When All The Girls Have Gone(5)

By: Jayne Ann Krentz

She paused at the memorial board to look at the faces of the recently deceased. The pictures on the board almost always featured the individual in the prime of his or her life. The men were often dressed in dashing military uniforms or well-tailored business suits and ties. The women were invariably garbed in the style of another era. Some were in wedding gowns, their eyes radiant with the anticipation of a blissful future.

Charlotte was pretty sure that none of them had expected to end up at the Rainy Creek Gardens Retirement Village. But the truth was that those on the memorial board had survived whatever life had thrown at them—tragedy, trauma, disappointment and heartbreak—and lived to tell their tales at Rainy Creek.

In the grand scheme of things, Charlotte thought, getting left at the altar was nothing more than a dramatic story that, with luck, she would be telling her friends and neighbors and, perhaps, her own grandchildren decades from now.

She went into her office, made a few notes about the next memoir writing session and then went over her schedule.

Sarah Jameson appeared in the doorway. She was in her late fifties, a trim, attractive woman who favored skirted business suits and black pumps. She lounged in the doorway, arms folded, and smiled.

“I hear there was a bit of a dustup in the Write Your Life group today,” she said. “Something about Ethel Deeping wanting to end the chapter on her marriage by saying that she killed her husband decades ago.”

“Word travels fast,” Charlotte said.

“Blame happy hour.”

“There appears to be some confusion in the class about the fine line between writing memoirs and writing fiction,” Charlotte said. “Ethel says her husband was a successful, well-respected man who gave back to the community, but I think she carries some residual anger toward him. He died when their kids were young and Ethel was left to raise them on her own. I think she’s using a fictional ending as a way of taking revenge. Also, she says it’s more dramatic.”

Sarah chuckled. “Well, she’s got a point. Who are we to stop her from writing whatever she wants to write? Besides, you did say that memoirs are a kind of therapy.”

“True.” Charlotte glanced out the window. It was still raining. She retrieved her boots from under her desk and slipped off her heels. “The problem is that the rest of the class is upset with Ethel’s decision to embellish her life story.”

“I doubt if Ethel is the only one who is guilty of that.”

“Well, a pattern is emerging.” Charlotte tugged on the boots. “Most of the class prefers to write about the good stuff that happened to them and ignore the bad.”

“Where’s the harm in that?”

“I agree.” Charlotte got to her feet and took her anorak down off the coatrack. “There is definitely something to be said for denial. I’ve learned that much from working here at the village. Some of the happiest residents are those who seem to have done an excellent job of rewriting their own pasts.”

She took her handbag out of the bottom drawer of her desk and slung the strap over one shoulder.

“Any word from Jocelyn?” Sarah asked.

“No. Incredibly enough, I think she must be enjoying herself at that convent retreat. I never thought she’d make it through the first week, to be honest. Jocelyn is practically hardwired into the Internet. I bet her ten bucks she wouldn’t be able to go a full month without checking her e-mail.”

“Well, she’s only been gone for a week. You might win that bet yet. Got plans for this evening?”

“Not really. I’m going to stop by Jocelyn’s condo to water her plants and collect her snail mail on my way home today. That’s probably going to be the highlight of my night. You?”

“No, but I’m looking forward to the weekend. My husband and I are going to drive over to the coast. There’s another storm due in. I love the beach during storm season.”

“Sounds great,” Charlotte said. “See you tomorrow.”

She made her way through the lobby, said her good-byes to the front desk staff and went out into the rain-drenched gloom of the fall afternoon. She paused in the wide, gracious entranceway and reran the conversation with Sarah in her head. She did not care for the ending.

I’m a single woman of a certain age and I’ve got zero plans for tonight and none for the weekend, she thought. That was ridiculous. No doubt about it, she had spent more than enough time brooding about the Brian Conroy disaster. She needed to get a life.

She pulled up the hood of her jacket—only tourists carried umbrellas in Seattle—and got ready to step out into the steady drizzle.

Hot Read

Last Updated


Top Books