Short story; Age is more than a number

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The women agreed to have one final glass of wine. It had been a wonderful lunch and they were all, especially Michelle, the host, a little light headed. Childminders and husbands were rung and arrangements made to ensure children would be collected from school.

The chatter and gossip continued around the huge dining table in the kitchen. Michelle and her husband were wealthy and the kitchen boasted marble worktops, a Belfast sink and the latest gadgetry.

The guests were in a good mood. It being Friday, this group of friends was looking forward to the weekend.

In the next room was Stephanie, Michelle’s Greek-Cypriot mother in law. She’d lived with the family since her husband died three years ago.

A discreet individual, she knew when to keep out of the way. Not that she wasn’t welcome, Michelle and Stephanie got on exceedingly well.

It was just that, you know, Stephanie was 40 years older than everyone else in the house. She didn’t want them feeling awkward or like they had to tone down the conversation because of her presence.

Ah, the conversation, secretly Stephanie loved listening in to the conversations her daughter in law had with her friends. The talk of schools, children, husbands, holidays, family life and the love lives of the single ladies intrigued and entertained her.

Inevitably there were conversations about sex. It was no different on this occasion. Some graphic detail had been blurted out by one individual resulting in giggles all around the table. A few other experiences were swapped until Michelle hushed them all with a whispered reminder about who was next door. What Stephanie heard made her wince slightly, but who were these girls trying to kid? She had four children of her own and they hadn’t been delivered by the stork.

Some people say age is only a number but Stephanie disagreed. The physical impact of ageing had taken its toll on her body. Stairs were a struggle and she could no longer lift her grandchildren or roll around on the floor with them. Three different types of heart medication rattled around her handbag in pill bottles but at least she was still alive, unlike many of her friends.

Stephanie had witnessed friends with dementia and she’d lost family members from cancer. It wasn’t easy, but at least her son’s beautiful family was here to provide support and love.

A short while later Michelle came through and asked if she’d care to join her friends while they had coffee. Worried about appearing rude, Stephanie agreed and made small talk with them all. She admired their clothes, jewellery and perfume. In fact she really enjoyed spending twenty or so minutes in the company of these younger women. It was a pleasant reminder of youth and what Stephanie once had.

When it was time for the guests to leave, Stephanie announced they were all “very glamorous ladies. I look forward to meeting you again.”

Being British, they offered the older woman a hand to shake or a cheek to kiss. Being Greek-Cypriot, Stephanie responded with a bear hug and a gregarious demand they return again soon.

The brief social encounter had left Stephanie feeling tired.

“Are you okay mum?” asked Michelle. This was the way Stephanie insisted on being addressed by her daughter in law.

“Yes my dear. I am just a little tired,” she replied. “You are lucky with your family and youth and friends. Enjoy these things while you can.”

“Thank you mum. Well, we’re lucky to have you too. Not that I feel very youthful, I’m almost forty.”

The two women smiled at each other. There was pause while Stephanie got out of her chair.

“One other thing, I hear what your friends say earlier when you all giggle. You know, while you were having your erotic discussion.”

The emphasis was very clearly on the word erotic. Michelle went red. She didn’t like the way this was going.

“You just make sure that son of mine is, you know, keeping you happy in the bedroom. I may be old, but these things are important in a marriage.”

With that Stephanie walked slowly out of the room and to her bedroom for a rest. Slightly shocked, Michelle poured herself another glass of wine.

Story based real events and the resulting conversation having been greatly sanitised.

Copyright, John Adams, London, November 2014.

This post was inspired by #theprompt linky hosted by the Mum Turned Mom blog (the prompt word being age). It has been added to this, and a couple of other linkies. Go, take a look, see what other creative people have been writing.


Nikki Young Writes

Nikki Young Writes


26 thoughts on “Short story; Age is more than a number”

  1. This is a really well written post, John. I enjoyed it so much – I read it twice!
    I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall with the original conversation! Stephanie sounds like a lovely woman… We Brits don’t hug each other enough.

  2. HaHa, I would LOVE to have heard the original conversation! A bit like an episode of ‘sex and the city’ by the sounds of it! I’ve noticed your stories on a fair few creative linkys recently. If you ever feel like sharing something about your creative process feel free to join in with my #WhatImWriting linky on a Tuesday! No pressure – just if you’re interested. I enjoyed this story #Fridayfiction

  3. I love that this was written from Stephanie’s point of view and that she had the capacity to shock her daughter in law. It is a reminder that old people were once young and vibrant and no doubt got up to all sorts themselves!

  4. really well written, really sparked my interest, i would of loved to of heard the original conversations that inspired this!

  5. This is a great story. I love how Stephanie shows her wisdom and also that, even though she’s old, she cares about sex. In this sense, I at once understand the title of your story, and it’s not that true all at once. #theprompt

  6. Yes, I’d love to have heard the original conversation too! I really like the perspective of Stephanie as story teller as well-we sometimes forget that older people have so many stories and experiences to share.

  7. Reading this makes me think – what is it about the older generation that makes us always assume that they don’t understand basic human nature – like they haven’t lived when in actual fact they’ve lived more than any of us.. I have been reading other posts and saying age is just a number but no, you’re right, age is more than a number because with age comes so much extra experience and knowledge – and some aches and pains of course, but we do change according to the life lessons we’ve learned and at the same time we stay the same in our basic nature and personality. There should be more acceptance and cross generational bonds. Great story X #theprompt

    1. Thanks for your kind comments. It’s so right, we should challenge how we view older people. They have often lived a very rich life.

  8. Really love the fact that this is Stephanies story; so often the older character is more of an add on, rarely has the ability to shock! We all need reminding every now and again that older people have lived, may have been a bit saucy and are alive to today’s world

  9. Love this story and yes would have loved to have heard the original conversation! Really interesting reading it from Stephanie’s viewpoint and being reminded that the older generation had their fair share of ‘fun’ times too! That said, if my mother-in-law said something like that to me, I think I’d be slightly shocked too! 🙂

    1. I think we are all guilty of forgetting that the older generation have lived too. As for what the mother in law said, you should be aware of what the real conversation involved!

  10. It’s interesting this intergenerational prudishness that goes on… Both my Dad and my Grampa were beta readers for my novels, and both have varying degrees of sexual activity as part of the lives of the characters. And I was so embarrassed about them reading them! But as you’ve captured very effectively here they have very much seen it all before… 🙂

  11. I really love how this ends, with Stephanie proving that age is not defined by a number. It was wonderful that we heard the story from her perspective, and that added a very interesting, and real, dynamic to the story. Have to say, I would have loved to hear the conversation that inspired this 🙂 Thanks so much for linking to #ThePrompt and I’m so sorry for taking so long to comment, a lot to catch up on this weekend x

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