The Divorce Party
The Word: Scissor
What was the appropriate gift for a divorce party, Dana wondered, looking at the invitation for Saturday night–champagne glasses toasting themselves on the front. Come celebrate my divorce!! This sort of thing made her feel rashy and embarrassed. Of course, Sylvia would have a party, to Celebrate her Divorce. Just as she’d had a new moon celebration for her daughter when her daughter had her first period. Lord, sitting up there on the deck in the dark, rattling a film canister full of rice with a bunch of middle-aged women… at least this would have alcohol.
Along with the dog, the Dylan, a calf-bound set of Shakespeare, what was currently upsetting Sylvia was that Peter had taken the Limoges which his grandmother had left him–place setting for 12, with plates, salads, soup plates, bowls, dessert plate, delicate cups and saucers, the works. “The works!” Sylvia howled. “What does a man with two friends need Limoges for? He eats over the sink, for Christ’s sake. When I met him he didn’t even have pillowcases that matched..”
“It was his grandmother’s, he probably just wants it,” Dana said, bracing the phone under her chin as she ran the blades of the scissors through a photograph of roses in a luxury lifestyle magazine that specialized in sentimentalizing England, collecting images to decoupage a tea tray.
“If that man ever has dinner for twelve, I’ll go over and wash the dishes myself,” Silvia said at the other end. “I’ll lick the dishes and dry them with my hair.”
Her oldest friend and her husband were divorcing, after an acrimonious marriage of 21 years. Dana had been a bridesmaid at the wedding, worn the unflattering gown of green satin. A lavish affair, at one of the best hotels in the city. Eight bridesmaids. Flowers from Edward Martin, string quartet. And now it was over.
Peter had always liked Dana, she wouldn’t be surprised if he called now that he and Sylvia were splitting up. But she’d tell him to buzz off. She’d seen plenty in the last 21 years. Pete was no prize.
What should you get someone celebrating a divorce? she wondered, cutting around the scallped purple margins of a Madame Vionnet rose. She would be damned if she’d buy a basket of bath products, that’s what everybody else would bring–bath products, gift certificates to day spas. All that soothing crap. Whereas Sylvia needed an alarm clock on a coffee machine. Wake up and smell the coffee, hon.
She thought of Peter and Sylvia the way they had been. Pete, funny and outdoorsy, Sylvia, brilliant and sweetly insecure. But Pete had grown reclusive and bullying, where Sylvia, gone to fat and appeasement, cultivated a brittle good cheer and new age spirituality.
Frankly, Dana was happy to see that marriage end. It had done neither of them any good.
The pages of the lifestyle magazine featured a romantic late-summer wedding, in Somerset or Kent. Dana had never married, had never even come close. Though she was always attractive, far more so than Silvia, or most women her age, keeping up her ballet, no children to drive or men to cook fatty hamburgers, no one to worry about but herself. She had given up on men sometime in the eighties, although flings continued to crop up every few years, the illusion she would ever marry had died long ago.
What she hadn’t expected after all those massive hotel weddings, and seashore weddings and forest weddings and midnight weddings of her friends, which she’d dutifully attended, forever seated at the singles table with the weird cousins–was that one day, they would all divorce, to a woman, and become single like her. Funny, she had pictured them all growing older, sending out photographs of families which extended and extended like grocery chains.
And instead, they were back by themselves, a condition that terrified them twenty five years before. Suddenly she was their guru. They called her, asking her for advice, tips on what to do in the evenings. Did she watch TV? Oh the tears, the first time they went to the market on a Saturday night because they had nothing else to do!
She arranged the scissored roses on the tea-tray. Maybe she would give it to Sylvia, with a set of champagne glasses, to celebrate the divorce. And a bottle of aspirin, for when the hangover set in.
© Janet Fitch 2010 all rights reserved
Part of a weekly series of short short stories based on a writing exercise, The Word. “Inspired by a simple word, chosen at random, write a two-page double-spaced story, using the Word at least once.”
Next week’s word is: BOWL