Her first visit was to Shirley, the self-appointed town gossip. As soon as Shirley spotted her walking in, she quickly hung up the phone. Who had she been talking to? And why hadn’t she wanted her conversation to be overheard?
Approaching Shirley’s desk, apologized, “You didn’t have to hang up just because of me. I only came over to gossip since business is slow today.”
“I was finishing up anyway. What can I help you with? Come sit with me on the couch.” She led Linda to the pretty flowered couch under the green-tinted front window, while she settled into the large matching armchair.
“Have you been invited to the party at End House on Friday night?” questioned Linda as she attempted to get comfortable in the mound of pillows scattered around her.
“No, of course not—only the young people of Oasis have been invited,” explained Shirley—as if this were obvious to everyone. She was looking down as she spoke…busy straightening her blouse and smoothing the pleats in her skirt. Shirley was always adjusting some piece of clothing. Even Shirley was giving vague answers to her straightforward questions.
“Why?” she prompted Shirley.
“Hank and I don’t fit in with the younger crowd….We’re too old and our spouses have already passed on.” As she spoke her shoulders began to droop, causing Linda to wonder if she did that on purpose just to appear older and frailer.
“Both of you look so young.”
“No. We’re in our seventies.”
Unnerved by this unexpected answer, Linda stood up and bid Shirley goodbye.