Maureen's Story - The Final Chapter

This is the final chapter of 'Maureen's Story' that I began from choosing a random sentence (see: How to Construct a Story Using a One Sentence Prompt)

The first chapter was really only an example of how to use the sentence as a prompt to start a story or a poem. However positive comments suggested that I should finish the story so I continued in: Maureen's Story (Part Two): Life is Like a Buffet Supper

Then, at 9:00am on December 24th, Christmas Eve, Maureen was awoken by a knock on the door.

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Maureen's Story - The Final Chapter

Maureen opened her eyes, unaware at first what had woken her. With the sleeping tablets the doctor had prescribed she often slept in until 10 or even 11 o'clock. There was another knock and Maureen sat up in bed, rubbing her eyes. "Who could it be this early in the morning?" she mumbled to herself as she reached for her dressing gown and pulled it on.

As Maureen opened the door she saw a man and a woman standing there. The fact that they were dressed in military uniform made her feel faint. He introduced himself and his companion.

"Mrs. McLaughlin?" the man questioned, and she nodded. "Is your husband home?"

Maureen was beginning to panic despite her anti-anxiety pills. "What's happened?" she shrieked, "Is Danny ok?'

"Please Mrs. McLaughlin," the female officer intervened, "We really need to talk to you and your husband together. Can you call him?"

Maureen made the required phone call and got Frank at work. Even though he had trouble understanding her he could tell it was urgent and rushed to the house.

The news that Danny had been killed in action left both his parents in shock. Past hurts were put aside momentarily as they sat hugging each other and sobbing as the military representatives apologised for the bad news, offered their condolences, and left.


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Knowing his wife would be unable to cope with grieving alone, and shattered himself, Frank moved back home. In his sorrow he had lost his libido anyway. He slept in the spare room. Maureen's medications were increased and in her zombie-like state she had no objections.

After Danny's army funeral, life carried on. It was far removed from the good old days when Danny had lived at home and they were a happy family, but Frank and Maureen were back together and tried their best to support each other in their time of grief.

A year passed and Maureen gradually reduced her medication. Frank convinced her to begin holding her buffet dinners once again. "Life has to go on," he said, "I know it's hard but I want to see you happy again. Danny would want that too."

Maureen was hesitant at first, but finally agreed to host her first buffet in over three years. She spent a whole day contacting friends, many of whom she hadn't heard from since the funeral. Impressed by the number who gratefully accepted her invitation Maureen spent the next few weeks preparing for the event.The big day arrived, and although nervous, Maureen was surprised at how successful the dinner party went. It even allowed her to forget about Danny for a brief time.

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After the initial success Maureen threw herself enthusiastically into hosting regular buffet suppers once more, and her life improved. Even her relationship was almost back to normal, and although she could never forget what Frank had done, she tried to forgive him. He in turn tried to make up for his indiscretion and was being a more attentive and caring husband.

Then on one stormy day in May 1975 Frank was driving to work, his vision impaired by torrential rain, when he had to swerve suddenly to avoid a truck than had braked abruptly in front of him. His Toyota Corolla ran off the road and slammed into a power pole. The lights went out in three suburbs and Frank was killed on impact.

At the still young age of 45, Maureen found herself alone once again, widowed and childless. Frank's life insurance was sufficient to pay for his funeral and what remained of the mortgage however now Maureen realised that she would need to find employment to support herself. She grieved for her husband but for a shorter time than following her beloved son's death.

A number of Maureen's friends suggested that she should turn her expertise in hosting buffet dinner parties into a profession. She didn't take much convincing that this was sound advice, after all it was something she loved.

Within two years "Maureen's Marvellous Buffets" was grossing in excess of $20,000 per year and was in demand across the country. She hired coordinators in every state but continued to host her own dinner parties for many years.

Now, as I interviewed one of Australia's most successful women at 74 years of age, she told me that she'd finally decided to hang up her salad tongs. "Oh, I'll still have the occasional buffet but only for my friends," she said, "The business can run itself and I need to spend some time on myself while I can."

"Can I ask a personal question?" I said politely, and she nodded.

"You were still quite young when Frank died. Did you ever considered marrying again?"

Maureen's crow's feet deepened as she smiled, "Oh, I've had my suitors. Men are partial to good food you know. The trouble is that most of them think life is like a buffet supper. they like to help themselves to different dishes." Although she was smiling I thought I sensed a slight look of sadness in her eyes. "So no, I never considered marrying again." Then she changed the subject, "Can I get you some apple pie or cake, Dan.., I mean Son?"


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© 2015 John Hansen

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Comments 59 comments

Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 22 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Well I asked for more and you certainly came through with a real tear jerker. Melancholy comes to mind. Thank you for a great read.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 22 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for being the first to read and comment Eric. Glad the fina chapter didn't disappoint.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 22 months ago from Central Florida

It's so sad that Maureen ended up alone. At least she had her business to keep her occupied and surrounded by people.

I love her take on men treating life (or relationships) like a buffet table.

Nice story, John!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 22 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you Shauna. This was a different type of story for me but I enjoyed the experience of writing it. Yes it was kind of sad. Glad you enjoyed it though.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 22 months ago from Olympia, WA

John, I love that you are willing to try different genres. That's where growth comes from, and you are growing leaps and bounds. Nicely done, my friend.


annart profile image

annart 22 months ago from SW England

Like the ending! What a roller-coaster of a life.

Great story and great writing, John.

Ann


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 22 months ago from New York

We never know where life will lead us and Maureen certainly didn't. Though sad, this was a great read. The twist at the tend really made you stop and thin,

Voted up, awesome, and interesting.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 22 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks Bill, the fact that you consider my writing is growing and developing means a lot.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 22 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for reading Ann. Yes, Maureen certainly had her ups and downs. Glad you liked the ending.


annart profile image

annart 22 months ago from SW England

Meant to say how great the first illustration and quote are!

Ann


Jodah profile image

Jodah 22 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi again Mary. Thanks for sticking with Maureen's story even though it was sad. You never know what life will throw at you. I appreciate the vote up too.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 22 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for that too Ann.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 22 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona

I just read all three chapters for the first time and it looks like you're an all-around talent!

This was a sobering look at infidelity. Some of the world's best fiction concerns life's tragedies, and our triumph over them.

Well done!


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 22 months ago from Victoria, Australia

Some great imagery here! What an interesting and creative response to the challenge.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 22 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Howdy Will, this was the story I was referring to that I had broken into chapters :) thanks for reading them all and for your kind comment. I really appreciate what you say because there is no better fiction writer around than you. You are right too, where would writers be without life's tragedies?


Jodah profile image

Jodah 22 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you Blossom, glad you enjoyed Maureen's story. As I set the challenge I thought I should set an example with my response. Glad it worked out ok. Bless you.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 22 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Hi again John. My point about chapters is well illustrated here, because you got over 40 replies on chapter one, but less than 20 on chapter two although chapter two, IMHO, is better than chapter one! So far, you have less than 10 replies on your excellent conclusion, but that should improve.

That's exactly the sort of ratios I got with my chapter stories, which is why I no longer publish that way.

BTW, would you mind if I contact you via your fan page?


Jodah profile image

Jodah 22 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks again Will, you are probably right though chapters two and three haven't had so long to get viewers. Time will tell. Hopefully chapter two was better than the first because that was restricted by the sentence prompt and most of it written over 20 years ago. Please feel free to contact me via my fan page. Any suggestions or criticisms are most welcome.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 22 months ago from Southern Illinois

Well it certainly ended differently than I expected. Losing her son then husband was sad but she was a strong woman and handled it with dignity. At least she was a successful business woman. Nice story John..


Jodah profile image

Jodah 22 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Ruby, everyone was suggesting they knew what was coming next so I had to throw in a curve ball. Although Maureen had to weather some sadness in tragedy in life I had to make her come out on top. Glad you enjoyed the story.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 22 months ago from southern USA

Wow, what a great start there with that striking imagery and line! Then, what an ending too! I did not see that coming ...

This is such a well-written and creative short story. I loved it, although it did have its sad points, but life is like a rollercoaster for the most of us.

I love that line about her thoughts on men there at the end too.

Up ++++ tweeting, pinning and sharing

Seeing all that food there is making me hungry again.

Have a lovely evening, John


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 22 months ago from USA

I know a Maureen or two. Good ending!


lawrence01 profile image

lawrence01 22 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

The story has a 'ring of truth ' about it that makes really good reading. Well done


Jodah profile image

Jodah 22 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hey Theresa, glad you enjoyed this story. Yes life certainly was a rollercoaster for Maureen as it can be for many of us. Glad you like that first image and quote, the line about the men treating life like buffet suppers, and the ending. Thanks for the vote up, tweet, pin and share too.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 22 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hey Theresa, glad you enjoyed this story. Yes life certainly was a rollercoaster for Maureen as it can be for many of us. Glad you like that first image and quote, the line about the men treating life like buffet suppers, and the ending. Thanks for the vote up, tweet, pin and share too.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 22 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for reading Flourish. I am sure there are quite a few Maureens out there.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 22 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for reading Lawrence. I appreciate that kind comment. I tried to keep it real.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 22 months ago from southern USA

Looks like I am double-trouble there. Tee hee


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

It was very real to life, Jodah. I so enjoyed reading all 3 parts. I am so glad that Maureen did pull out of the depression and found herself through her talents and gift of hosting and doing for others. I am surprised at the ending sentence and a bit confused by it. I will let it settle and maybe it will clear for me. Very well done, Jodah.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 22 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks Phyllis. I'll let you think about the final sentence, but if it doesn't come clear just ask and I will try to enlighten you :)


Marion Drury profile image

Marion Drury 22 months ago from Sydney, Australia

A very good read. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 22 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for reading and commenting Marion.


lawrence01 profile image

lawrence01 22 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

I think there could be more to this story if you wanted to run with it


Jodah profile image

Jodah 22 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Possibly Lawrence but having started purely from a one sentence prompt and having written three parts from that I think Maureen's story has run its course. It could possibly have become an eBook or novelette but Ithat's not really my thing.


lawrence01 profile image

lawrence01 22 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

Fair enough.


DDE profile image

DDE 22 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Hi Jodah excellent read here and you show great talent throughout. Voted up, interesting.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 22 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks again Devika for reading every chapter of this story and your kind comment as always.


missirupp 22 months ago

Oh man, I love Maureen. I just want to take her home and care for her.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 22 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Feel free missirup. Glad I created a likeable character.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 22 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

I enjoyed the third installment of your story, but I really loved the last paragraph! I think the ending of the story was very well done.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 22 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for sticking with the story Alicia. I appreciate you saying you especially emjoyed the last paragraph. If the ending of a story is not successful it can spoil the whole thing. ome stories actually stall and never get finished because you can't come up with a satisfactory ending. I know that's the case with me anyway.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 22 months ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

John, great story, beautiful ending. Although she'll never stop missing her only son, I think Maureen had some fun along the way. Loved it.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 22 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

I am glad you enjoyed the final chapter of Maureen's story as well Jo. No, she never got over losing Danny, but she did get on with her life. Thanks for your kind comment.


travmaj profile image

travmaj 22 months ago from australia

You've done an amazing job from one sentence to the culmination of the story. Phew. Maureen certainly had some grief and came through eventually, although I imagine she will never forget. Hmmm, I would love to have attended one of her buffets. Your final paragraph was a perfect ending.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 22 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

I appreciate your kind comment Maj. Glad this turned out ok, especially the ending. I changed that a few times. Yes she certainly had some grief, but that's life I guess.


Marie Flint profile image

Marie Flint 22 months ago from Jacksonville, FL

Evidence of a good imagination. Keep writing!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 22 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks, I'll be writing until I can't lift a pen anymore Marie.


Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image

Jo_Goldsmith11 22 months ago

Wow! You really write your heart out! I read the chapter before this one and I was in tears at the ending! This was one fantastic story and the way you built on the characters helped to identify with them.

I like learning from you! Well done and Up for beautiful, awesome and interesting. :-) shared too.


MDavisatTIERS profile image

MDavisatTIERS 22 months ago from Georgia

Good evening, Jodah; wonderful. Since I've just come back to Hub, I did not have the opportunity to read the previous chapters. However, like all good reads, even when we know the ending, we read it again for the joy of the words. So, I'll find the time to read the others this week. ~Marilyn


Jodah profile image

Jodah 22 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Great to hear you enjoyed this story and that you could identify with the characters Jo. Thank you for the vote up and share too.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 22 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Marilyn, thank you for reading this. I too have sometimes read a later hub in a series then had to go back to the start and reread in order. I hope you enjoy the earlier chapters. I think you'll find it all makes more sense then,especially as the first was an actual writing prompt.


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 21 months ago from Stillwater, OK

This was so perfect in so many ways, especially the ending.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 21 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Aw, thank you Deb. I so appreciate that comment from you.


Claudia Mathews profile image

Claudia Mathews 21 months ago

Wow, this is such a touching story. Had me in tears when Danny died and right then I had to go to work but hoped all day I would come home and find out it was all a mistake and he was actually still alive. So now Im crying even harder! But a great story never the less. :-)


Jodah profile image

Jodah 21 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

I am glad you read this whole story Claudia and that you enjoyed it despite it leaving you in tears with Danny's death etc. I hope it ha inspired you to join the challenge and write your own story. I look forward to reading it.


Dana Tate profile image

Dana Tate 17 months ago from LOS ANGELES

There's nothing to be said. This was a perfect end to a perfect story. With all the twist- turns, and cliff hanger's in between. Great entertainment. voted up and all the choices.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 17 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks so much Dana...now go read part one. Then it will all make even more sense.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 17 months ago from New York

You've certainly ended this story with a bang. A bang of sadness for Maureen, but one enjoyable to read. She managed her life, but I'm sure her memories never left her.

Beautifully done John. I'm s o glad I came to read this ending.

Voted up, awesome, and interesting.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 17 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you Mary, glad you found the ending sad, but satisfying. Thanks for the vote up to.

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