discomfort that she had retreated into herself.

I sometimes wondered if I had been fair to Bridey, especially after she had done me so many favors.

Anytime a scene veered off track or got stuck in a ditch, Bridey could always be counted on to pop the clutch and jolt it into another gear.

I had created her principally as a foil for Pinetta Fraleigh’s unremitting reserve and pristine behavior.

The instant I sent Bridey, brash and lacking any social grace, bolting through the back door of the Magnolia Arms to spread mayhem, brochures, and unsolicited casseroles, Pinetta’s starchiness wilted.

And that was essential to her character arc and the story as a whole.

Add to that: Bridey could never say anyone’s name correctly and always insisted on calling Pinetta ‘Piney’ and I had a surefire means of bringing both comic relief and conflict to any scene.  

Every story needs a “Bridey.” I wondered why I waited so long to make her one of the citizens of Dennisonville.

“What are you thinking?” Muriel asked.

I squinted at her. “Oh…I…was just wondering if I’ve done right by all of you.”

“What do you mean?” Ivy Leigh asked.

I shrugged. “You’re all such remarkable women…each in your own way. I was just wondering if you’re all happy with where you are.”

“I was happy in the last book,” Bridey said. “Especially my scene with the mayor. Not sure about this book…from what you’ve said. I sure like the improvements you’ve made to Dennisonville…especially the music school.”

“I agree with that,” Muriel said. “My restaurant is thriving”—she reached across the table and squeezed Ivy Leigh’s hand—“thanks to the groundwork this gal laid. The client base was already there. All I had to do was make improvements to the building. And I’d done that before with my parents’ house…my great-grandparents’ house, I mean.”  

“I tell that story in the beginning of the next book,” I said hopefully.

“You do?”

“Uh-huh.” The laptop was still open on the table, so I scrolled through till I found the right paragraph. “There’s a nice section on the history of the house.”

I found it and read:

The Bennetts lived in the old family home, a rambling, two-story brown brick house in the heart of Plainview. Designed and built by great grandfather Preston Bennett, the residence was the envy of all who passed by, not only because of its beauty, but also because “Miss Emmaline” (as everyone called her) suffused the house with her gentle presence and impeccable taste. Here the Bennett girls grew up, surrounded by good books, good music, good food, good company, and hospitality offered open-handed to friend and stranger alike. 

 “That’s nice,” Muriel said. “That’s exactly what it was like.”

“I, for one, love your restaurant,” Bridey said. “But I never understood why you named it “Mollie’s.”

“It’s a loose mixture of my name and my sisters. ‘M’ for Muriel. My youngest sister is Dolley. And my middle sister is Cammie, so I took the ‘ie’ from her name.”

“And we meet all the sisters this time around?” Ivy Leigh asked.

“Yes. And Cammie’s children. Mostly Pepper, as I’ve said. She plays a key role.”

“It will be nice to be back together with family,” Muriel said. “I’ve been away from them for a long time.”

“I have to be honest with you,” Ivy Leigh said, “I’m glad my family story has already been addressed. It will be nice to sit back and relax in this next book.” She raised one eyebrow at me—always unnerving. “I do get to relax a little in this book, right?”

“Yes,” I said. “For the most part.”

“There’s always a qualifier with you,” she said.

“I can’t make things too hard on you this time around,” I said. “Agnes is going to need help…again.”

“And what about me?” Bridey asked.

“That’s another matter,” I said, “but absolutely necessary. Trust me on that.”

Muriel sighed. “Somehow trusting you always gets us in trouble.”

“I second that,” Ivy Leigh said.

“Third,” Bridey said. “Anybody want more fruitcake? There’s plenty left.”


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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