How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE

#BlogBattle – Week 60


BlogBattlersBadgePrompt: Duplicitous 

Genre: Contemporary

smashed-879876_960_720 Pixaby no attribution reqd


“It was home—old and decrepit—but ours. Every nut and bolt. We stayed on when Frankie had to quit the mine ten years earlier. It was rheumatoid arthritis in his hands and feet. He had trouble holding a coffee mug—I stopped pouring him a full cup. No need for him spilling it and burning himself, right? He wanted n0 help—had to do it himself. You can’t blame a man for that, can you? Then we found out he had chronic silicosis from the mine. The house went downhill after that.

“I was raised in this little house and barely finished high school when my parents decided to visit Niagara Falls—they’d never had a honeymoon, you see. Well, they never made it home. Some crack-up on the highway, a huge pile up of cars and them in the middle of the wreckage. No. I won’t talk about it even after all these years. I have outlived them by more than double their lives, but it still hurts. You know. Lucky for me, Frankie kept showing up to help in the garden and looked after things needing to be repaired. We knew each other since first grade but were never friends or anything. Till…

“We married not long after—him my best friend from day one. Of course, he moved to my house afterwards. Where else would we live? The smell of that lake is in every pore of my being. I have to see it every day and wonder if I’d know how to breathe without it. Frankie had already hired on at the mine after high school. With experience under his belt, he soon enjoyed the position of drift foreman. Then the arthritis began in his forties, and wore him down. The damp underground didn’t help either. A few years later, he couldn’t trust his hands and walking hurt—even standing took work.

“The kids were grown and gone to the city by then. No opportunities in this little village. Anyway, young people want to leave home, don’t they? My son became a school principal with two kids already in the workforce, and my daughter, a textile designer, had twins finishing university. The young people came to visit every summer and loved the clean air and quiet, the only noise the echoing croak of ravens especially when the city kids wanted to sleep in.”

“Excuse me. The snack cart is here. Do you want anything?” Needles stopped clacking. The rattle of glasses and wobbling rubber wheels clanked outside the doorway. The talking woman waved the question away.

“We were satisfied with a simple life, food on the table and a dry place to sleep. A warm and safe place to raise our kids, you know?  Small comforts, not greed.

“The vultures in polished shoes descended from whatever high tower in a big city. Their offer, distasteful and arrogant, broke Frankie’s heart. It was hurtful and insulting. What did these suited— so young— know about real life? Those duplicitous, land-hungry, double-dealing shysters wanted to raze our homes to build what on our lakefront property? A huge retirement home on the water, they said. Ha. I believed not a word. My money’s on a casino so they can steal more cash from unfortunates and a hotel to keep them here until they’re sucked dry.

Where were we supposed to go, Frankie and me? Him with his disability check and me who’d waitressed only that one summer before we got pregnant. I had another three months to wait before the old age pension kicked in, not enough money between us to move to the city where everything cost a mortgage.

“Some days worse than others, my Frankie in constant pain, didn’t need their harassment. Where on God’s green acre were we to live our remaining years? The neighbours called a meeting in the Legion Hall. We swore to stick together and not give in. Every day someone showed up knocking on our doors. Talking-talking. Got so bad we shut our windows and doors. Can you believe they stood outside and jabbered on and on because they knew we still heard them from inside? Then they called a meeting at the Legion where we hollered no-no just-go.

Mrs. Stirling died from the constant pressure, I’m sure, her a widow since her husband died in the mine years before. Her kids sold the house faster than you can snap your fingers. Guess they’d rather erase their memories of home. Why had they not considered preserving the house for their own retirement like a few of their generation? Everything they needed for a good life was here—boating, fishing, swimming, friends. The perfect retirement community without huge costs and low property taxes. True you had to drive 20 minutes to the next town for most necessities, farther if you needed bigger items. In the beginning, we’d had two wonderful grocers, but no more. Diminishing returns, you know as the population moved away.


We didn’t need much after Frankie had to retire early. The mine closed a couple years later —the gold mined out, you see. Small businesses moved out as did inhabitants.

“One by one, the neighbours gave in to the fast-talking robots in dark, gleaming suits. None of them young anymore, sick with age or injuries from the mine, living on disability, needing money to make ends meet.

It was the pain that killed Frankie and the silicosis robbed him of breath. I knew he wanted to die and I came this close to helping. As always, he saved me from the decision though we’d agreed upon a plan. Always thoughtful to the end. Lost without him, I thought I’d perish, wishing I would. It was as if someone had ripped out my heart.

“My kids and grandchildren left for the drum and hum of Toronto and Montreal after the funeral and I was alone. Yes, they had begged I come live with them, half the time with my daughter and half with my son. Not for me I told them. I have my house and a few friends. Though Frankie and I visited both our  children years before, we hated the noise, too many cars, and the awful pollution. Everything rush-rush, honk-honk. No way—forget it.

“Didn’t those city boys come calling again knowing I’d just lost my Frankie. This time, they sent a woman to wear me down. I’d talked to my son, but he held no faith with my holding out forever. There were only three of us left and I wasn’t about to be next to throw in the towel. I told the shellacked, skinny-butt female no way was I leaving the only home I had ever known. Is this what I’d lived my whole life for? To be forced—forced—out of the home I’d made, to land in some strange somewhere for my retirement. Not right, I said. She didn’t budge. A tough cookie, this one. Is this a good job for a woman, wearing down old men and women? Widows? Widowers? Sick people? Me?

“Two weeks after Frankie’s funeral there were only two of us standing fast. That’s when it happened. I saw the shiny new Bentley or was it a Mercedes—doesn’t matter—cruise up the road. In my haste, I fell and broke my hip inside the door. Maryjane, the long-time widow across the road, heard me scream. I must have passed and remember nothing. She called the doctor and we had to wait 30 minutes for the ambulance she said. We don’t have an ambulance service in our village, you see.

“I haven’t been home since the accident. Nobody will tell me anything about my house or if the last neighbour gave in. Pneumonia is killing me and I am still in a plaster. My children don’t visit. It’s like I’m dead already, except for the pain. I have no idea where I am or what place this is.”

“Not true, Mom. I visit every day and Paul flies in as often as his work allows.”

The silver-streaked head stirred towards the voice. “Who are you talking to? There’s nobody here but me.”

The younger, blonde woman sprang up, dropping knitting to the floor.  “Mom, I’ve told you many times, we never abandoned you. I had you transferred to Toronto as soon as medical staff allowed, to have you close, to visit you daily.”

“Who are you? Nurse. I want to call my daughter.” The woman’s voice lowered to a whisper, her stare painful, and eyes damp.

The End

Rules of the Battle

  1. 1500 wordsmax (effective May 2016)
  2. fictionaltale (or true if you really want)
  3. PG (no more than PG-13Content – let’s keep this family friendly!
  4. Your story must contain the word(s) from the theme and/or be centered aroundthe theme in a way that shows it is clearly related.
  5. State theGenre of your story at the top/bottom of your post.
  6. Post your stories on the 2nd & 4th Tuesday of the month, by 11:59 PM PST
  7. Go for theentertainment value!
  8. Put a link back to your #BlogBattle Short Story in the comments section, and/or include a link to a battle post (not a page) in your own blog post (it creates a “ping-back” which will alert me and our friends to your #BlogBattle post).
  9. Use the hashtag#BlogBattle when tweeting your story.
  10. Let us know if you have a Facebook author/writer page so we can LIKE it to stay connected.
  11. Have fun! Check it out at

The poll for voting will be added the Wednesdays after the Tuesday Story Posts. You’ll have until the Monday prior to the Next Story Tuesday to read the submitted stories & vote for your top three. That gives you two to three weeks to read and vote! Please consider the expert use of the theme word when choosing.

The Winner and the next theme word will be announced the following day, on Wednesday.

* * *

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.

For More #BlogBattle stories, check out the tab above



Author: Let's CUT the Crap!

I'm getting a little LONG in the tooth and have things to say about---ouch---AGEing. I believe it's certainly a state of mind but sometimes it's nice to hear that you're NORMAL. I enjoy reading by the truckload. I'm a grandma but I don't feel OLD although I'm not so young anymore. My plan is to stick it out as long as I can on this lovely planet and only will leave it kicking and screaming!

76 thoughts on “#BlogBattle – Week 60

  1. Tess, this is one of the saddest stories your’ve written. I got caught up in the struggle and bravery of the last ones standing! As usual the twist at the end was there! You are so good at that! Very good writing, my friend! 💛 Elizabeth

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is heart-breaking, I can just see that poor lady watching her husband fade and her lifestyle being pulled out from under her. Very good, but very sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A sensitive, deeply felt story, Tess, well told. Heart breaking and true in so many ways. My favorite lines:
    The smell of that lake is in every pore of my being. I have to see it every day and wonder if I’d know how to breathe without it.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Emotional, and sensitive,,, buut ost of all very well writte ad draws the reader along.. I do love your styyle Tess.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautifully done, Tess. I hope you’re doing well. Mega hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. How sad, Tess. ❤ ❤


  7. Beautifully written and filled with heartbreak, and lots of deep emotion.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. So good, Tess. I loved the POV on this one. The quick changes were terrific. Eyes damp indeed.


  9. Pingback: #BlogBattle 60 “Duplicitous” Entries & Voting | BlogBattle

  10. Gee that’s heartbreaking. And so familiar. Not me, but I know people… Thanks for this heart-felt story, Tess.


    • I’m pleased you enjoyed this story. I knew it would be sad and I blame it on the prompt word: duplicitous. 🙂
      True, bad things happen to good people and I hate when it does when they are defenseless.


  11. Tess, this story was more than a story, it was an emoting of pain, but it was excellent, if heart-wrenching. Enjoyed and shared.


  12. Oh my heavens Tess it’s such a sad story. As always with your writing I couldn’t read fast enough. So drawn in to the heartache of it all. A brilliant piece and ever so heart wrenching.


  13. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Tess is back into her wonderful fiction mode with this story that will make you think about where you are in the scale of things. As always a terrific story. thanks Tess.


  14. For those of us who have lived through a version of this with our parents, this is very sad indeed.
    Beautifully written Tess. You captured it so well.


  15. A beautifully crafted story Tess. So sad, and true for many seniors these days with the change in demographics and lack of services for seniors. A nice twist, although melancholy ending. 🙂


  16. Heartbreaking but I was totally in the story. Beautifully done, Tess ❤


  17. Sad story beautifully written.


  18. You always have me riveted with your stories, Tess and this one was no exception. How very sad it was, though. I can really picture this poor old lady who has now lost everything.


  19. This has got to be your best story yet and rings so true. Makes me think of my mom in some ways. Well done.


  20. I was sitting there listening to her…… and my heart broke the whole story through.


  21. That was beautiful, but so sad… it hit something of a personal chord with me, having lost two family members to Alzheimer. Still, it was a lovely read, I really enjoyed it. And if I pecked away a tear or two… we won’t mention that 😉


  22. I swear someone’s been cutting onions up in here…..
    beautifully written….. now if you don’t mind me I will go find a comedy to read *sigh*


  23. Well, damn, Tess. Cut my heart out, slap it on the counter, and beat it with a mallet. Wow. Just… wow. Well done. This is beautiful.


  24. So real… Your words ripped apart my heart… So well written, Tess xx


  25. Oh, Tess–this made me cry, and that doesn’t often happen. Well done.


  26. Yes, very sad, and I think it probably will make most of us think of somebody. Beautifully written.


  27. This is so beautiful, you have excelled. I am deeply touched. xxxx


  28. I’ve been in an out of blog world for a few months. Somehow I’ve lost you. Just re-subscribed. 😦
    Thank you, Willow. (( ❤ )) You are too kind, but I do appreciate you kind word. So glad you enjoyed the read.


  29. Oh, this was heartbreaking. Had me in tears by the end, which is quite an achievement!


  30. Such a sad story, and well written, Tess. ❤ nice use of duplicitous!


  31. Thank YOU! The prompt word is to blame for the sadness of this story. Glad you liked it, though. ❤


  32. Wow, good story. It reminded me of MY fears for the future. Very real to life story, but sadly, it happens all the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Oh, this is heartbreaking and happens so often. Hope I am lucky enough to die in time.


  34. I hope the same for all of us. Thank you, Linda. ❤ ❤


  35. You are such a story weaver, dear Tess. Broke my heart, but I love that her daughter was right there the whole time ❤

    Liked by 1 person

Some things in life are complicated. Let's keep it simple.

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