I am trying something new here. It may be a total flop and I am okay with that. The process of growing into a writer is both scary and uncharted for me. I have a small niche carved out in the devotional world (with 2 books on Amazon now), but I would like to dabble in the fiction world too. In order to do that and still keep all the plates spinning in the air, I thought I would share a fun short story with you. I have no idea where this story is going to go, but won’t it be fun to figure that out together? Now please note that this is all raw and sans editor. I am a writer, a creator of stories. The refinement process is a weak spot in my armor and I can only improve with time. So to all you grammar police out there, forgive me. I am a work in progress. Please enjoy some unrefined story telling, warts and all.
Without further ado, I bring you part one of Letters to Bea.
Maggie sat at her desk with pen in hand. She stared down at the wrinkled appendages that had created so much in her lifetime. At 84, they were weathered and veiny. She had spent so many years up to her elbows in wet clay, shaping so many wonderful creations that all started out the same; a lump of cold, wet, grey clay. The end result was never fully envisioned in the beginning, but as each piece swirled around and around on the wheel, the specifics started becoming clear. She sat and reminisced in her mind about the joy that bloomed in her soul each time she put her hands on the blob in the middle of the wheel. She would slip wet hands on its silky surface and tune into its destiny. Like a figure appearing out of fog, the details would appear roughly and then with more precision with each passing minute.
This was her time with God too. She had heard him speak so clearly through her work. She herself felt like that clay in His hands. She felt loved and cared for as if He were shaping her with each trip around the sun. Her years were many now, but he was still shaping her. These days, she wondered when he would take her of the wheel of life and declare her a finished piece. She was tired and lonely. Her husband has been gone 5 years now and life still felt like it was lacking. She missed him so much at times she found herself crying in her daydreams and asking God to take her home. She wanted to be at the pearly gates with Jack to greet her. She spent hours it seemed each day fantasizing about their reunion. Why was she still here? What on Earth could God possibly have for her to do still in her advanced age?
She was still fairly active, she lived on her own and had a steady routine week in and week out, but her vitality was nothing compared to that of her prime. She fought the urge to be submerged in the days gone by. Remembering her entire life felt like a movie scrolled out across her mind. It seemed to happen a lot these days whenever she wrote to her best friend. They may live on opposite sides of the country, but that didn’t stop them from corresponding weekly. Sure they could call or FaceTime with each other (if there was a grandchild nearby to help), but there was something timeless about letters. There was something special about holding the same paper―a connection that the phone or other forms of technology just couldn’t give.
She put pen to paper and before she knew it, Maggie was back in time. It was September of 1940 when she met her best friend who would prove to be her greatest ally in this life. Beatrice, or Bea as she liked to be called, was everything that Maggie was not. She was brave, funny, and outgoing. I guess she had to be when she was always having to be the new kid. Bea was an Army Brat. Her dad was a veteran of World War 1 and had recently been stationed in their town. Bea came into third grade with high spirits and confidence to spare. Maggie, or Margaret as she was known in the days before Bea, was taken by her immediately.
Their friendship started over a game of marbles at recess. Margaret, Bea, and Robbie were all playing a rousing game that Robbie was winning by a long shot. He pointed his shooter, stuck his tongue out and shot his marble at the last two in the circle. His green shooter clacked against both marbles with professional precision. He scooped up his winnings and began putting them all in his pouch.
“Hey! You can’t do that. We didn’t say keepsies,” Margaret whined.
“Sure we did. Don’t you remember?” Robbie said slyly as he gave her a sheepish smile. Robbie knew that Margaret liked him and he was using that to his advantage.
“Now wait a minute,” Bea chimed in looking at Robbie, “We did not call keepsies. We only called ‘no quitsies,’ which was your idea. Now give her back her marbles!”
He knew full well that they didn’t call keepsies, but Margaret had a Devil’s Eye marble that Robbie had wanted to get his hands on since last school year. He had his chance now if dumb ol’ New Girl would just keep her mouth shut. Who did she think she was just waltzing in here and bossing him around? He stared her down for a minute trying to decide if he could bully his way into getting that marble. She stared back with a stone-cold expression. With two older brothers, Bea was not intimidated by this boy who she knew was trying to pull one over on her and this other girl. She glanced to her right to see Margaret looking down and fiddling with the four marbles she had won in the game. She was so small and mousy. Bea knew that if she didn’t stand up to this boy, this wet noodle of a girl would soon lose her entire marble collection.
Bea crossed her arms as if to emphasize her position in this standoff and gave a little harrumph to urge him to concede. It worked.
“Okay…Here you go, Mar-ga-RET” Robbie said with a defeated tone as he rolled his eyes. He tossed the marbles back to Margaret and she quietly put them in her pouch―never looking back up at him. Robbie walked away mumbling something about the new girl being a bossy britches.
Bea turned to Margaret and helped her put her marbles back in her pouch. As she scooped up her own she said, “You can’t let him bully you like that. He was trying to cheat you out of your best marbles.”
“I know, I just…well, he’s…I’ve known him a long time. He knows how to get under my skin, that’s all.”
“No one says you have to let him stay there. Next time, tell him to kiss off!”
Margaret blushed at the brash way she said that adult phrase with such mature air. It also made her giggle at the thought of telling Robbie Jones to kiss off. She looked up at Bea and asked, “So, what’s your name anyway?”
“Beatrice Elanor Wadell, but I like to be called Bea. And I already heard Robbie say your name is Margaret. Have you always gone by Mar-ga-RET?”
“Yeah…well, Margaret. Only Robbie says it like that. He knows it bugs me.”
“What about Maggie? It’s a nickname for Margaret and it fits you.”
With that a new identity was born for Margaret. She took to the nickname―and to Bea―like a moth to a flame. That day started the greatest of adventures for Maggie. She hoped that some of Bea’s tenacity would rub off on her. With Bea by her side, she could do almost anything!
Bea decided right then and there to be friends with Maggie for life. Moving around every few years had already gotten old at the tender age of 10. She knew that she was going to need a consistent ally if she was ever going to keep up this tough-girl act. Oh, sure on the outside she was confident and outgoing, but inside―each time they made a new city their home―her stomach did flips at the idea of having to be the new girl―again. At least this time, her new best friend had come along the first day of school. Maggie was desperate for a real friend, Bea could see that the moment she started playing marbles with her and that nasty boy, Robbie. She swore in her heart that she would protect Maggie from boys like that. Maggie needed someone like Bea in her life and Bea was all too happy to accommodate.