Age Ain't Nothin' But a Number

 Age Ain’t Nothin’ But a Number


I pulled into the garage, hauled my groceries out of the car, managed to get the kitchen door open without breaking the eggs and stopped cold. The hairs on the back of my neck stood at attention. Something was wrong. The kitchen light was off. I’d left it on. My breakfast dishes were washed and stacked in the drying rack. I’d left them on the table. The pocket door to the dining room was closed. I’d left it open. I heard whispers coming from the other side.


Memories of another life and time flashed through my mind. I pushed them back as I’d done for so many years. I lowered the groceries to the floor, slid the leather purse off my shoulder, opened the flap, grabbed my Glock 19 and tiptoed to the dining room door.


With the gun in my left hand, I used my right to slide the door open. I stepped through, lifting the gun with both index fingers on the trigger. Two things happened at the same time.


My family yelled, “Surprise!” 


I yelled “What the fuck!”


They were all there; cousins, nieces, nephews and the video game obsessed, no-talking grandkids. I lowered the gun. “What the hell are you all doing in my house scaring me half to death?” 


The first words out of my daughter, Bunny’s mouth were, “Ma, why the hell do you have a gun?”


“Self-defense, why else,” I snapped.


Bunny waved toward the cousins standing in front of the prized mahogany table I inherited from my aunt Doretta. They stood aside to reveal a sheet cake covered with white icing. Behind the silver letters spelling out Happy Birthday was a large candle in the shape of the number 75.


“It’s your birthday. We wanted to surprise you.” Bunny’s face was beginning to show signs of irritation that threatened to match the ones on my face.


“Birthday! It’s not my birthday and what makes you think I’m 75!” The words flew out of my mouth before my inner Whoopi Goldberg could say, ‘Molly, you in danger, girl.’


“Your birth certificate,” said Bunny. I watched her lines of irritation morph into confusion.


A ‘shit hitting the fan’ sensation tightened around my chest. No-one else said a mumblin’ word.


“And where’d you find this birth certificate?” I got out through shaking lips.


“From the desk in the den where you keep the family papers,” she said with an air of where else would it be?

I could feel the ‘shit hitting the fan’ sensation sink to the bottom of my gut. “I told you those papers were private and not to be looked at until I kick the bucket.”


I know Ma, but I had to sneak-a-peek because you never tell anyone how old you are and I wanted the cake to be pretty and accurate.”


“Well, Bunny, the cake is pretty but it’s not accurate.” The ‘shit hitting the fan’ sensation sank to feet that were itching to turn tail and run. Instead, I whispered, “That’s not my real birth certificate.”


“For God sake’s, Ma, why on earth would you have a fake birth certificate. Where’s the real one? And how old are you really?”


Oh, boy, I thought. I had no intention for any of this to come out until I was long gone but it felt like truth tellin’ time or just enough truth tellin’ to let me off the hook. I sighed and said, “Better sit down everyone. I guess I have a story to tell.”


Once everyone was seated on the dining room chairs, the window seat and the floor, I began at the beginning.


“Bunny, before I met your father - - God rest his soul,” I paused and took a deep breath. “I worked for the CIA.”


I paused to wait for the reaction I knew would come. It did. The gasps, nos, whoops and what-the’s released enough air to fill a weather balloon.


“The CIA! Doing what?” Bunny asked,


“I was an operations officer.”


One of the cousins, I think her name is Dora. I never could keep everyone straight asked, “What does an operations officer do?”


“I can’t tell you. It’s classified.”


Groans and oh, boy’s followed my statement.


Bunny’s eyes narrowed. “Did you work in D.C.?”




“Where then?” Bunny demanded.


“I can’t tell you. It’s classified.”


“Is that where you learned how to use a gun?”



Danny, my oldest grandchild put his smartphone down, actually looked at me and said,

“That’s dope. Did you ever kill anyone?”


“I can’t tell you. It’s classified.”


“Totally lit,” he said before disappearing back into the screen on his smartphone.


I looked around the room at expectant eyes in startled faces. All I could do was look back and wait.


“S-o-o-o,” said Bunny, “where is your real birth certificate?”


“The CIA has it. It’s protocol to keep your cover even after you retire from the service.”


Bunny put her hands on her hips and rolled her eyes. I half expected her to take off her earrings. The image gave me an internal chuckle taking my stress level down a few notches.


“Well,” she said. “since we’re talking truth, mind telling us how old you really are?”


I did mind. If they knew how old I really am they’d take away my Glock, push me to sell the house, move me into a senior living facility and expect me to quietly play Bingo until I croaked. No thank you! So I fixed my lips into the biggest smile I could manage and said, “I’m really pleased you planned a surprise birthday party but as Aunt Doretta used to say, Honey, age aint’ nothin’ but a number. And mine is still classified. Now, let’s eat cake.”


Beth Gibb



After years of working for media, higher education and non-profit organizations, Beth Gibbs, M.A. is ‘free-tired’ and pursuing her passion to write fiction and nonfiction for mainstream audiences. She is an author, speaker, yoga teacher and self-awareness trainer who uses her energy and sense of humor to inspire, inform, and entertain. Her work has appeared in The Connecticut Literary Anthology (2020 and 2021), These Black Bodies Are - - - A Blacklandia Anthology (June 2023) and The Journey Writers Literary Anthology (to be released August 2023). She is the author of three books: Enlighten Up! Finding Clarity, Contentment and Resilience in a Complicated World, Soul Food: Life-Affirming Stories Served with Side dishes and Just Desserts, and Ogi Bogi The Elephant Yogi: Stories About Yoga for Children

 Enlighten Up! was a first place winner in the 2022 San Francisco Book Festival, a first place winner in the Mind and Spirit Non-Fiction Guides Award, a second place winner in the Firebird Book Awards and the BookFest Book Awards, and a finalist in the International Book Awards and the Next Generation Indie Book Awards.


  1. Beth I really enjoyed the story it was very well written some of the sayings reminded me of what my mom and dad said

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