The MerryWeather

The MerryWeather

Didnt place > Fairy Tale / An assisted living facility / A bolt

Synopsis: As Laurie’s grandmother sinks deeper into dementia, she’s accepted into the most exclusive and secret of retirement communities deep in the French countryside—The MerryWeather, which only admits a very specific clientele. 


Once upon a sunny Sunday afternoon, Laurie idled before a sagging and rusted gate, the whole thing seemingly held up by the warp and weft of a robust hedera helix. She’d almost missed the turnoff from the main road—if a labyrinthine dirt crumble so forgotten could be called such a thing.  

Asleep in the passenger seat since they’d departed Clermont-Ferrand, Grandmother Pearl stirred. Her head lolled, a big flower on her skinny stem of a neck, her moonbeam hair shiny in it’s elaborate updo.  

Movement caught Laurie’s eye. Through the wrought iron railing the cane bolt swiveled and the freed gates swung inward as smooth as Pearl’s lemon chiffon pie.

Easing the rented Land Rover beyond the gate, a formation of ancient yew trees arched over a cobblestone path, their squat knobbly trunks lined one side, scraggly limbs descending down the other, jutting twigs clawed the car doors.

The tree tunnel let out upon the Baroque manor and Laurie’s already aching heart twisted. 

Why, this is nothing like the brochure!

The structure menaced her as if it stood under a terrific rain cloud—despite the sunshine—dark, dreary and wildly unkempt.

It’s abandoned!

There’d be nothing for it, she’d rouse Pearl and have her see it for herself.  This dreadful place wasn’t for her. Not with her bright cheer and warm nature.

Laurie had faced Pearl’s adamant persistence for months, arguing for a private nurse, or a local facility—anything so she didn’t haul herself away to parts very unknown.

“I’m forgetting many things, I must go to MerryWeather.”

Laurie brought brochures for Senior Villages and Active Living Condos. Pearl waved them away.  

“It has to be this way, Ruby. You’ll see.”

Laurie didn’t know how to argue with her, then.

Your sister Ruby is passed on. It’s me, Laurie.

“Grandmother Pearl, we’re here.”  

Pearl fluttered, the blue veins in her face fading as color rose to her cheeks.  Her gaze steadied, and Laurie smiled at the awareness in her azurite eyes.  

“Hullo, darling.”  Her voice croaked a bit, but at least she knew her, today.

Laurie wondered if that should make this task easier, or harder, and following that came the dread.  Home will be so still, a permanent shadow where light had always lived, only the memory of Pearl lingering here and there. 

And the curtains.  

Where once there had been only simple sage drapery, the fabric now featured embroidered woodland scenes in vibrant colour.  Frolicking deer and falling leaves, twitchy little bunny noses and birds flapping madly into the sky. So boldly detailed was it, that it seemed to move in the corners of her vision—and it had appeared overnight.  

Pearl had rolled the fabric in her fingers and looked at the foxes and the pheasants—as flabbergasted as Laurie—repeatedly calling her “Ruby” and asking why she should know anything about why her sister had gone and changed the window coverings.

Pearl turned her face toward The MerryWeather.  Laurie’s gaze lingered on Pearl’s profile, before being tugged to the mouldering chateau.  

It looked different now, as if a bright white moon was aglow inside, all the crevices and corners etched in starshine. Laurie blinked at the glittering glass of still windows and faintly surging sparkle of each silent stone in the facade. 

“It didn’t shine like that, a moment ago,” she admitted.

“Well, darling, we’re awake now, aren’t we?”

“Are we?” Laurie asked.

Pearl giggled, a tinkling bell of a sound, and pushed her car door open.

The breeze brought in rich green smells of trampled bracken and forest fir. Something smoky and sensuous followed, like wet wood thrown on a blazing campfire. Cleansing and also cozy.

Then there were the butterflies, Laurie remembered, a great horde of them. Every time Pearl took tea on the veranda they came. Red Admirals, Chalkhill Blues and Common Brimstone, all perched around her adirondack, wings slowly opening and closing.

“What do you say to them,” Laurie had asked, after noticing Pearl whispering and laughing.

“Nothing much, darling, mostly I just listen.  They’ve such amazing tales, the Nymphalidae.”

Clearly her firm grasp on reality was loosening.

Like the cane bolt that moved on it’s own?

Pearl wound her arm through Laurie’s, and Laurie placed her hand softly over Pearls, feeling it’s familiarity and warmth. Her vision blurred, recalling those beloved hands rolling her hair into curlers and brushing makeup onto her face—for her wedding, years ago.

“Of course I’m doing your hair and makeup!” Pearl had said, indignant that Laurie had dared mention hiring a professional.  “And I’m making the gown as well.”

And so she had done, in no time at all.

Like the curtains?

They stepped together into the shade of the austere portico and stopped before a stately wooden door bearing glistening golden door knockers. Upon the sash was an inscription and Laurie read the french aloud:

Maison De Retraite Pour Marraines Fées Déments

Pearl again giggled and turned her palm up to squeeze Laurie’s hand.

“It reads: Secret house for crazy fairy godmothers.”  Pearl winked at Laurie. “To keep in my wayward magic as I lose my marbles.”

The too abundant tea pots that seemed never-ending, the wooden rocking horse that had suddenly become a unicorn, the rose bushes flowering through a blanket of snow.

“It must be the compost, darling,” Pearl had lied.

The lost things she always found, the way birdsong followed her on every country ramble.  And she could clean the fireplace with not a speck of escaped soot.

Like the gate, the door swung in easily and independently, spilling out a warm iridescent bath of bluish sunshine—thick and swirling like the inside of an abalone shell. Emerging from the blur stepped a figure from another era.  She was ancient, she was a child.  She beckoned to Pearl with her name.

Pearl kissed Laurie’s forehead as the tidal air swelled, bolstering her until her toes only skimmed the floor. She floated into the glimmer.

“Try not to fret, Laurie. Her happily ever after is here.”

The End



{1788}  The layered plot was highly successful, with Laurie making both a physical and emotional discovery. It was a good-bye to Pearl, but it was also a farewell to Laurie’s ignorance about Pearl being an ordinary mother.

Peppy and gifted Pearl truly came to life on the page. She displayed grace by accepting the changes in her life, but there were moments of vulnerability and sadness throughout the piece that felt incredibly realistic.   

{2144}  I like the idea of a woman finding out her extraordinary grandmother is a fairy godmother as she drops her off at a magical home for her kind. There’s something very elegant about that kind of magical realism, and it creates a really touching final moment.  

{2151}  From the start, your use of language shines — not in a distracting way, but in one that supports and adds grace to your story. “Once upon a sunny Sunday afternoon” makes poetic use of rhythm and alliteration. The musicality of it brings readers into fairy tale mode.

Having off-putting elements to scare away unwanted intruders is straight out of mythology. If you want to find the beauty, you have to overcome obstacles. Whether it’s strength, the gentle wisdom that leads to asking help of usually overlooked elders or animals, faith, or something else, one must have the character and will to press on. The more vivid the ugliness, the greater the reward. The MerryWeather must be remarkable, indeed.

The ways Pearl’s dementia manifests — her “wayward magic” changing the world around her — is believable, marvellous, and tragic, all at once.


{1788}  Two aspects of the MerryWeather facility would be stronger with more concentration. First, the “ancient” child’s role was fairly unclear. Is she a nurse or the head of the fairy godmother facility? Does she come for every resident? Think about letting her introduce herself because readers will wonder who’s escorting her and why Pearl trusts her blindly. Also, the child might want to mention that they’re expecting Laurie. Wouldn’t they want to limit access to the MerryWeather? Perhaps Laurie was given a visitor’s pass so they let her onto the grounds so Pearl could say good-bye. Feel free to have fun addressing these two points, because the author’s creative enough to make them stronger.

“The MerryWeather” has much to admire, including an original mother and daughter, and meaningful conflict. If the author strengthens two plot elements, it will be a terrific fairy tale.   

{2144}  There are so many descriptions of The MerryWeather, but I think the real story here is Laurie realizing Pearl is a magical being and The MerryWeather just helps reveal Pearl in her true form. I would love to maybe condense the beginning a bit and give more space to the end where Laurie starts to put the puzzle pieces together and Pearl begins to ascend. Focusing on their relationship a little more and the building a little less seems a little more fitting to help carry the story.  

{2151}  You give the last line to the mysterious figure. Could you give her a voice (perhaps welcoming Pearl) before she gets the all-important ending?

A few phrases might be refined by paring.  For instance, in “The too abundant tea pots that seemed never-ending”, do you need both “too abundant” and “seemed never ending”? Your writing is strong, and your readers will be willing. You can afford to trust both the reader and the work.

A Website.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: