Ivy Becomes a Crone
By Liz Betz
Wine glasses in hand, they toast the cell phone camera, that the waitress agreed to operate. The moment is worthy for social media.
“I’ll post it now. No time like a…thap.” Michele says.
It’s been a long time since Ivy’s heard that lisp, and she doesn’t remember Ariel’s mole so it might be new. There is a ripening cold sore on Beth’s upper lip. Ivy remembers how the teenaged Beth suffered regular outbreaks. Ivy’s own skin irregularities stopped about the same time as menopause.
Ivy Thompson looks at her friends; older women with their charade of light heartedness. Any traces of their tears or the somber tone at the funeral reception is underground for a moment. She raises the wine glass and drinks deeply and watches the waitress avoid the pat, slap or pinch a male patron aims at her bottom. She mock scolds with a raised finger. Her smile says she’s in favor of tips but there are limits. Stymied of his bit of fun, the man looks over at Ivy’s table to ask ‘who let the dogs out?’
Not dogs or bitches, Ivy wants to say, we are crones. A group of crones is a coven, no, that’s witches. A group of older women is…Ivy pauses… a force. A force about to be unleashed.
She’s the youngest at sixty-three, the little sister not allowed in the gang until after they became adults. All of the women are retired, several widows, one divorcee and one never married. Time on their hands. What else are they willing to have on their hands?
The big screen features helmets and faces and bodies ready to tackle, the volume high for the sport loving patrons. When the quarterback is sacked, the men punch the air and cheer.
In Ivy’s huddle the women talk of Maggie-Mae’s high-school years and the memories, while Ivy concludes that they are the ones to do this. But will the others see it the same as her? Even if she has one ally and the rest turn a blind eye. An involuntary shudder runs down her spine. There’s a lot of risk but surely there is enough love to balance it. They all loved Maggie-Mae. Which means they should all hate the man who drove her to her death, sure as if he’d used a bullet.
Ivy clears her throat. “You know what we should do?”
“Order more wine.” Michele signals the waitress. The background music is louder and the crowd has doubled since the women began their evening. Young people, predominately male, fresh from a rec hockey perhaps, are all tuned into the big screens that dominate the upper corners. It’s hard to talk over the noise. The next thing, Ivy worries, is that the group might call it a night. Tomorrow they will be back in their own lives, trying to forget Maggie-Mae’s suicide.
“What we should do…” Ivy says loud enough that they all look at her. Then she signals them to lean in and listen. “is keep our collective eyes on the bastard.”
None of the women responds although they exchange puzzled looks of disbelief. She has their attention. “He’s active online. Very active. At some point he’ll slip up. Maybe brag to one of our fake profiles, he doesn’t respect women or the law.”
Ivy rushes to her next idea. “Or we could harass him. Use public access computers so the IP address isn’t your own. Each of us take a quota of two or three times a month. See what happens after a year of bullying.”
The women watch the waitress come to their table as they consider the implications. “Bring us a bottle of this.” Ariel says before she takes a huge swallow of her wine.
“This is wrong, Ivy. I know Maggie-Mae had it rough, and maybe she was driven to taking her own life but,” Ariel lowers her voice even more, “you’re talking about cyber-stalking.”
“Technically, yes, but,” Ivy stumbles onward. “I couldn’t make it right for my sister while she was alive. Do you know how often Maggie-Mae filed a complaint? How many times the bastard fooled anyone who tried to intervene? How many times she phoned me, bawling her eyes out?”
Recognition leaps between them. Everyone at the table received those calls.
“But what you’re talking about is criminal.”
“That’s why we have to be careful, but we could do this. Who’s going to make the connection between us? You’re in Toronto, I’m in Saskatoon, Ariel, in Phoenix, Arizona.”
Ivy looks at them; is the idea gaining ground?
“We gather information and turn it over to the police. Anonymously. He’s already taken up with another woman. He’s going to continue.” Ivy chews her lip and takes a deep breath, “Maybe next time it will be your sister.”
The referee on the screen announces the first down; the women are momentarily silent.
“No. Not maybe. Every woman is our sister.” Strong true words.
Ivy clasps her hand over her face to stifle a sob.
“We could break him. Teach him the power of women.” A crone call to arms.
Then the bar explodes with cheers. The TV cameras pan the crowded stadium as the underdog team celebrates a touchdown.
Liz Betz is a retired rancher who loves to write fiction. Her pastime seems to help her days go by, her brain to stay active and sometimes keeps her out of trouble. An overactive imagination is a wonderful thing to harness, but left alone…Her publication credits are many and varied as she explores the fictional world of mostly somewhat older but not necessarily mature characters.
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