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"Exactly how bad can a mid-life crisis get?" #7
CHAPTER 7
By Daily Florence Posted in Grace, Uncategorized on May 22, 2022 0 Comments 14 min read
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CHAPTER 7

I

hate waiting. If you think about it, our whole lives are basically one big fat wait filled with a countless number of smaller waits in between.

I would even go as far as saying that waiting serves no real purpose whatsoever. That said, somehow, some way, humanity has evolved to the point where we consider the tolerance of waiting an admirable trait, leaving the rest of us with a legion of brain-dead flakes mingling amongst us. Flakes being the British word to describe a lazy person of perfectly sound mind who needs a good kick up the arse.

Identifying said flakes can be easily achieved, not by their birth date, but by their meaningful phrases which they post on social media to weed out other like-minded flakes so they can bond over their shared laziness. For instance:

“Patience is a virtue”

“All good things come to those who wait”

“All in good time”

“One step at a time”

Honestly, you should Google it. I reckon at least thirty per cent of Google’s brain power is made up of stupid quotes, just like that. Winds me right up.

Another great way to spot a flake is by their blog posts, in which they claim that their morning routine is their key to earning thousands of pounds for each video blog they publish. As if going against the laws of nature to follow their preset routine will reset the universe and you’ll be living like the Queen next week. The fact is, the only thing they’ve ever worked out is exactly how to play on everyone’s sad and get paid for it—so stop visiting their website and maybe they’d be just as average as the rest of us.

For example, they will have uploaded a video and in it claim, ‘When I wake up in the morning, I hold my mug for five minutes and stare at it and I say to myself, I am so, so grateful for this mug. My whole day just falls into place and I’m so successful because of it’.

ARLGH.

If you are not a flake, then I am sure that you will relate to the reality of my mid-life morning routine.

I rise out of bed—when I absolutely have to—and the first thing I say is ‘Fuck you, menopause’ as I stagger towards my medicine cabinet, just to let my menopause know that despite the fact I got no sleep and look like a wet seal, I’m about to reclaim my oestrogen levels whether Mother Nature likes it or not. Then I carefully hurl my HRT and other age-related medicines down my throat as I reach for my squirrel mug, which I hover in front of my face for a few moments, trying to decide if I’m going to wash it or risk it, and then go with the latter. About an hour later, after six coffees and some leftover pizza, I twitch into existence as I lie hunched over the arm of the couch, and then I open a single eye.

The fact of the matter is that’s the best morning routine I can muster at forty-nine, and, I assure you, being grateful for that pile of turd goes against everything my DNA stands for. The problem I have with receiving stupid advice about waking up is that a morning routine is nothing but a wait with a fancy name. Therefore, when someone gives me advice on waiting, as concept flakes everywhere simply do not understand, I get very, very mad.

I often feel I should start my own anti-waiting social media page and post my own meaningful phrases, so I can weed out the rest of the normal people from humanity and we can bond over time-wasters. If I did, my practical quotes would go like this:

“It’s okay if the doctor’s three hours behind, but if I turn up late …”

“All good things come to those who scurry.”

“You’d get things done faster if you … moved faster.”

“From the moment we’re born, we’re all just waiting to die.”

“Just bloody do it, for fuck’s sake.”

“Always pee immediately, you’ll regret it later on.”

“Elliot Paul, the journalist and author who died in 1958, was apparently quoted as saying ‘Patience makes women beautiful in middle age’. I would like to expand on this still widely-posted quote and say, ‘But now we have Botox and rights’.”

“Being impatient makes people-flakes do more work, whereas being patient means they’ll watch you do the work.”

“Wasting time being grateful for stupid shit means you’re unhappy, so do something that makes you happy rather than staring at a mug -like paintball with the neighbours, even if they don’t want to play it.”

“Queue jumping is a dying art.”

“Impatience is progress’s best friend.”

“Serial killers don’t procrastinate, so neither should you.”

“When you’re dead, everybody else is just going to carry on regardless, so keep that in mind when you’re giving way to traffic.”

“The more time you waste when you’re young, the sadder you’ll be in your nursing home.”

“Buddhists are fundamentally just lazy people who’ve mastered avoidance—avoid Buddhists.”

Feel free to quote me: Google will love you.

Needless to say, as you may have already gathered, I am not exactly the nicest person to be near when precious minutes of my life are passing me by.

‘How long has it been?’

‘Grace, shut up. This is bad enough without you whining about it.’

I glared at Gladys and gave it thirty seconds. ‘How about now?’

‘Grace, humbl blub himmm.’

I pulled a pile of foliage from my face and looked over my shoulder at Eric who was sat in the back seat of the old abandoned car in the Squirrel Reserve. ‘I don’t speak bush,’ I said with a snarl.

Eric scrambled to pull the twigs and leaves from his face. ‘I said, we just got here.’

I swung my head back around and looked out the windowless rust bucket of a car we were sat in. ‘Owch!’ I shouted.

‘Grace, will you please shut up! What the hell is wrong with you now?’

‘The twigs are digging in me. This is ridiculo—’

‘Sssh.’

I lowered my voice. ‘I said. This. Is. Ridiculous.’

Gladys ripped her bush costume away from her face and leant towards me. ‘This was your bloody idea.’

‘Yeah, so where are they?’

‘What do you expect, the squirrel thieves to just turn up because we’ve arrived?’

‘I mean, that would be convenient, woul—’

‘Now that is ridiculous.’

‘Both of you.’ Eric shot a hand out from his bush costume and gripped the rusty seat I was sat on. Gladys and I both wheezed as we turned our body bushes around to face him. ‘I have never felt so ill in my whole life,’ he said, ‘and yet here I am, dressed as a bush, in a Squirrel Reserve in the dead of night, in the back of a rusty old car, with you two, who won’t stop arguing. May I remind you that Amos and the others are in the tops of the trees counting on us. We are supposed to be the eyes and ears on the ground. We are not. We are three very uncomfortable bushes in an abandoned car arguing.’

Gladys and I covered our angry faces back up and turned back to face the front so we could sulk quietly. Eric was right but this certainly didn’t stop my brain from thinking about how much I was going to regret this in my nursing home.

Hours seemed to pass and nothing happened. Okay, so actually it was fifteen minutes but that was a record for me. As we looked out from the abandoned car and into the forest, we barely saw so much as a shake of a bush. A shimmer of moonlight highlighted the clearing in the woods, and all around us a thin, low-hanging mist swept through the black stillness of the forest floor. Occasionally, an owl would toot, causing all three of us to jolt and whimper in our badly thought out costumes.

Eventually, Gladys caved. ‘Okay, I can’t take any more, we need to talk, this is too boring,’ she whispered.

Eric leant forward. ‘Now you mention it, there is something I was going to say. We can’t let on anything about what happened at the seance to Amos and everyone at the Squirrel Reserve, okay?’

‘Why?’ Gladys said.

‘Because Columbo wouldn’t, would he?’

‘But it’s not like Amos and everyone here are stealing the squirrels, are they?’

‘But we don’t know right now, do we?’

‘I suppose,’ said Gladys.

‘Grace, what about you? Think we should keep quiet?’

‘I gotta pee.’

‘Can’t you hold it?’

‘Absolutely not, no way, not in any circumstance, forget it. I’ll be really quick.’

The car door crackled and creaked as I carefully edged it open and heaved my heavily foliaged body out of the car. Thankfully, coupled with my disguise and the darkness, I managed to find a spot not too far from the car. 

As I was walking back, I spent more time trying to keep my costume up rather than looking where I was going, meaning my foot slipped on the muddy ground below and I crashed to the ground. My immediate thought as my body, covered in a thousand twigs, was connecting with the haggard terrain below me, was that under no circumstances was I to make a noise. 

I felt a thousand pins stab me as I landed and slowly slid down a muddy path. When I did finally come to a standstill, I gripped my mouth and silently screamed in a contorted fetal position on the ground.

As I lay waiting for the pain to subside, I heard the creak of the car door and the voice of Eric approach me. ‘Grace, Grace, are you okay?’

I pulled a leaf from my eye, only to see Eric in his bush costume patting an empty bush to my left.

‘Eric,’ I said, whilst whimpering, ‘I’m here.’

‘Oh thank goodness, I heard a screech and thought that you’d fallen. Are you okay?’

‘I’m so sore, wait, Eric, a screech, no, I didn’t make a single sound, I was really careful.’

I sat bolt upright and Eric and I both turned our bushy heads to face the abandoned car. Inside, we could see Gladys—a pair of shiny white eyes peeping out from the driver’s seat looking back at us—and behind the car, approaching her driver’s door, an enormous black hairy figure. We both shot our hands out from our bush costumes and pointed at the evil hairy figure that was approaching her. 

Gladys saw our hands, turned to her driver’s side window and let out a scream. Her high-pitched wail carried through the forest, causing a scattering of squirrels from amidst the darkness and the evil hairy figure beside her to shoot back into the darkness.

By the time Eric and I had reached the car, Gladys had removed her bush costume and we found her sat in the front seat shaking.

‘Gladys, Gladys are you okay?’ I said as I rubbed her back.

‘No, no I am not! That scared the hell out of me.’

Amos, Miguel, Stevie and Lucy all appeared and gathered around Gladys. ‘Gladys, are you okay? What was it? Did you get a good look?’

‘No,’ Gladys said as she got out of the car. ‘Let’s go.’

As Gladys began to walk away she stumbled slightly, so I ran over and gripped her by the arm to steady her. ‘Gladys, please tell me you’re okay. Do you need a doctor?’

Eric supported Gladys by the other arm. ‘I can call a doctor for you.’

‘Absolutely not!’ Gladys snapped at us. ‘Under no circumstances am I going back to that hospital. Don’t even think about it.’

‘Okay, sorry, Gladys. We’re just worried about you, that’s all. Let’s go back.’

We said our goodbyes to the others and drove back to the lodge in complete silence. Eric pulled the mini-van up in the carpark and I turned to face Gladys who was sat in the back staring straight ahead. ‘Gladys, are you okay?’

Eric and I both studied Gladys’ face. The colour seemed to have drained from it, a blank expression engulfed her eyes, not helped one little bit by her enormous square glasses which were magnifying them.

‘Eric, is Gladys okay?’

‘I don’t think so … what shall we do?’

‘A doctor?’

Gladys contorted her face. ‘Don’t bloody think about it.’

‘Okay, sorry, just talk to us, please,’ Eric said.

‘Gladys, I am so sorry for getting you into this, I didn’t …’

Gladys gripped her fists together and lowered her voice. ‘Someone is winding us up.’

‘I’m sorry, what did you say?’

‘I said, someone is winding us up, because that is not possible.’ Gladys continued to stare blankly ahead but now her eyes had squinted and she began breathing heavily through her nose.

‘Okay, now you’re just scaring me. Just tell us,’ I said.

Gladys leant towards us. ‘When Amos and the others ran up to us, what did they say?’

Eric tapped his fingers together. ‘Em, something about cookies.’

‘No, Eric, for goodness sake.’

‘Em, are you okay?’ I said.

‘After that?’

I rubbed my chin. ‘Em, what was it? Did you get a good look?’

Eric gasped but I continued to rub my chin. ‘I don’t get it, tell me.’

‘They knew what I saw wasn’t human. Otherwise they would have said ‘Did you see who it was?’ not ‘What was it?’. Grace, what is the one thing that scares you the most?’

I gasped and covered my mouth. ‘Taxidermy.’

‘No, the other thing.’

‘Oh, hell no. Gorillas. Gladys, don’t tell me that was a gorilla and we were out in the open with it.’

Gladys pushed her glasses up her face with one finger and locked eyes with me. ‘That is exactly what I am telling you. I saw a six-foot … Grace, where is she?’

‘Say no more!’ I screamed as I hurtled into the lodge, ran to my bedroom and dived into my hammock. It would be 3 am that morning before I finally fell asleep; my mind felt like it was endlessly churning with gorillas, taxidermy and valerian sausages. We’d booked the trip of a lifetime but, truth be told, as I lay shaking in my hammock that night, I realised that I was in the middle of a full-on, mid-life meltdown.


GRACE – CONTENTS
CHAPTER 1 | CHAPTER 2 | CHAPTER 3 | CHAPTER 4 | CHAPTER 5 | CHAPTER 6 | CHAPTER 7 | CHAPTER 8 | CHAPTER 9 | CHAPTER 10 | CHAPTER 11


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