Another challenge from my Pens Up, Fears Down writing workshop: Write a 2-page story with the prompt about an uninvited guest showing up early to a party.
I am standing in front of my dresser, silently cursing myself for not being a grown-up yet. Why don’t I have a decent jewelry box that holds everything I need? I quickly picked up earrings and a necklace that was spilling from the box. I surveyed myself in the mirror and nodded, pleased at the way the jewelry sparkled against my black dress.
“Sean, can you zip me up? I call out to my husband. He jogs up the steps, secures me in my dress and doesn’t even wait for me to do my obligatory spin and “Well, how do I look?” before jogging back down to continue watching his game. I shake my head and follow him downstairs.
I was arranging the hors d’oeuvres and asked Sean “Do you think we have enough food?”
“Yes, and if there is anything else we need, I can go out and grab it.” he reassures me.
“I know you’re right. I just want everything to be perfect for Mom. She is going to be so surprised!”
“I know. And she deserves it. You know what? I do think we need more ice though.”
“Hurry back, you know my sister will be right on time. “
Sean left and I paced the floor. I started fluffing pillows and refolding throw blankets. A couple of minutes later, I heard a frantic knock on the door.
“I bet you that is Ash. She just had to be early.” I muttered aloud as I raised up on my toes to look into the peephole and then I stumbled backwards. Definitely not Ash. It was our father. Why is he here? I huffed to myself…And how did he know to come here tonight?
The bell rung and there was another loud knock. I could not bring myself to wrap my hands around the knob. My fingers were shaking. It’s like he has a radar for when things are going well for her, well for us. Even through the doubt and wishing Sean was home to deal with him, I decided to push through the hesitation. I can’t just leave him on the doorstep, exposed to the whole neighborhood. He probably would just stand there and wait to shuffle in with the throng of guests. I turned the knob.
“Hi Daddy.” I said softly.
“Hi Sweetheart, he replied, tucking his gift underneath his arm and stretching the other out for a hug. I received it reluctantly.
“So, you just stopping by?”
He just stared at me instead of answering and then proceeded to walk right past me and set his gift down on the table.
“Ash invited me. And I wanted to come. I haven’t seen your mother in two years. I just want to say Happy Birthday. This has gone on too long.”
“Daddy, I don’t want any trouble tonight. You can leave the gift. I’ll tell her it’s from you. You are free to call her if you want. No guarantee she’ll pick up. But just call her. I only want to see Mom smile tonight.” With that, I took his hand, hoping the sting of the door I was now holding open would be softened.
“Yes? I bought her a vase. She always loved them, it’s to put flowers in. I never gave her enough flowers.”
I nodded and watched him as he walked into the night, his head down. I picked up the box, felt the weight of the vase.
“It’s to put flowers in.” I repeated aloud.