magpie 23

Author: angiem, 07 17th, 2010

When my cousin married she moved from the country to the city and took her widowed mother with her.  My aunt was short in stature but she made up for her lack of height in width.  As a child I had never seen a fatter woman.  Her eyes were like tiny raisins in leavening dough, and when she laughed all four of her chins trembled for minutes after her mouth had calmed.  Despite all that, she was elegant and graceful, and had the most slender feet on which she liked to wear jeweled heels, three or four inches high.

Soon after my cousin’s wedding, the three of them moved into a second-floor three-room apartment in the new part of the city.  The building, a square concrete block type, ten stories high popping up all over the country at the height of communism, lacked both a working elevator and lighting on the stairwell.  My aunt though, accustomed to attention from men despite her size, rarely lacked for an arm to lean on, or a hand cupping her elbow as she made her way up.  After she was seen to her door, she had a habit of inviting the gentlemen in and packing them plates heaved high with her delicious pastry before sending them back to their families.

One day, possibly the hottest day of the year, my aunt was baking Dobos cakes for a wedding that weekend, dressed only in her silky undergarments when the kitchen caught on fire.  She ran, threw open the  windows and yelled, “Fire! Fire!”  before collapsing on the floor in a state of panic.  Within moments her admirers broke down the door and got to her.  Because she could not stand on her feet, four of them carried her out, two holding her underneath her armpits, and two underneath her knees.  But she wouldn’t allow them to go down until two other men running around in circles and not doing anything helpful, promised to run in and rescue her precious shoes.

They crawled on all fours through the smoke to the bedroom wardrobe where the shoes were and while the men ran down the three flights of stairs with my aunt, they shoved her shoes off the balcony, all the while blinded by the smoke and coughing their lungs out.

It was a good thing that the fire department finally decided to show up.  The men were saved, the apartment was saved, but most importantly, the shoes were saved, and my aunt was even talked into procuring a fire extinguisher in place of a new pair of dainty pumps, should a fire happen a second time.

My aunt learned two things that day, and none of them had to do with putting out a fire. The first was to keep her shoes within easy reach of the front door, and the second, no matter how hot the day or the kitchen, to bake fully dressed.

This is a work of fiction. For more, please visit Magpie Tales.

Check out my friend Sharon’s prompt, and participate for a chance at the giveaway she’s having on her blog, French Country Home.


57 Responses to “magpie 23”

  1. Marilyn Says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this - the four men who carried her must have been very strong ;-)

  2. Friko Says:

    and I love this. Lovely to have found you.

  3. Susan Deborah Says:

    Had a hearty laugh Angie. I could imagine her bulky body and the thoughts of shoes which might have worked her up.

    Everyone learns some lessons after an accident, be it good, bad or funny.

    Hope your Sunday is lovely and beautiful dear Angie.

    Joy and laughter,

  4. Lori Says:

    Wow. I love it. I love the gradation, the rhythm and the witty and funny (but ringing oh so true) denouement. One of your best.

  5. Susan Says:

    It’s 7.04am & I laughed out loud. I hope that’s a good sign. Must go put on robe, back later.

    Truthfully, back to some sort of dozing state…but with robe firmly at side. While not having suffered Auntie’s predicament (yet, oh it will surely happen), the thought has occurred while similarly engaged…”what if…

    uh oh

  6. Ava Says:

    Angie, loving your sense of humor in this one. Amazing writing. I can just imagine the aunt carried down the stairs. Lol!!!

  7. Linda Says:

    Very creative story. The lessons she learned were good. I thought she was going to learn a lesson on weight or second-floor walk-ups. Nice magpie.

  8. Lyn Says:

    Your Auntie is a legend in her own time..will stay fully clothed in my hot kitchen from now on!

  9. sharon Says:

    Angie, You are so talented. I have reread this several times especially the first paragraph which is pure poetry.
    I knew nothing about Magpie Tales, what a great idea!
    Thank you

  10. Helen Says:

    A delightful Magpie Tale!!!!

  11. RA Says:


  12. Ligia Says:

    Oh, Angie, what a beautiful piece… I had never read you in a funny version before… it was good! thanks…
    lovely…. about a woman her humanity her love for shoes and yet… her at one of the most vulnerable moments of her life… so, it made me wonder about mine…Thanks…..

  13. Kirie Says:

    Beautiful!! You are a wizard with details and vignettes. Your characters never cease to captivate me!

  14. jane jones Says:

    Dear Angie: Excellent and “oh so HOT!” I love this line
    “But she wouldn’t allow them to go down until two other men running around in circles and not doing anything helpful, promised to run in and rescue her precious shoes.”

    This is exactly what happens in these situations! Love this story! Happy ending! I want to know about Dobos cakes; sound scrumptious!

  15. Lena Says:

    I can just picture those bejeweled shoes struggling with all that weight! Fabulous Magpie!

  16. Catalyst Says:

    Angie, the pictures you paint with your words are amazing. Such detail. I could see the building, the apartment, the aunt, everything. Beautiful Magpie!

  17. Kary Gonyer Says:

    you are a very talented writer, my friend…you had me at the first sentence…i was captivated…eyes like raisins…they way you described the trembling chins…just great writing….

    thank you for visiting Farmhouse and leaving the kind words..

    a pleasure to see you…as always…

    kary and teddy

  18. Stephanie @ La Dolce Vita Says:

    Love this story! so cute!

  19. Sabine Says:

    I enjoyed this story so much, Angie! It’s beautifully told, funny and there is a touch of Latin American magic (Marquez, Allende…) in it. xo

  20. Christie Says:

    I love your work!
    What a fabulous Tale.
    I could see her dazzling shoes and sweet admirers. I love your attention to every detail!

  21. Mary Moon Says:

    Such a delicious bit of writing! Hmmm.
    Makes me hungry for more!

  22. Jessica Says:

    Oh, this is wonderful! I love it! And I have to tell you, the line about her eyes in leavening dough is awesomely fresh! Love it!

  23. angiem Says:

    Thank you all, so much!

  24. bkmackenzie Says:

    love your decription of Auntie and her jeweled shoes…you created a great caricature of her in this read….very nice magpie…bkm

  25. Tattered and Lost Says:

    Vivid. Realistic. Perfection.

  26. Patience Ray Says:

    very cool story. Sooo delightfully written and laugh-out-loud funny. You held me to the very end. great magpie.

  27. brigid Says:

    Beautifully written story and I loved the Aunt character, terrific Magpie.

  28. Susu Paris Chic Says:

    Dear Angie… I love reading the juicy fruits of your creativity. Every time!

    Thank you dear friend for your kindness. Your words heal away the bad that comes from elsewhere. Luckily there are more nice people out here in the Blogland than the not so nice ones.

    I’ll be up and blogging again in some time. Now I’m just taking it easy for a while and then life shall go on. I love blogging and decided not to give it up, but to pour my creativity into it even more. Let bad turn into good.

    Sweet hugs - I wish I could just see you, today, face to face, and chat! But the cyber hugs will have to do…

  29. Francesca Says:

    I think the tiny raisins in leavening dough analogy is so wonderful.

  30. deb @ talk at the table Says:

    your words are so enchanting.
    I ‘d love to have known this Aunt :).

    Hope your summer is filling your cup to running over.

    love to you

  31. brian miller Says:

    ha. what a delighful magpie and those are some great learnings she carried away from the fire…lol.

    glad to see you stopping by the other day!

  32. La Belette Rouge Says:

    LOVE it! I adore how you managed to combine funny and morality tale all in one gorgeous jewel.

  33. pamela Says:

    “raisins in leavening dough”.
    Oh, I adore that!!

  34. cathi Says:

    Great story, Angie! Have a fabulous week, my friend! xxoo :)

  35. cathi Says:

    P.S. thank you for your kind thoughts - they are appreciated! xxoo :)

  36. willow Says:

    This was a wonderful read. And I love the ending.

  37. Tumblewords Says:

    A delightful story - full of humor and action!

  38. ~T~ Says:

    What a fun story! I can see it all…
    It reminds me of a lesson a friend’s grandfather learned the hard way–always wear underwear when mowing the lawn.

  39. Kathe W. Says:

    delightful story!

  40. audrey Says:

    oh, auntie is my kinda girl! moving through life in deep passion in everything she does, the drama of the fire… and jeweled heels… i love it. i see sparkles and colour all through her days. your writing is incredibly nice!!

    sending you cool and sweet hugs!!

  41. Kavita Says:

    Inspite of the fire incident and all, this was crazy HILARIOUS ! :)
    Now, I have to admit, that after opening your blog and seeing the length of the story, I had decided to read it after I was done with the shorter reads! And you know what! Now I can safely tell myself that I had saved the best for the last!!!! This was just toooo good, girl!
    Am off to bed now, all smiles, thanks to you!
    Btw, I just realized that my innumerable pairs of shoes are RIGHT BY the front door ;-)

    Happy Writing, and keep the fun flowing! :)

  42. Elisa_Croatia Says:

    Angie, I wanted to stop by and say thank you for your words of comfort.

    I like this story, it made me smile and laugh out-aloud! I could only picture the lady with her obsession for her shoes..

    Hope you are having a wonderful day.
    Hugs to you my friend.


  43. D.S. Lear Says:

    what a wonderful story!

  44. jane Says:

    what a wonderful story! thank you for that:)

  45. diane Says:

    I never can figure how much of the story is actually true. Great writing!

  46. Susan Tiner Says:

    What fun! I just found you via La Belette Rouge. She’s been introducing me to bloggers who write memoir. Happy to meet you!

  47. julie Says:

    hahahha.. love it!!! i have quite a few fire stories myself… my late firefighting grandfather would be horrified at this admission!!!

    So… I too often wonder how much is true.. perhaps as you paint the picture so well.. all the little details to make it come to life!!

    So Angie sorry about my lack of visits.. my internet in new place is fickle!!! hope to see you again soon..almighty internet permitting.. xxx Julie

  48. laura Says:

    Angie! What a delight. I love your stories. Maybe one day I’ll get to hold a collection of them all in my hands? You are a very gifted writer.


  49. Janna Qualman Says:

    That was wonderful! And so believable, too. Awesome fiction, Angie.

  50. Theresa Says:

    this is great

  51. Mama Zen Says:

    Wonderful, Angie!

  52. Susu Paris Chic Says:


    You must be having one of your lovely Sunday summer moments… I’m thinking of you and just sending hugs! The morning is Paris looks sweet. I’m sipping coffee and connecting with my dear blog friends:) What could be sweeter. Then waking up dear hubby…;)

  53. Holly L Says:

    Must save the shoes…must save the shoes…must save the shoes. Quite a woman to get men to go back in a burning building for shoes!

  54. Cindy L. Says:

    I’ve missed your wonderful memories and stories this summer — so I really enjoyed catching up with this post! Your writing is always so vivid and lovely, and there’s always a sweet lesson in every piece. Cheers!

  55. deb @ talk at the table Says:

    just stopping by to say hello sweet Angie!!

    hope everything is wonderfully abundantly full of love and good health.

    love to you

  56. Susan Says:

    Just stopping by to say hello, Angie. Hope all is well…xoxo Susan & Julie (aka GG)

  57. Kary Gonyer Says:

    happy to see you at farmhouse today..wish you were here for a piece of apple pie with me :-)

    sending love
    kary and teddy

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