She assumed those girls would always hate her. During the entire month of September, they’d said only two words to her, the new girl from Somewhere Else.

“I’m Jackie,” she said during homeroom. “Just moved here in August. My dad has a restaurant on 46th Street.” The three of them stopped chatting and turned slightly in their seats, far enough to see her without losing eye contact with each other.

“How nice,” the thin one said. She turned back to the giggler with coffee-black hair, who gave a knowing glance to the smirker, who was fishing a Tiffany necklace out of the avalanche of her vee-neck. They went back to chatting.

Jackie was conscious of her Maine hands covered with scars from the lobster pots, and her coils of hair that had never seen the inside of an East Side salon. She felt like Medusa, replete with red snakes.

October wasn’t much better. She tried inviting them over to her house. They could never make it. She called on the cell. They weren’t answering. She joined all their clubs. They remained aloof.

But then they invited her to a party for Halloween.

“It’s to die for,” said the thin one.

“Come dressed-up,” said the giggler.

“Don’t be early,” said the vee-neck.

Jackie was amazed. She couldn’t believe her luck. She went out that day and got a costume. She was the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland. She got her nails done and a nice coif.

“It’s a set-up, you know,” said Kate, her only real friend at school. “They invite you to a party, see? When you get there it’s over, see? No party. Nothing. What time did they tell you?”

“Ten o’clock,” Jackie said.

“That means it’s really seven.” Kate poked her. “Seven, get it? They hang out for a couple of hours then kick everybody out so they can hide and watch you schlep in.” Kate’s voice rose a half-notch and her eyes were misting. “Then when you’re good and stupid and think that maybe you got the wrong address or the wrong time or the wrong day, they come out of the bushes wearing those plastic glasses, the ones with the big nose and bushy eyebrows. They walk right up to you. ‘Is this the party you were expecting?’ one says, pointing to the other. They take turns. They keep saying it. Over and over.” The mist in Kate’s eyes overflowed down her cheeks. “It’s a barrel of laughs see? It’s a regular riot, see?”

She hugged Kate and took her home and told her she would see her tomorrow.

Nothing was going to stop Jackie. She got herself ready early and walked over to the party at nine-thirty. She was a lucky girl, she had to admit. Things in Maine had been perfect, with lots of quiet coves to sneak in and out of without anyone seeing. She could always drop her pots without attracting suspicion. With the move to New York, she wasn’t sure how things would work out. Now it looked like everything was going to be just fine.

When she got to the house, she was careful to go around back. It was dark and she clutched her shoulder bag tightly against her hip to keep it from jangling. There they were, sniggling. The thin one, the giggler, and the vee-neck, all dressed up like cheap call girls, hiding in the bushes with their glasses on. Jackie laughed. They were all late, late for an important date.

Moonlight glinted off the river not far from the house. Yes, she was a lucky girl. Her father owned a restaurant chock full of the tools of the trade. She had her pick of the very best. This wasn’t Maine, exactly, but it would do. It would do very nicely.

She took a deep breath and broke into a trot, skimming quietly along the grass on the balls of her feet. She picked up speed, almost upon the girls now, and reached into her bag and withdrew sharp steel.

She was going to the party. She would have ripping times in the dark.

"Going to the Party"
Copyright: © 2008 Robert Meade
Robert Meade is a transplanted Bostonian now firmly rooted in Mohegan Lake, in Westchester County, NY, with his wife and three children. He teaches at Loyola School in Manhattan. He won the Wordweaving Award for Excellence for his book, Daily Bread: Seven Days to aHealthier Soul. A published author of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, his recent work has appeared in Angels on Earth magazine and online at Guideposts and Apollo’s Lyre.
"Going to the Party" originally published at Apollo's Lyre.

No comments:

Post a Comment