cobwebs and connections by phoenix.writingc

24 Jan

Margaret narrowed her eyes and stared at the spider on the ceiling.  There had been a time when this would not have posed an insurmountable problem, a time when the ceiling hadn’t seemed so far away.  When she was younger, she could easily have reached the arachnid.  Unfortunately, while her mind was as sharp as ever—and she’d dare anyone to contradict her—her body was slowly losing the battle with time.  Her joints ached, and her gnarled fingers no longer resembled the thin, delicate ones with the fine nails which Alfred had always insisted had attracted him to her to begin with.

Even three years ago, she had had Alfred.  Though four years older than his wife, he had remained remarkably spry and willing to cater to his wife’s whims.  If she did not want the spider on the ceiling, then he would have taken care of it.  But Alfred had been dead these three years, and Margaret was all alone in the house.  She had a cleaning lady who came once a week, and her son or his wife tried to stop by at least once a week as well, but it wasn’t the same.  They had never really understood what they called Margaret’s whimsy, and this left Margaret to her own devices, staring at the spider on the ceiling and determined to persevere.

As long as she moved slowly and carefully, she could still get up the step ladder.  Everything was stiffer than it used to be, but it still worked eventually—for the most part.

She pulled the step ladder into position, unfolding it carefully and reflecting that if she broke her neck, the only saving grace would be that she wouldn’t be alive to hear George animadvert on the subject; he could be really quite insufferable when he wanted to be.

She’d made it to the third wrung of the ladder, hovering a little precariously but with one arm out to balance herself and the other gripping the ladder, when she was interrupted.

“Gran!  What do you think you are doing?”

She clutched at the ladder.  Patrick’s visits were always unpredictable.  His schedule at university was peculiar, and he rarely visited on the same day of the week or at the same time as his last visit.  Since she was invariably at home, she didn’t really mind this—it wasn’t every twenty-year-old who came to visit his grandmother with any sort of regularity, after all.

She loosened her grip on the metal and gestured at the ceiling.  Patrick looked up, rolled his eyes, and came all the way over.

“Off the ladder, Gran.  Right now.”

Margaret sighed and climbed back down the ladder, letting Patrick give her a hand getting back on the ground and then into the comfortable chair that was next to the fireplace and across from the television—optimal positioning, Patrick had called it.

Barely was she settled before Patrick was practically hopping up the step ladder and had reached out to scoop the spider into his hand.  Then it was back down the ladder, a grin for his gran, and a quick excursion outside to liberate the eight-legged creature.

Patrick was the only one who’d inherited Margaret’s respect for the insect world, but she couldn’t call him every time she found a spider on the ceiling.
He was stubborn like his grandfather, though, and one look at his face when he came back in said that Margaret was going to get a scolding.

“I’ll put the kettle on,” he said before disappearing to the kitchen.

He was back a few minutes later.

“I’ll make you a deal,” Patrick said as he set a mug of tea down in front of her and took a seat with his own mug.  “You call me before you decide to take up acrobatics again, and I won’t tell Dad.”

Margaret reflected that certain characteristics really did seem to skip a generation.  George would already have yelled ten times over, and he wasn’t wily enough to get her to agree to something like this.

“You’ve got my brains, kiddo.  It’s a deal.”

Patrick grinned at her, and they settled in for their tea.

14 Responses to “cobwebs and connections by phoenix.writingc”

  1. jadamthwaite January 24, 2010 at 9:33 pm #

    I really like Margaret and Patrick’s relationship. I like how they share a certain mischievousness that Patrick’s parents wouldn’t understand. And I like how determined Margaret is to just get on with things, no matter how difficult they are for her.

    • phoenix.writing January 30, 2010 at 10:28 pm #

      I’m glad you enjoyed it. We have a variety of traits that seem to skip a generation in my family, so I thought I’d run away with that a bit here. ^_^

  2. ingridfnl January 24, 2010 at 9:44 pm #

    I love the intimacy and gentleness between Margaret and Patrick and the inclusion of rituals like having tea together. Great story.

    • phoenix.writing January 30, 2010 at 10:29 pm #

      Tea is awesome. I’m glad you enjoyed the story. ^_^

  3. Lydia Jayne January 24, 2010 at 10:27 pm #

    I love your Margaret: she’s so feisty! I’d add ‘patient when her family tries to tell her what to do,’ but it’s clear she’s planning to ignore them anyway. 🙂 I’m glad Patrick cares and understands her as Margaret, the person.

    • phoenix.writing January 30, 2010 at 10:30 pm #

      LOL Yup, she’s going to do what she wants no matter what they say, but at least she has Patrick in her corner to assist. ^_^

  4. juleshg January 25, 2010 at 1:27 am #

    I love how Patrick brings the spider outside instead of killing it.

    The line: “Patrick was the only one who’d inherited Margaret’s respect for the insect world, but she couldn’t call him every time she found a spider on the ceiling” is such a wonderful way of demonstrating that they have a special bond.

    You did a great job of giving us a sense of both characters as well as their unique relationship with that one little scene.

    • phoenix.writing January 30, 2010 at 10:32 pm #

      I liked the idea of Patrick being able to make a connection that his dad missed; I always find it interesting to see how different generations interact, and I’m glad that their bond came across so clearly to you. ^_^

  5. typicalquirk January 25, 2010 at 2:44 am #

    I love the coziness of her house, the sense of family. How she is alone, but coping. Nicely done.

    • phoenix.writing January 30, 2010 at 10:33 pm #

      It’s my hope that alone doesn’t always have to mean lonely (or at least not lonely all the time.) She’s got her family and her sense of self. ^_^

  6. thatgrrl January 31, 2010 at 1:48 am #

    I’ve just joined up to contribute. I think it’s odd that everyone seemed to see Margaret as an old widow. When I started reading the site I thought the writing prompt must have told everyone to write her as an old widow character. 🙂

    I like that this Margaret wasn’t so alone. 🙂

    • phoenix.writing January 31, 2010 at 1:54 am #

      Well, the prompt did specify that she was 84 and that her husband had died three years earlier; what we did with it after that was up to us, and I did indeed try to give her a family and some good connections.

      Welcome to the project! ^_^

    • ingridfnl January 31, 2010 at 1:55 am #

      you were right! this was the prompt:

      margaret was an 83 year old widow. 🙂


  1. falling-out by phoenix.writing « the character project - April 18, 2010

    […] to Patrick: Cobwebs and Connections and From a Distance and […]

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