40 Something
by Shannon Peel
Genre: Chick Lit, Contemporary Fiction
Five women navigate life while juggling careers, children, family, and the
men in their lives.
Charlie is bored with the family tradition of Sunday Dinner so she brings a
friend her family won’t approve of to spice things up a bit. Will
this friend go too far and cause too much damage?
Rose only wants to do what is right and keep her family safe. How can she
do that when the world is so dangerous and her teenagers so willful.
Will helping a friend invite trouble into her perfect world?
Lindsay loves to have fun and enjoys the company of men. She is a modern
playgirl who will stop at nothing to get a man’s attention. Will she
find what she’s looking for or something unexpected?
Sophie wants to keep the peace and keep everyone happy, especially her
ex-husband, so her children will live with her full time. Will she
lose the children if she can’t afford to take care of them?
Justine wants to escape her perfect life, she just doesn’t realize it. Will
she find the passion that is missing or will she continue to hide
behind her computer screen?


Dinner was a success.
Gus was beaming with pride with every compliment he got and I am so proud of him. He did an amazing job with that ham. I couldn’t have done it without him. Lindsay was gushing about how wonderful his is and he is. I’m so proud to be his wife. He really is perfect. Handsome, strong, talented, hard working, a provider and protector, he is the whole package and I love him. Maybe tonight I’ll show him how much I love him.
“Coffee is on.” Justine announces.
“Thank you. I need some.” I say.
I’ve had so much wine my mind is swimming in it.
“Why don’t us girls go into the living room for coffee and tea?” My mom suggests.
Good idea. The men are out in the garage, probably watching the football game and drinking beer. That’s their weekly ritual. Beer and football. The kids are either in their rooms or in the family room down in the basement. The house is full and I love it.
Mom, Barbara, and Betty set out the coffee, tea, and plates of baked goods. Lindsay adds more wine and glasses filled with the red and yellow liquids. Soon all the women have forgotten the coffee and tea in favour of the wine.
“Getting old sucks. My dry hair has turned oily and my oily skin is so dry. I’ve had to change all my beauty products.” Justine says. “Anyone else find this?”
“My body is one big change. I swear I’m going through early menopause.” Charlie says. “It’s like I don’t know my own body anymore.”
“Just wait ‘til you hit menopause for real. Crappy time but life is so much better after.” My mom says. “It’s like life began at 60.”
“I thought life was supposed to begin at 40.” Sophie says. “At least that’s what my mom is always saying.”
“40 is the new 20.” Charlene says.
“In my twenties it was all weddings and babies, and not necessarily in that order.” Barbara says.
“Mine too.” Mom says.
“I was working as a secretary in my twenties.” Justine’s mom says. “It wasn’t until my thirties the babies came along.”
“In my twenties I was busy with University and then starting my career.” Charlene says.
“I was in University, started my career, met Gary and started a family.” Justine says. “Man, I was busy back then.”
“I worked in retail and partied until I met my second husband. Then I was a trophy wife, my job was to look good and make my husband look better.” Lindsay says. “Rose?”
“I was pregnant the whole time.”
“That was my thirties” Sophie says.
“In my thirties I was raising four teenaged boys.” Barbara says.
“I was raising the girls and trying to keep them from either getting pregnant, contracting AIDS, or throwing their lives away on drugs.” My mom says.
“We weren’t that bad.” Charlene and I say at the same time.
“All three of you were always trying to get away with something and I’m sure you did. Gwen was the wildest one. Never could keep her reigned in.”
“Oh my gawd. AIDS. I don’t even think of that anymore, you don’t even hear about it much.” Justine says. “In high school it was all anyone talked about. Every celebrity was wearing a red ribbon and now there is a ribbon colour for every cause on the planet.”
“It eclipsed cancer in the media. I remember watching a daytime talk show, Oprah I think, where this little boy got it from a blood transfusion. Poor kid was dying and no one wanted him anywhere near their kids. He couldn’t go to school. It was as if he was unclean.” Mom says.
“Remember when people thought they could catch it if they used a public toilet, or drank from a public fountain. Everyone was so paranoid.” Justine’s mom says.
“I prayed every night my boys would be safe.” Barbara says. “AIDS was a terrible thing and everyone who got it was ostracized. It was the gay disease at the beginning. That along with gay men being beat to death, I remember being so scared that one of the boys would tell me he was gay. I didn’t have to be, thankfully, all four are good, healthy, Christian men.”
“You know Barbara, there is nothing wrong with being gay.” Justine says.
“Maybe not now, but back then there was. Gay bashing was an acceptable extra curricular activity, almost a sport. Now. God, now if anyone dare says anything bad about them, they take their lives into their own hands. The world has changed and not always for the better. Political correctness has made being a white, straight male a bad thing. I remember when my boys weren’t able to get the jobs they wanted because of Affirmative action.”
“By the late 90s Affirmative action was basically done away with.” Justine says.
“Glen wanted to be a cop, but they weren’t taking white men because there were no spots available for them.” Barbara points out. “Women and minorities got those positions.”
“That was because there weren’t many new positions opening up. Baby boomers weren’t retiring yet, that’s why Gary didn’t become a pilot, there was too much competition for so few positions.” Justine says.
“Gary would have been a wonderful pilot. We spent a fortune on his degree in aviation and he didn’t get a job.” Barbara says.
“I know. It wasn’t his fault there were so few jobs in that field.” Justine adds.
“Post Secondary was so expensive. I had to go to work to help put the girls through University.” Mom says.
“And I thank you for that.” Charlene says. “I wouldn’t be a lawyer if it weren’t for you and dad. Gwen wouldn’t be a C-level exec without it. I know we both appreciate it.”
“You think it was expensive then, have you checked the cost of tuition now a days?” Justine says. “I’m not sure how we’re going to afford to put both kids through.”
“Trades are where the money is now a days. If Harper can get an apprenticeship with a good trade he’ll be set for life.” Barbara says.
“And Emma?” Justine asks. “What do you suggest she do?”
“She can get some schooling to be a nurse or a teacher then find a man with a good job. She’ll be fine.” Barbara says and Justine glares at her.
What’s her problem? That sounds like a great plan for all the girls. I didn’t go to school like my sisters. I got married instead. Mom and Dad wanted to be fair to all their girls and since I wasn’t going to go to school they gave me a big wedding and cash for a down payment on this house. At the time I thought it was only fair, but now, I understand the sacrifice my mom made.
“Starting work at 40 was life changing.” My mom says.
“You were lucky to stay home with the girls as long as you had. When Gus was in grade school, Doug lost his job at the mill and had to take a lower paying job, so I had to go to work part time with the school district. Thankfully, it gave me the same holidays as the boys.”
“Twenty years in the dealerships gave me a sense of purpose after the girls were gone. Life would have been empty if it weren’t for work.” Mom says.
“I was in my early 50s when the last of them finally moved out. I didn’t think Gary was ever going to leave.”
“You loved having him live there.” Justine says.
“I wasn’t going to toss him out because he couldn’t find a decent paying job. It was so hard for him to find something. At least he didn’t go off and join the air force.”
“He would have been flying and serving his country if he’d joined.” Justine says.
“We would have supported him if he’d chosen to join and been very proud of him for enlisting. It’s just, I’m glad I didn’t have to worry about him going off to war.” Barbara says as she wrings her hands. “The first Gulf War was quick, but one never knew if there would be another one. The world was unstable after the wall fell, news was filled with wars and unrest.”
“When the first gulf war started,” Justine said. “I was worried it would be like the wars in the past and we’d all have to go. I was so thankful when it ended right away.”
“Everything was peaceful until nine eleven.” I say.
“As they say hindsight is twenty-twenty. Thank God the boys were too old to enlist for the army by the time we went to war in Afghanistan.”
“Nine eleven was a day I’ll never forget. We were so worried about Gwen and the phone lines were busy, we couldn’t get through. I was so sick with worry.”
“I remember. God. What a day.” Charlene says.
“The world changed that day.” Justine says.
The whole room becomes heavy, as we all are silent with memories of that day. I know my mom is reliving the horror of not knowing if Gwen was alive or dead. All of us huddled around the TV watching the news, searching for a glimpse of her, and any word. Too scared we’d miss something. Too horrified we’d see something. Not wanting to watch, unable to tear ourselves away.
Images of the people jumping from the windows to their deaths will forever be burned into my mind. Along with, the towers coming down, the people running, the dirt, the tears, the fear.
I don’t want to think about it.
“Gwen was just fine. She got out.” I say.
“Terrorists changed the way we live.” Charlene says.
“Hardly.” Betty, Justine’s mom, says. “I remember living under the terror of the bomb. Always thinking Russia was going to send a nuke our way and that by hiding under our desks we’d survive. There has always been the threat of war and fear that we’d die any minute.”
“You know I never thought the Berlin wall would fall or the world would be different than it was growing up.” Barbara says. “When it did fall, it gave us so much hope for peace. That didn’t last.”
“Hardly any time passed before the news was talking about the unsecured Russian weapons and speculation about terrorists getting their hands on a nuke. It was as if they expected a nuclear bomb to go off on any street corner.” Mom says.
“There has to be something less heavy to talk about.” I say. “Can we please change the subject?”

Shannon Peel grew up in Enderby, BC where her family’s root run deep. Growing
up where television was either non existent or very limited she
relied on books & imagination to escape into the world

She went to UBC to study and earn a general studies BA with a
concentration in Political Science and Economics. Macro analysis of
world events, social justice and human motivations became a passion
of hers. This passion is a driving force in all her stories, which
have political, economic, and social justice undercurrents.

After a career in the financial field she decided to stay home and raise
her two children until school age. In 2007 she return to the
workforce as a sales / marketing / advertising professional. She
currently resides in BC’s Lower Mainland with her two teenage

Shannon Peel is a creative, intelligent professional with a 20 year proven
track record in sales, marketing, customer relations, project
management, presentations, and communication.