Reluctantly, Jacqui dragged herself out of bed. She hadn’t slept at all well. She had gone to bed the previous evening with a rotten summer cold developing and threatening to overwhelm her; even the brandy and hot milk, her go-to remedy on these occasions, hadn’t helped at all. To cap it all, just before four in the morning, her faithful companion for more than nine years, her little Jack Russell, had decided that whatever he had eaten in the garden during the evening would serve him better all over Jacqui’s bedclothes than inside his stomach.
As if that wasn’t enough, today was the day she had decided to invite some of her friends around for a crafting session.
Just before ten, her little dog erupted into a frenzy of yapping, signifying that someone had had the temerity to come to her door. It was Juliette, the first of her friends to arrive. The other three turned up at intervals over the following half-hour or so.
These were good friends, kind, giving, supportive friends, the sort of friends she could rely on to rally round whenever there was any kind of emergency, and who could rely on her to do the same. After some minutes of oohing and aahing and ‘you should have called us to cancel, if you’re not feeling well; we would have understood‘-ing, the group settled down to a few hours of making cards, costume jewellery and all manner of trinkets, each bringing her own special set of skills to the table.
Jacqui was seldom happier than when surrounded by her small clan of friends, and had every expectation that this tight-knit group would go on for ever. They all did. Until, that is, Betty dropped the bombshell that she and her husband were planning to leave the area and return to their roots.
That news was met with stunned silence. All eyes were fixed on Betty, and they weren’t kindly eyes.
“Isn’t anyone going to say anything?” Betty finally asked.
“What is there to say?” Jacqui demanded, “You come in here, in the middle of a really nice day’s crafting, and calmly announce that you’re leaving.”
“And you don’t even say why,” Juliette added, “and don’t give us that garbage about returning to your roots, ‘cos we don’t buy it. What’s really going on, eh, Betty? What?”
“It’s true,” Betty said, leaning back in her chair and rubbing the back of her neck, “we want to be closer to our families, so we can see them more often and watch the little ones grow up.”
Isabelle turned toward her and pointed an accusing finger. “Who was there when you had that trouble last year, eh? Them or us?” she asked, “Where were they when you really needed them? Nowhere to be seen. That’s when you know who your real friends are; but if you’re prepared to turn your back on all that, on everything we have meant to each other, everything we have done for each other, suffering and rejoicing together, then up yours. I want nothing more to do with you.”
“Steady, Issy,” Jacqui said, “perhaps she has a point. I miss my family, too; we all do.”
“But we don’t all abandon ship on a sentimental whim like that,” Issy hissed, “we stick together. That’s what friends do. But if you’re going to take her side, then count me out. Anyone else feel the same?”
Silence. No-one moved.
“Okay, if that’s how you feel,” Issy said; and with that, she picked up her work and stormed out of the door. Betty started to cry, hiding her face behind her hands with embarrassment. Jacqui, Juliette and Annette comforted her as best they could, but it was clear that no more crafting would happen that day.
Suddenly, Betty’s face cleared. She looked up, beaming.
“That worked,” she said.
“What d’you mean?” Jacqui asked.
“I’ve seen how Issy has been trying to take over the group for a while, now. I’m not going anywhere, but I had to do something to stop her. Good riddance, I say.”
“Maybe you’re right, Betty,” Juliette said, “I hadn’t noticed, but now you mention it, Issy is rather controlling, and she does always steer us to doing what she wants, instead of what we had planned. I’m sure we’ve all had enough of her ‘Issy fits’.”
The three others nodded in agreement.
Jacqui shook her head and smiled. The day hadn’t started well, but it had certainly ended with a bang.
This week's challenge at esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com asked for a story ending with the words, "She shook her head and smiled. The day hadn't started well, but it had certainly ended with a bang."