“The Hostess”

Flash fiction by Nancy Stohlman

The hostess decided to throw a small dinner party, just the neighbors and a few friends, just something to lift her spirits. She made pot roasts and French Onion soup from scratch while he retreated to the basement.

There was a few weeks truce, an uneasy truce for the sake of the children, and then another all-night battle followed by a series of murder mystery parties, complete with costumes, wine tastings, realistic weapons rented by the hour, and yucca whipped into small hills as light and fluffy as French pastries.

By the end-of-summer-Hawaiian-luau, the hostess was holding back tears through her fake eyelashes and long, black wig as he moved his things into the spare bedroom: You invited them, you entertain them! he yelled, slamming the door. The guests tried to keep her glass filled with an assortment of specialty rums and freshly crushed papaya mixers.

Soon the invitations started going unanswered; the guests found excuses for not attending the 1950’s sock hop, the M*A*S*H party, the “1001 Arabian Nights” celebration complete with whole roasted goat. Come spring, the 25-foot-tall Maypole looked desolate, pastel ribbons hanging limply like unwashed hair.

But today, the sound of hammers. It would be the greatest party she had ever thrown. Everyone would come. A crew of a dozen was sawing, hammering, painting, and creating a to-scale facsimile of the Titanic. Another crew was bringing in 500-gallon tanks of water that would, at the appropriate moment, be released into the back yard, while the guests, in full pre-World War I formalwear (as specified in their invitation) would get into actual lifeboats and attempt to row themselves to the safety of the house. A caterer was reconstructing an iceberg two stories high, and, at 11:40 pm, the gong she rented would sound, the string orchestra would begin to play, the water would begin to rise and the guests would file into lifeboats, of which there would, of course, be too few.

Originally published by Pure Slush. Read original here.

Nancy StohlmanNancy answers The Hue Questionnaire:

What is your favourite colour? Why?

Red. When I was 10 I was told by the Avon Lady that I was a “winter”

Do you wear this colour? How often and when?

As often as I possibly can. Lipstick. Boots. Red sparkles if I can get away with it.

What does the colour suggest to you?

Wonder Woman at a voodoo German sparkle party.

What does it not suggest to you?

Barfing out the window of a moving RV.

How long has it been your favourite colour?

I’m pretty sure my placenta was red.

When does it work best?

Here’s the thing: Red is both celebrity and paparazzi. When a person walks into a room embodying red, everyone secretly feels better: Red has arrived. It’s kind of like when someone brings the Hot Damn Cinnamon Schnapps to a wedding reception. Maybe you wouldn’t have done it yourself, but you’re glad to know that someone else has, and you might crowd around that person and even take a swig because it will make your story better later.

When does it not work for you?

When I want to disappear. There are plenty of days I just can’t live up to the expectations of red.

How does the colour relate to you, or you relate to it? Are you this colour or is this colour you?

At my best, I am always red.

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