Where does one begin when telling Mrs. McPherson’s story? When she and I first met it wasn’t her hat or her bright pink toe nails that drew me in to want to know more about her. There was something familiar about her that was more than the coincidence of Sunshine Valley Nursing Home.
Months after that Christmas day, I was visiting my dad, when I heard and an all too familiar chuckle coming out of the cafeteria. I popped my head in to see, it was Mrs. McPherson playing black jack with a bunch of other “Mrs. McPherson’s”. I tried to pop my head out quickly, as to not catch her eye, but failed at the task.
“Hey Missy, I remember you from Christmas. You’re visiting with your dad huh?" "Come over here and sit next to me, watch me whop these heffer’s at black jack.” I hesitantly did as she requested. I watched and listened as they played. They told stories of when they were young, the boys they dated, and the men they married. Many felt alone and forgotten, other’s felt overwhelmed by all the attention. But Mrs. McPherson’s story was the most exciting. She spoke of the the ‘good ole days and her popularity in the 60’s. She wore miniskirts, well hair sprayed hair, and flashy shoes. She was a sight for sore eyes back then she said.
“I was a model you know Missy”, she told me; “I was in all the magazines and even in a couple of movies, nothing big to most folks, but gigantic to me”.
“Haddy was just not a glamorous name for Hollywood Missy, so I went by Claire, just Claire, no last name needed with a name like Claire. Oh yes that’s right Missy, Claire was my name back then, a name that means famous and bright, like a star, like me!” When I was young, I went to parties, drank and smoked. It was the thing to do to get noticed in Hollywood.
Every time I went to visit my dad, I would visit her, but with each visit I noticed a change in her that I could never quite figure out. One day however, things got weird.
“Looking for Haddy?” the nurse asked, “she said you were taking her out for a nice long ride, check outside, she’s probably waiting for you there, have fun.”
Taking her for a ride? I went outside and found her sitting in my car with a cigarette in hand.
“Mrs. McPherson is everything ok?” I asked. She snarled back at me, “Honey, my name is Claire, just Claire and don’t you ever forget that. Don’t call me that name anymore Honey. Hollywood called; we’ve got to go now.”
I got into my car and drove off; I certainly wasn’t taking her to Hollywood, maybe to my boy Jake’s house. As I drove, Claire chain-smoked and drummed her nails on the dashboard. She sat very quietly, just staring out the window and smoking.
500 words based on a sentence selected by Dive