Old as the Hills

Penelope Lively

Read time: about 2 minutes

It is the thing with short stories. You get to read more authors than you would read otherwise. And, let me tell you. It is a blessing. To come across these many beautiful varied writings. Absolute bliss.

Old as Hill is  a short story mainly written in dialogues and memories. The short story is about two women named Celia and Jane. Both are ‘Old as Hill’ now. They had past together and this meeting in the eatery is supposed to be their closure.

Jane still remembers Celia as she was back in the time.

And you, Celia, and you. Elegant in black, neither embarrassed nor confused. Running things. Meeting and greeting. Presiding over the funeral bakemeats.

It was not just her who was besotted by Celia. Her husband too was caste under her spell. One day he came home to tell Jane that he has fallen for another woman.

Jane,’ he says. ‘Jane, I’ve got to tell you . . .’ And I know. He need not bother. ‘Celia Binns,’ I say.

The story keeps skipping from memories to present scenario.

Celia is now old and little overweight. She has also recently lost her husband that she stole form Jane.

‘One never thought it would happen, old age,’ says Celia. She is tucking into the salade niçoise, I note. ‘Just something that happened to other people.’ She laughs.

However, the story is a sympathetic expression of Jane’s feelings. She could not help but picture Hugh and Celia together. She is still getting around to accepting it.

Hugh and Celia. Celia and Hugh. I am used to that, by now, but forever not.

During the conversation she also admires the go-getter attitude of the destroyer of her life.

‘Oh, that rings a bell. Being young and strapped for cash. I remember being twenty–one and lusting – lusting – after a dress I couldn’t possibly afford.’

‘Did you get it?’ I ask. ‘Oh, yes. I found a way.’ She laughs. Of course.

Finally, the story ends but the scenarios doesn’t. The women are all set to have coffee after their lunch. The author leaves us there, to imagine the conversations they may have.

Lively is a stunning writer. I cannot believe I had not read the author before. 365stories is working its magic, see?

You can read Old as the Hills on LitHub.

Join in for fun as we read only women author this month. Share stories that you would want us to read! Actually, read along with us!

Happy women’s month!

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Veena Choudhary

An avid reader and history fanatic.

Mumbai, MH merakipost.com