From Tracie: The Hat Room

Friday, February 04, 2011

The Hat Room

Charlotte unlocked the front door and turned the glass doorknob. She was there to take care of George and Susan's animals while they were out of town.

"Hello puppies!" Usually the three dogs would be sitting by the door waiting for her. This time they weren't, but they quickly came running when she started filling up food and water bowls.

She walked into the living room and ran her fingertips across the books lined up neatly on the floor to ceiling shelves. Charlotte decided she was going to spend some time reading, but then she heard a noise.

It sounded like it was coming from Susan's hat room.

Susan called it a room, but really it was a small alcove hidden behind the attic stairs with a stained glass window that bathed the space in rose light. Susan had filled it with her grandmother's old hats and pictures from her childhood.

Creeping toward the hat room, Charlotte realized that what she was hearing, was crying.  She wasn't sure if she should run to the kitchen and call the police, or round the corner and see who it was.

Curiosity won out.

"Susan?" she whispered in surprise, "Is that you?"

"Oh Charlotte. I'm so sorry. I must have scared you half to death. I thought you would be at work until later tonight." Susan blew her nose, and threw the tissue on the floor. There was quite a pile down there.

"What happened? You and George weren't supposed to come home until next week. Is everything okay?" Even as the question passed over her lips, Charlotte was kicking herself. Obviously everything was not okay.

"Everything is fine," Susan replied, unconvincingly. She looked so lost. "Oops!" she held up the empty tissue box and shook it back and forth, "They're all gone."

"Do you want me to get you some more? I think I saw a box in the bathroom."

Charlotte moved toward the hallway, but Susan's voice stopped her. "No. I don't think so. Tissues won't fix what is wrong with me. I'm unfixable. At least, that's what George told me yesterday. He actually said those words. Then he said that he couldn't live with me anymore.

I just sat there on the sand and thought about how I should have brought Grandma's beach hat with me because I could feel the sun beating down on my face."

"He can't live with you anymore? That doesn't make sense. Oh Susan, I'm so sorry. What are you going to do?"

"I wanted to get in the car and drive and drive until I disappeared into a fog...but Grandma's beach hat was there in my mind. I couldn't leave her hats here. I had to come back for them."

Susan reached up and grabbed a hat off of it's shelf, it was tall with flowers and leaves on the top. "Have you seen this one?" Susan asked. Charlotte nodded.

"When I was little I called it her flowerpot hat." Susan held it up to her nose and imagined that it still smelt of lilacs, the scent her grandmother always wore. A hint of a smile crossed her face. "I would beg her to tell me the leaf joke.....'knock knock' she would say, rapping on the table, and I would yell out the 'who's there'. 'Leaf' she would answer, and then shake her head, making the leaves dance around. 'Leaf who?' I would ask. In her sternest voice, she would answer, 'Leaf me alone' and then we would both break out in giggles."

Susan's smile faded. "Now that is what I am. Alone. Just me and Grandma's hats."

This piece of fiction has been inspired by the Red Dress Club prompt, "No more than 600 words, 3 minutes read aloud - and have a character that cries and tells a joke."


  1. Oh, poor Susan! I hope she can work things out...

    Visiting from RDC

  2. I love how she was so focused on her grandmother's hats, like she was trying to avoid thinking of her problem at hand. Or maybe that was what brought her the most comfort.

  3. Aw, that was a very sweet story! I love the hats in the alcove. I can just picture them! Nice job!

  4. I love how important the hats were to her. I could really picture the alcove and imagine how it must be her special place in the house. Great job!

  5. I loved this post! Is it part of a series? If so...I want to read more. If not...write, lady, write!

    I loved the comfort that she got from the hats and how they were her treasures, even displayed in their own "room". Lovely. Simply lovely.

    (Visiting from TRDC.)

  6. I love how the joke and the objects are bringing your characters back to a place of hope and redemption.

    Yes, things are hopeless. But there are still moments of joy and flowers on hats.

  7. I love the hats...I always wished I had more tangible memories of my grandparents, but I don't. It makes me sad sometimes. But I do have lots of photos, which comfort me.

    I hope the hats bring her happiness. But it sucks to be left alone.

    Enjoyed this, Tracie!

  8. Love your description and I can actually hear Susan relieving the story about her grandmother. Very well done!

  9. Seriously?? Where have you been hiding this talent of yours young lady? I mean I knew you could write but not like actually WRITE. Crap am I making any sense at all?? YOu know what I mean don't you..

  10. I want my grandma. :(
    Great post! I think the joke fit perfectly into this scene.

  11. I like how the gentle tone was consistent throughout the whole piece :)

  12. So real that at the worst of times memories and small things (like hats) can bring us comfort. I agree with the comment that she was using it as a form of distraction for herself to avoid facing her grief, misery and loss.

  13. I love the way you made the hats such an important part of the story.

    And now I want a hat room, bathed in rose light!

    Lovely story...any chance you'll bring us more?

  14. I Love this!!! I love that her grandmother's hat meant so much and the skillfull way you weaved the joke in at the end. Great story!!

  15. Oh poor Susan. This is sweet little story. So sad and yet so intriguing. I could almost hug her...

  16. I thought you did a great job of capturing the emotional swing we experience in crisis from sadness, to anger, to humor, to nostalgia. I love how the context of her grandmother's love makes the leaf joke sweet rather than funny.

  17. Oh this took an unexpected turn, poor Susan! Great job with the prompt.

  18. What an excellent piece. I love how you started it with the house sitting and the puppies and then built from there.

  19. This makes me wish we could have our grandmothers around forever...

    Nice piece:)

  20. There's nothing like playing with something old to hide something new! Great job!...:)JP

  21. That was sadly sweet. I love how the leaf joke ties into her being on her own now. Well done.

  22. Oh Tracie,
    This is wonderful. I love reading this story and I want more!!
    How sweet.

    I wanted to stop by and say hello and thank you for leaving a comment on my blog and I'm so glad that I did. I could just feel the emotions in your story.

    You are a wonderful writer.


  23. Oh dear. I just went through the upheaval of grieving for my grandfather yesterday. Now I'm missing my grandmother.

    Good job with the prompt, Tracie!

  24. Poor woman , and all she could think of was her grammas hat. Great job

  25. This was fantastic! You did such a great job with the prompt!

  26. This is so good!
    The hats so make the story. Write more!

  27. This is excellent! You followed the prompt and made it interesting enough to stand on its own. Good dialogue too!

  28. I love when objects become characters! The hats are like a third friend in the room, welcoming, loving, non-judgemental, steeped a love and history.

  29. Another fan of the hat room here. Such a fun element to work into this piece!

  30. reader, found you at JG's. I love your writing style and your ability to write the two subjects into such a beautiful story--wow

    that is all

  31. Brilliantly written - I absolutely LOVe the ending.

  32. Wow. That was good. Do you ever hate that you have to stop once you get started? Do you ever keep going with a story?

  33. Is this a piece of a larger story?

    If it isn't keep writing on it. This is so well put together!

  34. This makes me want my grandma too. Poor Susan.

    Thanks for stopping by my rdc post last week. Still catching up on my reading.

  35. "the glass doorknob"

    I love how that one little detail in the first sentence allows me to picture the house so easily.

    Very nicely done.

    Poor Susan.