Paused by Karen Jones

Celia should, they say, tone down her make-up, crop her hair, take up knitting, macrame, embroidery and baking, join a choir and a rambling club, give up work to look after the grandchildren so her kids can have a life, go on bus tours and gentle cruises, accept that she is no longer a sexual being – barely a being at all – and wear sensible shoes, three-quarter length sleeves (because no one wants to see those bingo-wings, darlin’), elasticated waist trousers, and always have a cardigan to hand because it can turn quite unexpectedly chilly, you know – though no one can explain why this chill is unexpected in late September – buy one of those terribly practical rain jackets that folds away into a tiny bag for the equally unexpected showers in April. Celia should, she should, she should…she should tell them all to fuck off, add a thrusting middle finger to shock them further, scream, ‘I ONLY STOPPED BLEEDING – I DIDN’T DIE!’, do not grow old, grow old, get out there and wear those leather trousers bold, take up pole dancing and deep sea diving, go on safari, see the grandkids once a week, fill them full of sugar and hand them back bouncing off the ceilings, sweet smiling granny that she’ll be, because Celia isn’t even sixty years old yet and she was paused, not finished, so Celia should, she should, she should… Celia smiles and says of course, they’re right, and only looking out for her, and yes, she does look tired and maybe a glass (or three) of wine at night and black coffee at lunch time isn’t the way to go because, at her age, yes, more water is the thing and she promises she’ll take better care and pay more heed to their excellent advice. Celia has her fingers tightly crossed behind her back. And her suitcase? Already packed.

Karen Jones is from Glasgow. This year she’s won 1st prize in The Cambridge Flash Fiction Prize, Flash 500 and Retreat West Monthly Micro. Her stories are published in numerous anthologies and her N-i-F is published by Ad Hoc Fiction. She is Special Features Editor at New Flash Fiction Review. She tweets @karjon