For those who don’t podcast, my recent bit of flash for R.B. Wood’s Wordcount Podcast (you can still listen here!):
“Why, Carolina Pritchard, those are the prettiest earrings I ever saw!”
Caro rarely found herself at the Piggly Wiggly before nine, but she’d been up since dawn. Cat vomit on her ex-husband’s pillow was surely a metaphor for something, but she wasn’t entirely certain she wanted to examine either the cat or the metaphor too closely.
Following a gag-worthy incident that ended in garbage-bagging Cort’s entire pillow, she’d slipped into compression leggings and her new Asics to run the four miles to the flower shop in the cool dampness of morning. She’d planned to put together some orders in peace before driving up to Charleston to meet a bride to discuss the arrangements.
(And then? Delicious plans for her evening in the city.)
Instead, she’d developed a craving for English muffins with peanut butter – neither of which were available to her in the small employee break room. And so, she found herself face-to-face with Bitsy Cornish at the checkout.
She pasted a sweet, blank smile on her face and resisted the urge to touch the two-carat emerald solitaires in her ears. “Thank you, Mrs. Cornish. Sweet of you to say.”
Bitsy Cornish had played golf with her ex-husband’s late mother for forty years. There was no mistaking the gleam of recognition in her sharp blue eyes. News of this quiet defiance would be halfway to Savannah by cocktail hour. Lantana Bluff had only in recent years forgiven her for stealing Cortney Liddell out from under its daughters’ noses; their divorce was still fresh scandal. Wearing Virginia Liddell’s emeralds to the Piggly Wiggly on a Thursday was high social treason.
“Bradley tells me Posey loves her riding lessons.”
Caro cringed. Bradley Cornish and Cort had been partners in crime from cradle to investment firm, by way of fraternity house, and Brad’s son Jack rode at the same stable their daughter Posey did. She wondered briefly if Brad was also screwing the stable owner in the hayloft during Jack’s lessons.
“She does, Mrs. Cornish.” Caro watched Bitsy unpack her basket onto the belt with a twinge of pity. Elizabeth Parnell Cornish was widowed — meaner than spit, feared throughout the county, and rich enough to have dinner at the club five nights a week, but alone — groceries for one at her age seemed sad no matter how you paid for them.
“Pity you two couldn’t make a go of it after all,” Bitsy clucked, handing a check to the teenaged cashier, who ran it through the printer and showed it to Mrs. Cornish with a deferential gesture. “Bradley and Meredith have always found a way to navigate rough waters.”
Caro’s pity dried up, replaced by a nasty impulse to tell Bitsy just exactly how Brad and Mere navigated things. “You’re right, Mrs. Cornish. Meredith is a delight, though.”
The older woman took her shopping from the bagger and gave Caro an appraising look. “You and Meredith still see one another since the… unpleasantness?” The look on the older woman’s face conveyed her opinion of her daughter-in-law’s friendships with frosty clarity.
“Every chance we get.” Caro smiled and plopped her muffins and Jiffy on the belt. Bitsy marched off with a sniff.
And she loves how I look in nothing but Virginia Liddell’s emeralds, Caro added silently, grinning at Bitsy’s retreating backside.