Aunt Mary's 100 Birthday Party by Bill Vernon

Bill Vernon's flash about an old lady reflecting on things changing in the last hundred years.

Land sakes, I ain't seen so many people since they put me in here. I mean this place is all right, but I hated leavin' my home. Lived there, you know, for 55 years. But I cain't walk the two blocks to church no more. Cain't walk the aisles when I'm driven to market. Don't hear like I should. And my eyes ain't no better. I got to squint up even with glasses on, and lean close fer details.

You get my age, you got aches and pains all over. No wonder I mix up names, acallin' Kay Judy; Pat Jerry; Ruth Emmy, but she's dead, I know it, don't tell me, three or four years now. No wonder I fergit things like my teeth. One time I couldn't eat fer two whole days, lookin' fer 'em. Then there they was all the time sittin' perty as you please in a glass by the sink.

You young-uns should listen. That's the story of life, ain't it? People grow old and dry up like these here carnations, put in that vase by a nurse, then fergotten fer two weeks. Their smell's gone and their petals dropped. What a shame. They was pretty just fer a short time.

There's been some changes I tell you I don't cotton to, like in the mass. First, they said it in English, not Latin, then started this here hand-shakin' stuff. They brought in folk songs and guitars. My, my! The organ was plenty fer me. But I went along with it all, believin' the pope knew what's best.

This new-fangled thinkin' - don't it beat all! Now they want us clappin' every time somethin' good happens. Blowin' trumpets. Drummin'. Huggin'! Yellin'! Lordy, it's like we all was converted to Baptist.

Fer me, keep it simple. I like Father Jack visitin' here like he does, sayin' mass, havin' communion, hearin' confession. That's fine. I'm happy. I get out too, don't you know? Rose picks me up once a week, afixin' my hair, asettin' me down by what kiddies are home fer a supper.

And right here in this place, Bertha Lowry's next door, aknittin' scarves fer her grandsons. We talk pertnear every day. See what I'm gittin' at when I tell Father Jack I'm like an apostle? I done gave away all my possessions but what is in these here drawers - paper, pen, and sup hose, mainly. My mama's rosary's in there too. And her Bible. Not much else.

Most afternoons these days I sit outside on the front porch and rock, just passin' the time, watchin' cars whizz by on Straitsville Road. Sometimes, wheeled away to a window in back, I can look out a window and see smoke arisin' from the chimleys where Rose and Al live. That there is the very house and farm I left to marry John. My, my, them days are long gone. And you know what? Soon I will be too.

Now I hear we got some cake to eat. Somebody push me over to that table and let's do it.


  1. Aunt Mary is sitting here next to me - and I want her to stay! I want to listen to more ..... I loved this story, wriiten in an unassuming and naturalistic style and with real emotional intelligence. Flash fiction as a window into another world. Thank you so much,

  2. really,really strong story. Flash fiction at its best. Plenty of food for thought, as Ceinwen said, written in a simple style.
    Well done

    Mike McC

  3. Thanks for this one -- such a pleasure to sit with Aunt Mary. Pitch-perfect, it seems to me.

  4. Flash fiction can sometimes lean towards poetry in how it attempts to capture a moment or a sense of being. To me, a story should focus on the moment. This focuses on that sense of being, that moment of existence so to speak that is purely internal. In that sense, I wonder if this is better suited to a poem. It lacks the narrative structure a story needs, but the voice and the character are so vivid that you could carry all the same emotion and lovely simplicity without the immediate concern of convention.

  5. I love this story. The voice, the style, the message. The story captures a profound truth--that we lose much as we age, but we also gain much too, the knowledge that it is the simple things that matter most. So much for all that bluster of sound and fury. Give me a piece of cake, and I'll be happy, too. Very well done.

  6. This story flashed before me with the engaging character of Aunt Mary. I enjoyed the references to the past, particularly in regard to Fr. Jack and the changes in the mass. My mama's rosary. And her bible. A feel good story.