Betty couldn’t believe what Maxine had just whispered in her ear. “Say that again.”

Maxine leaned across the arm of her wheelchair, raised her hand to her mouth, leaned in close to Betty’s ear and repeated her statement.

Betty raised her hands to her mouth in a show of disbelief. Her eyes grew wide with amazement. “Are you sure? Because, Maxine, you can’t just say something like that and not be sure. How do you know this?”

Maxine raised her right hand as if taking an oath. The bracelets on her wrist jingled with the movement. The sleeve of her over-sized cardigan sweater slid halfway down her scrawny arm. “I swear on my dead husband Herman’s grave that it’s true.” Maxine lowered her hand and gazed around the room. There were about fifteen residents sitting around the rec room of the Shady Acres Retirement Home. Maxine and Betty were seated at the activities table working on a jigsaw puzzle. Others were reading, napping, or watching the television set in the corner. Maxine hoped that Betty wouldn’t tell the others what she had said.

Betty excused herself from the table and walked into the bathroom. She emerged in a few short minutes and headed toward Margaret. Betty leaned over and spoke into Margaret’s ear. Margaret reached up and adjusted the dial on her hearing aid. Squinting through her thick glasses and scrunching up her face, she said, “Say that again”.

Betty let out a big sigh, “The cook who makes soup is a sinner.”

“How do you know?”

“Maxine told me.”

Margaret adjusted the afghan on her lap. Rotating her head to the right, she saw Maxine hunched over the jigsaw puzzle. She rotated her head left and met the gaze of Ruth. “Psst, Ruth,” she hissed, “The cook is only making soup to make us thinner.”

Ruth smiled at Margaret, nodded, and wheeled her wheelchair out of the rec room, down the hall, and into the nurse’s station. “Nurse Courtney, I need a laxative.”

“Sure Ruth. Are you having some trouble going to the bathroom?”

“No trouble, but I want to go extra.”

Nurse Courtney walked from behind the nurse’s station and crouched down to be eye level with Ruth. “Why do you want to go extra Ruth?”

“Because the cook said if we poop it will make us thinner.”

“Is that right? Did Cook tell you this?”

“No. Margaret told me.”

“Let’s find out what Cook really said.”

All of the residents and staff of Shady Acres gathered in the rec room. Nurse Courtney asked Ruth to tell everyone what she had said at the nurse’s station. Ruth sat up straight in her chair. She cleared her throat and stated, “The book said that whoever closes the loop will be the winner.”

Nurse Courtney rolled her eyes and sighed. “That’s not what you said.”

“It’s what Margaret told me!”

“That’s not what I said!” Margaret yelled from across the room. “Besides, I was only telling you what Betty told me.”

Maxine’s head snapped up from her jigsaw puzzle. “Betty! That’s not what I said! I said the cook is making soup for dinner tonight. It was supposed to be a surprise. You got everyone in an uproar for nothing. I hope you all have learned your lesson.”

Betty raised her hand to her mouth, wrinkled her nose, and began to snicker. “Sorry everyone. No more gossiping for me.” And to Cook, “Sorry I ruined your surprise.”

“It’s okay, Betty,” said Cook. “I forgive you.”

“Me too,” said Margaret. “No more gossiping.”

“No promises,” said Ruth. “But I will try.”

The Waynedale News Staff
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Mary Kay Graves

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