Today seemed like a day when everything should have been perfect. The sun was blazing in one of those too blue romantic skies and there was a playfully teasing warm breeze. The urge to just get outside and soak it all in consumed me.
And that was when everything went wrong. I feel out of the bed, bashing my knees on the harsh carpet and after shaking that off, I slipped in the shower. My legs now red and slightly bruised, I ended up putting on crop jeans instead of my new sexy mini skirt. Taming my wild curling brown hair into an up do that some how made it looked like I didn’t care, followed.
Breakfast was another episode; the crumbly remains of cereal at the bottom of the box, gone off milk and a dirty spoon. Abandoning that, I got a breakfast snack bar and a glass of water and went outside in the garden. Hot yellow light poured over me, making me feel better. I sat on a very abandoned and lonely looking wooden deck chair in the middle of the lawn. Which thankfully, didn’t collapse on me, but groaned so much like my old great grandma, that I give up on it as soon as I had finished and went back inside.
Having no plans for this Sunday and caught by the unexpected weather, I decided to see who’d be up for a garden party. That was like my fourth fail of the morning. I selected a few people on my phone and sent them texts then whilst waiting excitedly, went through my friend lists online. I typed a few messages to people, a couple of friends I’d not seen in ages, an old ex, who I was still sort of in connect with, my hairdresser….Okay, that was an accident, but still, it didn’t matter.
Phone still in hand, I called up the note page and began listing things I’d need to do and buy. My mind hummed with this picture of a classy Sunday evening party. The men all around the small bbq, drinking beer and eyeing up the cooking food. The women clinking flute wine glasses, helping to bring out the salad and bread. The table! A huge wooden bench with a nice patterned cloth and center piece of flowers in a vase.
My phone beeped a texted and I picked it up. My ex had replied. Sorry, got a date tonight. My heart fluttered then sank. A date?
With who? I texted back without even thinking.
You don’t know her. Meet online.
The words burned before me. I placed my phone down and wondered if it was too early to have a little drink. Shaking that idea away, I got another glass of water instead and thought about seeing if any of my neighbors were interested in coming over. Of course, I’d need to go and see them about borrowing some chairs anyway.
Getting up, I noticed my black cat pad into the room back from his night time escapades. He meowed then jumped on the sunny window sill and watched the birds darting about the tree. Ignoring him too, I went into the hallway and slipped on my shoes. Going out, I tripped on the door frame and windmilled outside. Somehow steadying myself, I looked back trying to figure out what had happened.
Toeing the door frame, I pulled the door to and called on my first neighbor on the right. Rattling the gate, I saw her car was missing and wondered if she had taken her kids somewhere. Knocking on the door, my mind cast back and I wondered if a newly singled mother of three kids would want to come to my garden party. I hadn’t really tallied kids in….
No one answered the door. Turning, a tried the door next down, feeling more gigged as the whole street knew that a party loving girl lived there. I rang the door bell and waited. And waited. Finally, a bleary eyed, heavily beard and very naked man opened the door.
‘Is Connie in?’ I asked, trying to look around him or anywhere else for that matter.
‘In the shower.’
‘Well…er…I’m having a small party later and I was wondering if I could borrow some garden chairs? I’ll call back later.’
I backed up, waved a little and scampered off.
With my cheeks still red, I made my way down the other side of the street with little luck. Going back home, I checked my phone and found a few people had replied with yes and two more had said they couldn’t make it. More notice next time, please. One had even added.
Pulling a face, I decided to go out and get some food. That would surely clear my head of Mr. Naked Beard Face. Grabbing my things, I head out and jump in my little car. It takes a few moments for the engine to start up, but then I’m off and stuck in traffic.
Staring out of the windscreen, I look at the long line of cars facing both ways. What’s happened? Some kind of emergency? Knowing, I’ll probably never know, I join the queue and make it twenty minutes to a normally five minute drive. The supermarket car park is packed too. Nabbing a space, which turns out to be a mother and baby, I jump out and hurry in before anyone notices my lack of child.
Cooling fans greet me with their whirling breeze and after collecting a trolley, I’m off in a mad cyclone of people and food. Did everyone decided to suddenly come here? I grit my teeth at a screaming child and snatch up some chicken wings from under an old man’s nose. I throw in some burgers, sausages, chicken kebabs – which there’s never enough to go around of. Then I get some chicken drumsticks before remembering a vegan is coming. Sighing, I wonder into the fruit and veg and select a few things. How come a picky eater decided to come? What can I offer her?
I get some rice and a few other things, then hit the party section. They don’t have any pretty cloth table covers, but there’s plates and cups and cutlery. Loading those in, I avoid some chatting mothers, who are letting their kids play with balls in the toy section and make my way to the drinks. There’s too much choice. But I get some white wine and red, some mixers and some beer. Did I asked people to bring stuff?
I pull out my phone and check. Nope. Listing everyone up again, I send messages to that request and go to the tills.
‘Having a party?’ the depressed teenage girl behind the desk asks me.
‘Just a small one,’ I reply.
‘Looks like everyone else is too….’
‘The weather’s nice,’ I blurt and began packing.
‘I guess so…’
She fixes me with dark, having-seen-too-much eyes and scans my items. I hurry away, still feeling her gaze on me. I load the car and get in, having clocked someone waiting for my parking space crawling up. It’s too hot inside, so I opened the windows then sit off. Arriving home again, my cat is still on the window sill and if it wasn’t for his gently breathing, he’d be mistaken for being dead.
Getting sorted and ferrying everything from car to kitchen. I go into the living room and pick him up. He’s still alive and he gives me that look of oh my god did you just awake me? What are you thinking? What do you want? He tries to claw at me, but I carry him into the kitchen and place him outside. He sits looking rejected before trotting off.
I spend the rest of the day preparing and answering any messages that come through. Finally, everything is ready to go and someone knocks on the door. I hurry to answer it and find my neighbor Connie and Mr Naked Beard Face waiting for me.
‘Hi. Ken said you needed some chairs?’ Connie opens with.
I nodded, ‘I’m having a garden party.’
‘I could only spare four,’ she said pointing them out.
Ken is stood next to the stack of them, avoiding my eyes. Clearly he remembers what happened this morning.
‘That’s fine. Do you want to come in?’ I ask.
‘Sure, but we can’t stay long….’
I welcome them in and Connie directs Ken into the back garden.
A few moments later, some else arrives and the flow of people keeps coming. In my head, I begin to count and something tells me I didn’t invite this many…Wait, do I even know that guy with the Bon Jovi t-shirt?
I stare, trying to figure him out then someone taps me on the elbow and asks about food. As normal, some of the men have taken it upon themselves to show off their inner caveman and have got the bbq under way. It doesn’t take long to direct people to things then I’m back trying to find out more about my Bon Jovi fan interloper.
Checking all the rooms, I bump into Mr. Naked Beard Face coming out of the bathroom.
‘Sorry,’ I mumble.
‘About this morning…’ he starts.
‘No, it’s fine,’ I wave him away and check the bedrooms. No sign of interloper.
Out in the garden again the smell of smoking and cooking food hits me. I nibble at a muffin, eyeing my guests. Laughed rings in my ears and I turn to spot my hairdresser with Mr. B J Fan. Hurrying over, I butt into their conversation and get introduced to him as her boyfriend. Mystery solved.
Letting it go, I enjoy myself. The evening glows on and even though I didn’t get the picture perfect garden party I wanted, it seems to be going okay. Then of course the real partying breaks out and everyone seems to get drunk too fast. Loud music pours out my CD player, like a big finger pointing out the source of all noises. People sing and yell, someone starts throwing drinks about, there’s a queue for the bathroom. Midnight rocks up on the clock face and somehow I’m not drunk enough to come back to my senses and kick everyone out.
On the doorstep, Mr. Naked Beard Face, AKA Ken, turns to face me as Connie wobbles down the street clutching half a bottle of wine.
‘I’m sorry about this morning. I just got up and I didn’t think…’ he says.
‘It’s fine. It happens. You should go and help her,’ I nod over at Connie, who seems to have dropped her keys and is swearing loudly.
He stares at me, unsure about it then he turns and goes over to help her. I shoo the rest of the people out as taxis pull up and others do car shares with what I hope are sober drivers. I close the door and lean on it. My house smell of smoke, beer and sweaty bodies on a hot summer’s night.
I go into the living room, avoiding the mess and sink down onto the sofa. Someone has left their jacket on the arm chair and there’s a split cup of something pooling on the window sill. I shut my eyes. I drifted then the cat wakes me with a paw to my face. Hugging him, I take him upstairs and collapse on the bed, my dreams strangely full of necked beard men.