Realism… Magically?

The knitting store on the corner of Main and Copper streets had a long tradition of being the gossip hangout of the small town. Small towns are all the same, in some way or another, and they all have small shops and restaurants where the older residents would congregate and discuss the week. This town had this shop. The Yarn Depot. It was opened during the days when the word “depot” still seemed modern and inspired. If a new knitting store were to open now, the youngsters would probably call it Ye Olde Yarn Shoppe, trying to be twee and adorable. The kitting circle at the Yarn Depot all agreed that it was a good thing that none of the young people were interested in knitting.
Magdalene, Barbara, Lorna and Jack were the main members of the Monday night knitting circle. Jack and Lorna were the married couple who’d opened the Yarn Depot some fifty years ago, when Jack’s grandmother had died and left him a lot of money to “do something productive with,” as she’d written in the letter addressed to him that was found with her will. Jack’s parents were both scatterbrained, and his grandmother didn’t trust them not to spend the money on a trip to Africa. She didn’t approve of travel because she thought that there was nothing in the world that could compare to the good, old United States of America.
Some people thought Jack was throwing his money away and not doing anything useful with it at all. But Lorna, who had a better head for business than he did, assured him that while they may not make a lot of money, they would always make a small profit, enough to build up a college fund for their children over the years. She’d been right, and while the Yarn Depot had had its rough years, as all businesses did, it also had a steady clientele of regulars.
Monday nights weren’t open to the general public. Monday nights were just theirs. Theirs and their friends’. Maggie and Barb were their oldest friends. They’d all gone to high school together in the small town, and they all knew each others’ smallest quirks, likes, dislikes, pet peeves, oddball habits and deadly allergies. Every Monday night the circular table in the back room of the shop was always set up the same – there was a bottle of red wine for Barb, a bottle of apple cider for Maggie who was a recovering alcoholic, a box of sugarless cookies for Jack, who’d been diabetic for the last few years, and a bowl of potato chips for Lorna, who despised sweets.
The talk on the particular Monday night where everything started happening was directed at the usual things.
“I can’t believe I’m knitting baby booties. Again,” Maggie said. She pushed her big glasses up her nose.
“Have you gotten the ultrasound photos yet?” Jack asked.
“No, and thank goodness. I don’t think I can coo over another blob and pretend that I see anything in it.”
“Oh, you’re such a liar, dear,” Barb said, patting Maggie on the knee. “She cries every time.”
“I don’t approve of having so many children. Two is quite enough. A fourth is really getting out of hand. And what if it’s another girl? They’re not going to check the sex, you know. They want to have it be another surprise.”
“Do you think they’ll try for a fifth if they don’t get a boy this time?” Lorna asked, casting yarn onto knitting needles the reached her knees. Her specialty was blankets.
“If that man has his way. All he wants is a boy to play ball with. I keep telling him and telling him-”
“She does, you know, she’s not just saying it-” Barb muttered confidentially to Jack.
“-that a girl can play baseball just as well as a boy can.” Maggie frowned at Barb but didn’t say anything. It was one of those long-time-couple things. She knew Maggie spoke over people and she’d given up on trying to change that a long time ago.
A lull in the conversation led Jack to exclaim over the cookies. Barb and Maggie baked them, using sweetener instead of sugar, and although Jack had a bad after-taste in his mouth from the artificial flavor, he told them that the cookies were “luscious, simply decadent,” so as not to hurt their feelings.
It could have shaped up into a pretty normal evening if it wasn’t for the fact that a knight, a fairy and a talking tom-cat rushed in through the front door, begging to be hidden from the maddened wolf-sorcerer who was following them.

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12 thoughts on “Realism… Magically?

  1. This piece put a smile on my face. My grandmother had reunions like these, although they were inside her home in the old parts of town where all her friends gathered to pray an entire rosary. It was probably some kind of atonement or confession, however, because as soon as they were done they started gossiping about everything, sometimes even private family matters.

    Still, it was a sight to behold. All these old ladies had each and every one of the prayers committed to memory.

    • I think that gatherings and communities of people who’ve known each other for a long time are always fascinating. People seem to make such interesting connections with each other, and on so many levels, when they’ve known each other over a lifetime.

  2. Erin M says:

    Love this piece! ^__^

    Also, knitting is so much fun. (How is your knitting going, by the way?)

    But, were you secretly in my Editing Fiction class? Seriously crazy coincidence. One of the exercises we did was rewriting a story set in a yarn shop as different genres, and one of the groups was assigned fantasy . . .

    • I love knitting so much too! It’s going well, I’m currently making a hat, probably the prettiest one with the most complicated pattern I’ve ever made (I’m still a total beginner, though).

  3. Ok. So. If by for some strange reason I was transported to the Yarn Depot on a Monday night I would definitely have to sit beside Jack (I’m a type 1 diabetic. Thanks for acknowledging us!)
    Secondly—and these odd comments are not unhelpful, I think—one of my favorite parts of this piece (don’t ask me why) is when you quote Jack’s grandmother (“to do something productive with”). It heightens the narrative somehow, by adding another layer—it’s a tid-bit of a personality that is absent but crucial… I don’t know. It points to imaginativeness on your part.
    Third, a rather like the general tableau you’ve painted for us, of the shop owners and their friends knitting and conversing… the cozy familiarity straightforwardness.
    Fourth, I was indeed shocked by the ending. Still thinking it over.

    Danny
    PS-anticipating your next post

    • Hi Danny!

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this. I’m not sure what the deal was with the ending or why I wrote it, really. I also published a new entry already since this one – I hope it’s visible, even though it’s not my best work. I tend not to edit things here.

      Also, for some bizarre reason, I’m not managing to comment on your website :(…

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