I’ve been DYING to write a story with a super-powered octogenarian antagonist for some time now. So when this challenge came up and I found this photo to inspire a story, I knew my time had come.
It was really difficult for me to keep this around a thousand words. There were so many antics I had to cut. I think I’ll keep Beatrice Clutterbuck around for awhile and find a way to write her into another story. She is just way, way too much fun.
Beatrice the Incorrigible
“Mom! I’m sixteen! I don’t need a babysitter!” cried Adriana.
“You shouldn’t need one Mija but I’m not an idiot. I’m not leaving you alone for the whole weekend,” said Mrs. Martinez, turning to inspect her hair in an ornate silver mirror that hung in the entry hall.
“Why?” said Adriana, impetuously.
Mrs. Martinez scoffed, “Where do I begin? Last month’s house party? The fireworks fiasco? Not to mention that thing with the neighbor’s Chihuahua,” she said. She shook her head, “I don’t even know where you found twenty pounds of sardines…”
Adriana smiled involuntarily at the memory then quickly returned to her serious expression. She wasn’t trying to throw a party. This time, anyway. But she needed to be able to leave their townhouse at midnight. It was too important. She scowled at her mom, “I still think it’s stupid. Mrs. Clutterbuck is like, a hundred years old.”
“She’s not a hundred, she’s eighty four. And actually, she’s pretty spry for an octogenarian,” said Mrs. Martinez thoughtfully. She gave her hair another fluff then turned towards Adriana, “You might actually have fun.”
Adriana rolled her eyes dramatically to let her mom know exactly what she thought of that. “Doubtful,” she muttered, frowning. It shouldn’t be that hard to sneak past an old woman, but Adriana couldn’t help but worry. What if she couldn’t make it out for The Event? She’d never get a second chance with Marcos. Tewania would just love it if she got stuck at home.
“You’ll be fine.” Mrs. Martinez said. She gave Adriana a kiss on the forehead and grabbed her overnight bag just as the doorbell rang. “What impeccable timing, Mrs. Clutterbuck.”
“Please, call me Beatrice,” said the elderly woman standing on the front stoop. She was a petite blonde woman with glasses that covered half her face and wrinkles carved so deep in her skin you could lose small toys in them. “And you,” she said looking right at Adriana, “Can forget about your little escape plan. Midnight is way too late for a girl your age to roam the city by herself.”
Adriana froze. How did she know? Did one of her friends say something? Tewania wouldn’t stoop as low as snitching, would she? Mrs. Martinez laughed as she headed out the door, “See? I knew you’d be great to have here. Muchos gracias, Beatrice.”
The door closed.
Beatrice walked into the living room and sat down in an overstuffed recliner. She snuggled into the chair. “God in heaven this is luxurious,” she said, closing her eyes and sighing contentedly. After a minute she turned back to Adriana, “Your friend didn’t rat you out so you can stop worrying about it.”
A prickly feeling crawled down Adriana’s spine. She glanced at the old woman. Beatrice looked like she could probably be carried away in a strong breeze but there was an intensity in her gaze. Something more alive than Adriana had been expecting. And something else. It was almost as though… No. It was impossible. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she muttered.
Beatrice smiled crookedly at her and raised an eyebrow. “Don’t you? Oh, I see. You think I’m some senile old fool playing a guessing game. Well, you’re only three quarters right, but not for the reasons you’re thinking. Ah, yes. Yes, that. That too. The number eleven. Forty two. A purple monkey playing a kazoo wearing a Royals cap.”
“¡Dios mío! You can read my mind!” gasped Adriana, eyes wide.
“Among other things,” said Beatrice, eyes twinkling impishly.
“But how?” said Adriana, “I mean, that’s imposs-”
Loud snoring cut her off. Beatrice Clutterbuck was asleep.
A thousand and one thoughts whirled in Adriana’s head, least of which were her many, many questions about Beatrice’s mind reading ability and sudden narcoleptic episode. She still needed to get out of the house and meet Marcos. She glanced at the time on her phone. It was 10:37. She could slip out now while Beatrice was asleep and meet Tewania early. They had already planned on getting ready together.
She tip-toed past Beatrice. Carefully, cautiously, she opened the door and stepped outside. Then, she sprinted down the street. Adriana had no idea how close Beatrice needed to be to read her mind, but she wanted to put as much distance between her and the old woman as possible.
Six blocks away, she slowed down to catch her breath. She scanned the area to get her bearings. It was an industrial block that emptied the moment factories closed during the day. Nobody with good intentions hung around once the sun went down. Adriana shivered, suddenly aware of how dark it was. A shadowy figure emerged from behind a burnt out lamp post ahead.
“It is way too late for a girl your age to roam the city by yourself,” said the figure. Adriana screamed and ran in the opposite direction. Or at least, that’s what she tried to do. She was somehow completely immobilized and could only watch, wide-eyed, as the figure reached for her. For a brief moment she thought she caught sight of wispy blonde hair and glasses.
Then, it was gone.
She was back inside her mother’s townhouse. Beatrice snored in the chair. Adriana whirled around. Had she just hallucinated? She checked the time on her phone. It was 11:03. She would have hardly any time to get ready at Tewania’s now. Adriana slipped past Beatrice and went for the door. A shock jolted her and she pulled her hand away. Tentatively, she tried the handle again. This time, a stronger current coursed through her body.
“Ow!” she yelled, leaping backwards.
“Not trying to leave, are you?” said Beatrice sweetly. She regarded Adriana from under her gigantic glasses with a smirk.
“What the hell was that?” said Adriana, pointing to the door handle. She ignored the fact that Beatrice had been snoring half a second ago and narrowed her eyes at the older woman, “did you do that?”
“Of course,” said Beatrice, looking slightly offended that Adriana even had to ask.
“And that was you, too. Down the street,” she said.
Beatrice smiled back at her, eyes glinting mischievously. “I told you to forget about your little escape plan.”
Adriana leaned back against the wall and groaned, “This is going to be a long weekend.”
“No longer than any other weekend,” said Beatrice, her smile flickering slightly, “I can’t slow down time unfortunately, which is a shame. This chair is really quite comfortable.”
“Whatever,” said Adriana. She looked longingly at the door. Tewania would go to The Event without her and would probably end up hooking up with Marcos now that she couldn’t go. There was no way she’d be able to sneak out now. She turned to Beatrice and scowled, “Well, I guess I’ll go to my room and watch YouTube videos since it looks like-”
Loud snoring cut her off. Beatrice Clutterbuck was asleep.