Friday, November 28, 2014
What If You Gave A Party....
What was that terrible noise? Vivian struggled to pull out of a dream in which she was falling off a cliff, where people standing at the bottom were laughing at her. Realizing the noise was her alarm, she groggily reached over to the nightstand, slammed her hand down but missed and knocked the clock on the floor where it continued to wail.
This day, a very big day, was not beginning the way she hoped it would.
Vivian had moved into Lost Lake Estates two months ago - after her husband died in a hunting accident - and she was having a party. She'd invited just a few neighbors, because she hadn't met her neighbors other than to say hello, and she wanted to do something neighborly. She didn't much like parties, though, and she really didn't like people, so that was a bit of a problem.
Lost Lake Estates was a planned community for people over 55. It had existed for about 30 years so most of the people who had moved there when they were 55 were now dead or heading toward 85. Vivian was only 65, and from what she could tell, was one of the youngest people in the whole of Lost Lake Estates.
Nevertheless, at her age, and being alone, she needed friends, people she could depend on to help her if she got caught in a crisis, like falling down and breaking her leg. Vivian had a terrible fear that one day she would fall and not be able to get up.
She'd sent out invitations. It was to be a small dinner party, beginning with hors-d'oeuvres at 5 o'clock. Dress was casual. Come as you are, in other words. Alcohol would be available. She'd found a beautiful candelabra at Macy's for the table center, bought some new, colorful dishes, also at Macy's, and had located a caterer who guaranteed he would produce the best French gourmet food to be found anywhere in Florida.
But she still had to clean. Everything had to be spotless! She was going to make a huge impression. People would be talking about Vivian and this party for years!
By two in the afternoon she was exhausted and collapsed on the sofa and fell asleep. She dreamed, but in this dream she was inundated by uninvited guests coming to her party. All the food disappeared in minutes, wine spilled on her gorgeous white carpet, dogs brought by some guests made their own deposits on the carpet, two lamps were smashed - she didn't know how - and then everyone left without saying a word.
She awoke in a sweat. It was 4:18. She still had so much to do. Suddenly she realized she had neglected to ask her invitees to RSVP. No one had called to say they were coming. Oh well, if they didn't say they weren't coming, that no doubt meant they were coming.
Vivian, at one time, had been slim and trim, but over the years she had broadened out and, well, she was rather chubby. She never thought of herself as fat, though. But whizzing around the house, brushing at the last particles of dust, rearranging photos and knickknacks, she started to wheeze and cough.
She ran for the bathroom to get a Kleenex. The doorbell rang. Aha! The caterer had arrived and was on time. Pierre was his name and he brought the food into the kitchen in stages, laying it out in order of precedence so Vivian would know how to proceed with the dinner. It smelled delicious. It was also very expensive, but worth every penny Vivian thought.
At 5 o'clock, all was ready. She was ready. She had freshened her makeup, her hair, her dress and was very pleased with herself.
At 5:01 it began to rain. At 5:02 the temperature dropped 20 degrees. At 5:05 the winds started. By 5:10, she heard a terrible howling outside and she saw trees bending. A palm tree crashed to the ground in her front yard. The windows rattled and the front door shook in its frame. Her cat, Mamie, became a furry blur as she rushed from her perch on the couch to hide under Vivian's big four-poster bed.
By 5:30, Vivian was still alone. The power had gone out. The rain was torrential gradually turning to sleet. The sky was black.
It didn't let up until 9:00.
Vivian got her camera and took a picture of her table. She had given a party and no one came.