Invisible - Part 9

Continued from Part 8

Part 9: Meetings

Margaret leads Mac up onto a wraparound front porch, and unlocks the front door. Stepping aside, she lets him enter before her.

Mac sets down his bag and looks around. "Wow, Maggie!" he exclaims as he takes in the huge space, "This place is fantastic!"

The foyer is as big as the living room was in his shared house in LA. On the floor, large black and white tiles, some broken, form a checkerboard pattern. There's a hallway leading to the back of the big house and a massive staircase curves up to the second floor. The ceiling high above is cracked.

To his right, he sees a large room, the living room, he guesses, though somehow it doesn't look like it's used much. The furniture is on the faded side. There are tall windows looking out on an overgrown garden. 

Off the left of the foyer is a smaller room, lined with bookshelves and furnished with two cracked leather chairs facing a fireplace. This room is more inviting.

"Thank you. But it's old and getting a little tired, much like me," Margaret jokes. "But as you can no doubt tell, it needs work. That's where you come in."

Mac laughs and turns to her. "Old and tired are about the last words I'd use to describe you, Mags.”

“I’m having a good day. You should see me on my not-so-good days.”

“Well, you sure look good to me.” Shaking his head, he reaches out and pulls her to him. "I've wanted to do this since you threw yourself at me in the bookstore," he murmurs, and kisses her.

She pushes him away and punches his arm playfully. "Oh, I did not throw myself at you!" she says with fake indignation. "Well, okay, maybe I did, sort of. But you were to one who left me alone and broken-hearted when you climbed on that bus all those years ago."

She turns toward the staircase, and says, "Come on; let's get you settled. Then you can help me put together a dinner for the folks. I'll explain everything tonight."


After everyone is seated at the kitchen table, Margaret sets out platters of sliced deli meats and cheese, salads, and breads. Mac pours some wine from the bottle of Chianti he’d opened earlier. Helping themselves to the food, the group chats and gets to know each other better.

“I’m sorry this isn’t fancier,” Margaret apologizes, “but I don’t cook much anymore.”

“Not to worry,” Milo says, slipping a slice of roast beef to Mooch who waits patiently at his side.  “We seldom eat fancy, do we Moochie? When I lost Em, I lost the will to eat much.”

Looking up from the ham and cheese sandwich he is building, Mac comments, “Fancy gets old, let me tell you. During my time in LA, I jumped at the chance to attend every dinner with the glitterati that I could wangle an invite to. Sure, I made a meager living working odd jobs, but living in LA is expensive, and money for food sometimes scarce. But, man, did I get tired of the pretentious dinners.” 

He spears a pickle, and says, “This is more my style. But,” he adds, winking at Margaret, “I can cook. I can cook pretty damn well, if I do say so myself.”

Margaret grins at him. “Now you tell me!”

“I’m surprised you don’t find this kitchen inspirational," Miriam says, looking around. “I can cook pretty well, too,” she adds. “I took some cooking classes when I was married, not that that Brad ever noticed or appreciated my efforts. Now that he’s gone, I just can’t drum up the enthusiasm to cook for myself.” Unconsciously lifting her hand to her cheek, she says, “I don’t entertain, because… you know.”

 “Well, this is probably a good time to tell you what my big idea is, and why it’s so important to me,” Margaret says. “This is hard for me, but I’ve got to say it. No, don’t stop eating.  You eat your dinner, and I’ll talk.”

Pausing, Margaret takes a sip of wine, and continues. “Have you read any of the stuff they’re publishing about communal living? Apparently, people who live alone tend to be depressed, but thrive when they live among others. Well, I’ll be honest. I’m lonely rattling around this big old ark of a house alone. When I was working, it wasn’t so bad, but now that I can’t work anymore, I’m going crazy here.”

Encouraged by the nodding heads she sees in front of her, she goes on. “I don’t want to move. I inherited this old place from my grandparents. But it occurred to me, all this space is wasted. So, I want to turn this house into a communal home.”

“Wow, that sounds ambitious,” Max says. “But where do we come in?”

“Like I said at the bookstore, I need help,” Margaret replies. “I mean, I really need help. Not only can I not handle the reno needed on the house…”

“Hold on,” Mac interrupts. “Yes, the house needs work. But, hey, so do I. I think it’s a great idea. I’d love to help you get this place in shape…if I can be your first resident.”

Margaret smiles warmly at him. “Thank you, Mac. I was hoping you would say that. Your return to Middleburg couldn’t have been timed better.”

She looks at Miriam and Milo and takes a deep breath. “I know how abrupt this must seem but believe me. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. You are both good friends, and we get along well.” She nods at Mac, grinning. “And I think he’s harmless.  So, what about it? You’re both living alone. Would you have any interest in some new digs, in helping me create my new little family?”

“I’ve been living above the bookstore since Emmaline died,” Milo says. ‘Let me think about it. I might be interested, if the rent’s not too high.” He puts his hand on Mooch’s head, which is resting in his lap. “And if Moochie here can be my roommate.”

“Of course, Mooch can come.”

She looks at Miriam and raises her eyebrows in question.

“I don’t know. I mean…” She starts to put her hand over the scar but pulls it down into her lap instead.

Milo reaches over and puts his hand on Miriam’s shoulder. “You are not your scar, Miriam. We don’t see the scar. We see our friend.” He looks at the others, who nod in agreement.

“But I don’t see what I have to offer. I can’t help with the renovation. I wouldn’t know a hammer from a haddock,” she says.

“But you can cook,” Margaret reminds her. “We’ll all take turns in the kitchen, but I’m sure the others would appreciate something better than what the rest of us can prepare.” She waves her hand across the remnants of the deli meal on the table.

Ahem. Did I not tell you I can cook?” Mac says with a huff. Then he smiles at Miriam. “I promise I will help. We can even cook together. It will be fun!”

Miriam’s face lifts into her lopsided smile. “Okay. I’m in. “

Margaret claps her hands together. “Great! Now let’s have dessert. But there’s one thing more you should know…  I have Alzheimer’s.”


As he does every day, Milo drives home for lunch, Mooch at his side in the passenger seat. His stomach growls in anticipation as he turns into Emerson Lane. He wonders what Miriam has made today. Pulling into the driveway, he sees Miriam sitting on a porch swing reading. On the swing across from her are Margaret, Mac beside her holding her hand. Above them, the porch fan Mac installed turns lazily. Summer heat has come early this year. Miriam's garden is in full bloom.

Milo climbs from the car and Mooch darts past him. The dog runs to the porch, smiling, eager to greet his friends. Milo follows, leans down to kiss Miriam, then joins his wife in the swing.

“I brought the latest Architectural Digest,” he says. He knows Margaret won’t read it, but she enjoys looking at the pictures.

Milo looks around at his new family and marvels at how much his life has changed in the past year and a half. He will be forever grateful to Margaret. Were it not for her insistence, he would probably still be alone, invisible, locked in the prison of his mind and reliving his memories. It’s ironic, he muses. Margaret freed him, and now she is the one imprisoned. And still, always, she smiles. He smiles back at her.

“What’s for lunch?”

The End

Posted for River of Mnemosyne Challenge 11, Muse 9: "The Safest Place Is the Prison of Your Mind"


  1. So, chapter 8 should be called "Musings" and chapter 9 should be "Meetings."

    I can see the dust being shaken off, as well as the frustration from writing the first two chapters and the last two, but now that the kinks are coming out, keep going!

    Second section, ninth paragraph: "Apparently, people who (are/live) alone tend to be depressed"

    A few paragraphs later: "I know HOW abrupt this must seem but believe me"

    1. OK. Titles entered. Thanks for the edits throughout. All fixed. This was hard. It's the first time I've written in 3 years.

    2. I noticed that, actually... your contents bar jumps from 2017 to 2020!

      Surprised me that it's been that long, actually... I figured 2018, at the most.

  2. that was very sweet, and fun to read. Nice work


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