Hen Party

Cocktails, Summer, Beverages, Silhouettes, Black, Red

Sasha was surprised her bridesmaids hadn’t blindfolded her before they had bundled into the taxi together. Rearranging the skirt of her red and black patterned dress before Amelia sat on it, Sasha bumped her shoulder into the car window. Pulling a face in pain, she watched her other bridesmaid, Dacey, shoving things into the boot then squeezing into the back seat with them.

‘Did you get everything?’ Amelia hissed, trying to hide her words behind her long brown hair.

Dacey nodded, her golden curls bobbing then shot Sasha a look, ‘It’s all good,’ she muttered.

The taxi driver got in and without a word, drove off. A trickle of India style music played through the speakers and set of beads clicked together around the rear view mirror. A light rain began to fall and he turned the wipers on.

Sasha looked out of the window, faking interested in the passing streets light by early evening sunlight. Secretly though, she listened into her friends hushed voices as they seemed to be double checking things.

‘They should be there when we get there now,’ Dacey was muttering.

‘And the food orders?’ Amelia whispered back.

‘All done.’

‘What about the…erm…ah..?’

Dacey shook her head and put her finger before her red lipstick mouth, ‘don’t worry,’ she uttered and winked.

Nervously, Sasha dropped her eyes from their reflections in the door window and started playing with the rings on her fingers. Her thoughts tumbled with what her best friends had possible planned and she prayed it was not strippers. That was something she firmly didn’t want to face tonight.

The taxi drove into Manchester city centre and the driver weaved around roadworks and traffic with only the skill a taxi driver can have before pulling up outside a bar and restaurant. Sasha looked out at it, but didn’t recognise the name or the view through the long windows. She could see large tables with white candles in glass holders, a front desk like area with a menu and behind it the start of a long bar, light up with large green shaded lights from above.

‘Stay in there a minute,’ Dacey shot over her shoulder as she bounced out, her curls flying everywhere.

Amelia followed her quickly and Sasha heard the clatter of high heels on the pavement and the two girls unpacking the boot. She saw them hurrying inside with things, speaking to a small white bloused and black skirt wearing hostess behind the front desk. Hands and bags waved for a moment then Dacey and Amelia started to hand things over.

Sasha turned away and watched a couple walking by. They were holding hands, talking to each other and smiling. They walked into a pub called The Black Lion a little further up, where a man finishing a cig was hanging by the door.

She noticed the rain getting heavier than the sound of taxi door opening again, drew her back and Amelia waved her out. Struggling, Sasha slide over the seats and got out. She stood on the edge of the pavement, pulled down her dress then excitedly followed Amelia in. The bar was warm and smelt of limes and vodka. There was a small group of people settling into a table beside the window, three men and four women poshly dressed up. Sasha walked further in and saw a larger group of women huddled around a half circle table.

Trying to contain her shock and delight, Sasha was swept up for a few minutes in greeting friends and family. Someone put a cocktail into her hand and she took a well needed drink. Tangy sweet fruit flavours danced on her tongue before she swallowed. Voices rose and fall around her and so did the clinking of glasses. She felt she was in a dream still though.

Totting in her very high heels, she leant against the bar, joining in parts of conversations and welcoming the stragglers. She finished her drink too quickly and placed the glass onto the bar. Amelia appeared at her elbow and ordered another one before Sasha could speak up. Then with that drink pressed into her hand and her mum taking her other one, she was led up the stairs.

Butterflies fluttered madly in her stomach, she had the urge to go to the loo then as she stepped into the private room, she saw a long dining table laid out with purple cloth, candles, wine glasses, cutlery, name cards and the little thank you presents she had made last week. Her breath caught in her throat then her mum led her to the head of the table and she gratefully sat down.

‘What do you think?’ Dacey asked as she rushed over.

Sasha nodded, ‘It’s very nice.’

‘The food’s on its way,’ Amelia added.

The guests circled the table for their seats and began talking with each other whilst inspecting the thank you presents. Sasha tried to take it all in, failed and took a few sips of her cocktail. An old family friend, began chatting to her and she fell easily into conversation.

The wine and food arrived and the air, which before had smelt of flowery soap and candle wax was taking over by the warm scent of chicken, soup and cheese. Sasha tucked in, recalling she’d no lunch and realising how hungry she now was. The starters were great, the mains even better and pudding the best.

After, Sasha sat back and enjoyed watching everyone talking. Then a photo shoot was in order and champagne arrived in small flute glasses to further clutter the table. Sasha posed, feeling like her smile would be glued on her face forever. Sinking back down, she reached for her glass.

Dacey stood up quickly and declared a toast, ‘Thank you all for coming! I just want to wish Sasha a happily ever after!’

Voices repeated Dacey’s words in a dim echo and the champagne was sip.

‘I would like to say thank you too,’ Sasha’s mum spoke up, ‘I’m so proud of my daughter.’

Sasha patted her mum’s arm and thanked her. They touched glasses and had a drink.

‘And now….’ Dacey said and walked quickly over to a large pair of doors that ended the room.

She flung them open and Sasha saw two smiling, half naked men standing there holding plastic bowls full of melted chocolate. They had little black aprons tied about their hips which read Nude Chocolatiers. The one of the left had three tattoos across his chest whilst the other one didn’t. They were both muscular but not overly so and they had short black hair.

Sasha giggled and felt an odd feeling of relief.

‘Hello ladies,’ the man with the tattoos called, ‘I’m Chad and this is Luke. Sadly we are not strippers, but would you like to come and join us in making some chocolate truffles?’

School girl like laughed filled the room and the women moved into the next room to take seats at a new table. This one had been sit up like a cooking school’s kitchen work bench. There were plastic bowls, wooden spoons, grease paper and little pots of cream at each setting.

‘Who’s the bride?’ Chad shouted above the racket.

Fingers and voices shouted and pointed at Sasha.

‘You need to sit here,’ Chad said and helped her into her seat in a very gentleman like way.

‘We’ll get you all drinks,’ Luke added and began taking orders for the bar.

Chad helped him and then the handed out the drinks. When that was sorted, they began to instruct the woman in making truffles.

Sasha didn’t think she had ever laughed so hard. There was chocolate everywhere and the bridesmaids, even though they had boyfriends, were flitting with the Chocolatiers. Even Sasha’s mother-in-law to be, who had been happily married for thirty years, joined in the funny and embarrassed her own daughter with over the top remarks. Sasha was grateful her mum stayed quiet.

Removing chocolate from her fingers afterwards, Sasha decided her bridesmaids had done a good job after all and her trust had been well placed with them.

Dacey declared it was time for drinks and dancing on the roof top garden before dragging Chad along. Amelia grabbed Luke before he could escape and the whole party made its’ up to the roof.

Sasha stepped out of the doorway and took in the scene before her. The roof top was actually turfed with fake grass and lots of plastic grey pathways were cut in leading around and through. Fairy lights hung from small trees and flowering bushes in large plant pots. Solar powered lanterns shone from a top of small wooden tables which chairs and benches were dotted around. A small waterfall was trickling happily in one corner styled like a desert oasis. Luckily, the light rain had stopped and it was a warm night.

Sasha looked over the wall and across Manchester. Lights from the apartment and office buildings shone into the night and she thought she could make out people behind the windows towering above her. Voices, music and cars all travelled on the wind. She took a deep breath, feeling slightly more sober.

This was what I wanted, she thought, everything has been so right for this night.

Bedazzled Part 2

Ice, Cocktail, Glass, Drink, Alcohol, Cold, Beverage

She stared into her drink, knowing just what the man smiling and chatting her up was after. Though, with a glance at her best friend who was talking to someone else, she also guessed what he’s real intentions were. Sighing, she wondered if for once she’d met a man who wanted her for her and not just her body or better yet to get in her best friend’s pants.

Deciding she had no choice, she finished her drink and smiled brightly before making an excuse and leaving.

Blind Date

I hesitate and a stop before the door. There is still time to turn around and go back. I look over my shoulder and watch the night crowds hurrying about. Each person or group of people seems caught up in their own worlds. Laughter fills the air alongside happy voices and the tapping of shoes. I turn back, sweeping away my fringe and give myself a pep talk.

Now, Ash there’s nothing to worry about, be brave, be normal. Be yourself. Have a good time, live it up a little. Try and stay lady-like, be polite. Don’t let them pay for all the drinks and don’t get drunk. If anyone offers you anything, even a lift home or to find you a taxi, say no. You don’t want what happened last time again, do you? No, don’t even think about it. Don’t go there. Stay with the now and let the past lay where it belongs, in the past.

I reach out for the door and notice my hand shaking, but before I can drop my arm back down, my fingers and palm are touching the door. I don’t have an option, but to open the door and go inside, or else I’m going to look like Superwoman trying to throw down with an unlocked door. Cue national embarrassment.

The door opens easily and I enter a noisy and packed bar. Some old rock ‘n’ roll music is playing in the background, almost to itself because no one is really here to listen to tunes. A woman in a tight pink frilly dress appears at my elbow and looks me over. Without speaking, I pull a folded sheet of paper from my handbag and offer it to her.

‘You’re late,’ she says in a matter of tone voice, that reminds me of a teacher’s.

‘I’m sorry. The bar is not the easiest to find. That map I received was badly drawn,’ I counter back using my best teacher voice.

The woman huffs at me and ticks something- my name- off the clipboard she is holding.

‘Your first drink is free. Show this at the bar,’ she declares and hands me a slip of paper.

She turns and walks through the crowd, a slight shake of her head and no doubt mouthing something bad about me.

I clutch the paper and my handbag as I stand like a statue and cast my eyes around the room. Men and woman are stood in pairs or groups, hands holding drinks and chatting away. I feel like an intruded, an uninvited guest at a party. I need to blend, just like I did in high school with pastels on a canvas.

I walk to the bar, lay my free drink paper on the damp, worn wooden surface and eye up the bartenders. They look like teenage boys, fresh from college and dressed like penguins. They are moving like hummingbirds though and their dancing movements as they serve drinks fascinates me. My turn comes and I order a rum and coke.

My eyes drift to the side and I see a group of four men, who have clearly come together. I don’t know how I know that, but I guess it’s from the way they are acting. It looks all ‘pal’ like and young men gawking at skirt and daring each other to be the first to talk to her. They are breaking the rules, you are meant to come alone.

I shake my head and sip my drink. Turning around results in no handsome prince bumping into me, just the view of the door and a cluster of people. I have to drift. Standing by the bar just looks odd, especially in this scene. I weave my way around people and hear snatches of conversation. The standard topics for people first meeting and being on a blind date. What’s your name? How old are you? What’s your star sign? Who are your family? Likes? Dislikes? Funny joke, that isn’t actually funny and you’re heard a billion times. Cheese chat up lines; here’s some money, go phone your mom and tell her you’re not coming home tonight.

I find an empty table and sit down on a straight back chair. I take a mouthful of rum and coke, swallow and take another. I’m probably going to need some more to get me through. I place my glass down and watch Cupid flapping about the room. He needs to shot an arrow my way for a change.

Acceptance

Hannah felt more anxious with every step. Her body wobbled and she wished it could be blamed on the nerves and not the fact she was obese.  Arriving at the restaurant’s door, she stopped to catch her breath and wondered if she should take her inhaler. Before she had a chance to make her mind up, the glass doors opened and a laughing teenage couple came out.

Clutching her handbag, Hannah stepped to the side and distracted herself with searching through the contents of the bag. The couple breezed past her, still laughing and heading off into the car park. Hannah couldn’t help but stare after them once she had pulled out the inhaler.

They weren’t laughing at me, she told herself firmly.

Taking the medicine made her feel calmer. She took a few deep breaths and then entered the building. Luckily, the double doors were wide enough so that she could just fit through the first one. The smell of melting wax, hot food and warm bodies punched her nose. She kept a steady pace to the small wooden desk and met the hostess’s eyes determinedly.

Hannah saw a flash look of shock cross the petite, blonde haired woman’s face and then it was replaced by a false smile.

‘Table for…One?’ the high pitched, fake happy voice chirped.

‘No…Two. I’m meeting someone. I hope…’ Hannah trailed off.

‘Erm…..Is the table booked? What’s the name please?’

‘I think so. Brook? No, it’ll be under his….Pete Langton.’

The hostess cast a look down a thin book, her finger rushing ahead. Hannah held her breath. I got the details right didn’t I? She questioned, Today, nowish, here. Maybe it was a lie? She felt her cheeks flush and was on the point of telling the hostess that a mistake might have been made, when that voice cut through her thoughts.

‘Peter Longton?’

Hannah paused.

‘He’s the only one close enough I’ve got here. He’s at the bar.’

They both looked over and Hannah spotted a large man smiling and waving at her. Relief flooded through her body. She smiled back at him, then turned to the hostess, who was looking very pleased and indicated to Hannah that she could go over.

‘I’ll call you when your table is ready,’ the hostess added.

Hannah thanked her and went to the bar. It appeared to be full and she had to squeeze past a loud group of young women and a kissing older couple. Coming to stand beside the familiar man on the bar stool, she felt her legs shaking. She rested her arms on the bar, almost elbowing another man out of the way.

‘Hello,’ Pete’s cheery voice said into her ear, ‘are you okay? What was that all about?’

‘Hi,’ Hannah replied shyly, ‘I’m fine and it was nothing. I just got a bit confused by the table booking. How are you?’

‘Good. Better now you are here. Drink?’

Hannah giggled and as the bartender came over, she ordered a diet coke.

‘I was worried you wouldn’t show,’ Pete spoke.

Hannah nodded, she had been feeling the same way and wondering if he was actually interested in her and a relationship.

‘It’s understandable though,’ Pete continued, ‘Our second date and meeting online.’

He grinned as if it had been a joke and then got off the stool. ‘Here, sit down.’

Hannah shook her head, ‘Its fine. I’d probably not make it up anyway.’

Pete chuckled and Hannah felt a wave of fear.

‘I know what you mean,’ he replied and patted his backside. ‘I barely got up and stayed on! This is my first drink too,’ he added tapping his beer glass.

Hannah glanced away, trying to hide her smile and laugh. She dropped her head and then turned back to him. Pete was a half a foot taller than her and had long black hair, which was similar to her own. A short beard covered the lower half of his face and his large eyes were brown. He had broad shoulders, large arms and a very round, over flowing stomach. Even though he was wearing black jeans and a white shirt, he reminded Hannah of a motor biker.

‘They said the table would be ready soon. I’m starving, are you?’ Pete asked.

‘Yes, I am,’ she replied and took a drink.

‘I’m glad we decided to meet again. I really enjoyed last time and I’m starting to like you.’

Hannah’s smile widened, ‘me too.’

‘Excuse me?’

They bother turned to the hostess.

‘Your table is ready, if you’d like to follow me please?’