This story is by Dr. Marilyn S. Murphree and was part of our 2017 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Charlie’s in Love
He was old then, but he lived life to the fullest. At 86 his friends wondered why in the world he would start collecting pottery of all things.
“Good for him,” Myrna his next door neighbor told Sue Ellen during their early morning walks. He seems so alive and excited about finding a new piece for his collection. He almost seems…”
“Young again,” Sue Ellen finished her sentence. “Yes, he seems young again.”
“I wish I could find something to make me feel that young,” Myrna said laughing, “but I’m sure it wouldn’t be pottery.”
“We all need something to look forward to,” Sue Ellen said. “I wonder why he decided on pottery?”
“I don’t know, but I bet he would be more than happy to tell us. Have you seen his growing collection?” Myrna asked.
“Well, yes, but I didn’t pay much attention to it. Seems he just began collecting about a year and a half ago when his daughter was here to visit. I just happened to be at a yard sale next door, and I met his daughter and stopped to chat for awhile. He asked if I would like to see his pottery collection,” Sue Ellen said. “Now my curiosity is getting the best of me. Maybe we could pay him a visit this afternoon and see what else he has added.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Myrna said. “Maybe we should think about a hobby that would turn back the clock for us.”
Stopping by Sue Ellen’s on the way home for a few minutes, she thought, I will definitely go check out his pottery collection and find out why he began collecting pottery.
Arriving at his home, she went around to the back door. Charlie was busy pulling some ripe tomatoes off the vine.
“Good afternoon, Charlie. What have you been up to today?” Myrna asked.
“Oh, I’ve got to tell you about my find on the internet. I’ve been looking for a particular piece of Hull pottery for the longest time. It was listed last week, and I placed a bid on it. Didn’t really think I would be lucky enough to get it, but the bidding was over at 1:00 today, and it’s mine. Not a bad price at that.”
“Well, that’s great, Charlie,” Myrna said. “I know you love pottery, but I am curious how you ever started collecting this late in life?” she asked. “Where do you put it all?”
“Well, my friends think I have gone crazy going to auctions and flea markets as well as searching the internet. I know I’m getting older, but every time I see a piece of Sueno tulip pottery, I think of my wife, Dora, of fifty five years. When I first met her, I gave her a piece of this particular pottery made by Hull pottery around 1938. She treasured it, but never bought another piece. I think she liked it OK, but I never asked her why she didn’t look for another piece. The bud vases were decorated with calla lilies, tulips, thistles, or pinecones. Several pieces are getting more difficult to find. She loved tulips so that’s why I selected that pattern. It was not expensive and was sold in chain stores. Guess we were just too busy raising the family, and it wasn’t something that was a necessity like food and clothes and all the other bills that we had coming in. Yes, I still have that very first piece of Sueno tulip. My daughter Janelle took me to an auction when she was here, and I found my second piece. It has a matte finish with pastel colors in pink and blue. I guess that is how I got started collecting,” he said with a sparkle in his eye.
“What a story,” Myrna said.
The next day Myrna was sitting on the porch when a bright yellow convertible pulled into Charlie’s driveway. Myrna strained her eyes to see who it was, but didn’t recognize the tall woman who was wearing a straw hat and sunglasses. At least Myrna didn’t recognize her. The woman got out of the car and got a box out of the trunk. She went around to the back door.
“You whooo…Charlie,” she called out. “Are you ready to go?” It was a crisp fall day, a perfect day for an auction.
“Sure am. Hope we can find some bargains today,” he said getting into the convertible. As the mystery lady pulled out of the driveway, Myrna caught a glimpse of the name on the license plate. It read MARLA.
Wonder who she is? Myrna thought. Immediately she called her friend, Sue Ellen. “Guess what?”
“What now? Myrna I think you’re beginning to be a regular neighborhood gossip,” Sue Ellen said laughing.
“You’ll never guess in a million years,” Myrna blurted out. “I think Charlie’s got a girlfriend.”
“Oh, maybe she’s the real estate lady trying to get him to list his house,” Sue Ellen said. “What does she look like?”
“Well, I couldn’t tell. She was wearing a big hat and sun glasses. She carried a big box around to the back door. Probably more pottery,” she said laughing.
“Keep your eye peeled when they come back,” Sue Ellen said.
“Will do,” Myrna said. “Will do.”
Around six o’clock she heard a car drive in next door. Looking out the window, she saw the bright yellow convertible and the tall woman get out. They walked to the door carrying more boxes. Must have been another productive day, Myrna thought. Why would a real estate woman go to an auction with him she wondered. They carried the boxes into the house and came back out to get one more box. More pottery she assumed. Standing by the car, Charlie put his arms around her and kissed her.
“See you tomorrow, Hon,” he said.
Going immediately to the phone she called Sue Ellen, “Guess what? I think Charlie’s in love.”