McMurphy’s Little Box

“She touched the little box in her pocket and smiled, Mom, I know it.”

Megan waited for her mother to respond, but Jenny Ballard was too engrossed in her novel to do more than nod.

“Mom! Mom, you aren’t even listening to me!”

“Meghan darling, how do you know Mrs. Gregory even had a box in her pocket?” Her mother didn’t look up from the book.

“She wears tight pants, Mom. It was hard to miss.”

Jenny suppressed a sigh.

Meghan grinned. She knew that would get her mother’s attention. She tried not to grin too much as her mother slid a piece of paper between the pages of her book.

“Alright, so there’s a box. But how do you know she was smiling? And what were you doing spying on the neighbors, again?”

o1v2rQcN2XENQ7tXvDsQHw“I wasn’t spying! It’s not my fault that I happened to be washing the front windows while she happened to be leaving Mrs. McMurphy’s house!”

Her mother arched a single eyebrow in her direction. “And so the binoculars are. . . ?”

“Dad’s,” Meghan said, glib. “He’s taken up birding.”

Jenny rolled her eyes. “So Mrs. Gregory was with Mrs. McMurphy. She’s her caretaker, honey. I’m not sure how this translates into a tale of mystery and intrigue.”

“Well, she’s either robbing Mrs. McMurphy blind, or they’re setting it up so that the kids get nothing when the old broad dies.”

“Meghan Ballard! What in heaven’s name have you been reading?! You don’t go around calling Mrs. McMurphy an old broad?”

“Dad does.”

“Your father–“

“You know Mrs. McMurphy is wealthier than anyone in town. John Townsend says she has gold bricks hiding in that mansion of hers.”

Jenny sighed. “John Townsend doesn’t know anything about the McMurphys. That family is just sour grapes because they used to work for Old Mr. McMurphy.”

Meghan avoided her mother’s eyes. “So, Mrs. McMurphy isn’t giving all her jewels to Mrs. Gregory now so the kids won’t find ‘em, and Mrs. Gregory won’t have to pay the taxes on ‘em?”

Jenny laughed. “If that’s what she’s doing, then more power to her. Her children are a heartless lot. Mrs. Gregory is the only one who spends any time with her – tight pants or no, young lady.”

“I suppose. But Mom, my story was more fun.”

“Perhaps – perhaps not. Maybe you should ask Mrs. Gregory to invite you to tea with her and Mrs. McMurphy. I think the two of them have some stories of drama and intrigue that really happened. Those may be better than anything you can cook up.”

Meghan scowled. How had her gossip turned into a morality tale? There was no getting around it now, though.

“Besides,” her mother picked up the book and looked at her over the edge. She was smiling. “Now I want to know what was in the little box, too!”

For the Day 10 Creative Writing Challenge: Start a story with the words: “She touched the little box in her pocket and smiled . . . “

About KM Sullivan

Descended of pirates and revolutionaries, KM Sullivan is a lover and student of all things Irish. Born in the States, she is a dual US/Irish citizen, and studied history and politics at University College, Dublin – although, at the time, she seriously considered switching to law, if only so she could attend lectures at the castle on campus. She lives in the American Midwest with her son, two cats and a pesky character in her head named D (but you can call him Dubh). Her first book, Changelings: Into the Mist, a young adult historical fantasy is available now on Amazon and Barns and Noble. She can be found writing with said character at her blog, The D/A Dialogues.

18 comments on “McMurphy’s Little Box

  1. Nice use of the prompt, Katie! I was captivated with your story from the very beginning. I really like how Jenny twists it around to encourage Meghan to take tea with the ladies and find out what in the box. Nice mother-daughter relationship 🙂

    • Thanks, Marie! My mother and I were in there, a little. Of course, instead of telling me not to spy on the neighbors, my mother was always telling me not to glare at them for turning the farmland around us unto a subdivision!

      • Oh, my. I would have been glaring too. I grew up in a small town, but it was surrounded by farmland. In fact there were cornfields on my street and across it too. Fond memories there 🙂

      • Same here – I grew up in the boon-docks of a small town, but because it was on Lake Michigan, people wanted to build and it was too much for a lot of the farmers to ignore. It was no wonder that, 15 years later, I worked for a not-for-profit land conservation group!

      • That’s awesome, Katie! Your work with the conservation group, not the developments … 😉

      • It was probably the best job I ever had. I left a few years into the recession. They needed me to be more of a fundraiser, and I just didn’t have the peer-to-peer relationships (or age) necessary to ask the big hitters. I’m a community outreach/membership person. Give me a groundwater model and I’ll teach kids and lake associations till the cows come home!! 🙂

      • No pun intended on the cows coming home? 😉

      • Oh, ha! I missed that – well, I do love a good pun!! 🙂

  2. Isn’t that how it always works. Kids get you curious and draw you into their webs.

  3. Oh why do I feel like this is a pulp fiction moment… what’s in the box, I must know!!! oh fine then. Well done Katie! I love the characterization and the dialogue just top notch.

    • I was going to do a whole other section from Mrs. Gregory’s point of view, but then I had to go pick up my son, and left it hanging… maybe if there’s a follow up prompt, or maybe I’lll give it a go with D looking on (hey, I was looking for a post idea for today… hrm!)

  4. Me too! I want to know what’s in the box too!

  5. I was hooked, and I’m with her mother and want to know too, lol.

  6. […] A Box of Memories: the life and times of Beth Gregory, the conclusion to McMurphy’s Little Box. For the Day 14 Challenge: […]

  7. […] A Box of Memories: the life and times of Beth Gregory, the exciting conclusion to McMurphy’s Little Box. For the Day 14 Challenge: […]

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