Fiction student Eileen Shields has a new creative nonfiction piece — see, this is why we’re multi-disciplinary here — in the latest issue of Fiction Attic. Here’s a snippet of “The Barbershop Quartet”:
The barbershop quartet had been my idea.
My mother-in-law lives in an elder care home located on a quiet, tree-lined street in a Northern California suburb. Her constant complaint is that she is bored. I feel sorry for her because she is a widow with three sons and no daughters. Whether through love or guilt or decades of female submission, daughters generally make more reliable caretakers than sons. For example, a daughter probably would not, as Jean’s sons do, point out that the reason she is bored is that she is disagreeable and grouchy and therefore has no friends. Granted, the boy’s opinion is hard to debate—even her own grandchildren refer to Grandma Jean as Grandma Mean.
The boys’ solution for Jean’s boredom was to hire a paid companion, a middle-aged redheaded woman who takes her on outings and then dutifully sends us photos of these excursions—to the museum, to the aquarium, and once, shockingly, on a helicopter ride with a helmeted and goggled Jean posing at the controls. When my husband asks Jean about her adventures, she does not remember them. The fact is, these days Jean does not remember much, but she does remember she has three sons, and wants nothing more than to spend time with them, because she is bored.
Read the rest here.