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  • Dr. Emmanuelle Khoury,PhD

Short Story - The Dinner Party

Being open to new experiences and the surprises they might hold for us can bring a sense of wonder and help us work on skills such as flexibility. This story is about being open to the unexpected.


The Dinner Party

You show up at the dinner party. You look at the hodge podge group of people and wonder if the host chose nine random names out of her contact list, kind of like when people in the movies spin a globe and stop it with their index finger, and then decide that’s where they’ll travel to. You can’t know if it’s your lot to end up in that godforsaken destination or if you should spin again.

You sit down at the outdoor dining table. You notice that it’s set with simple, blue outdoor plates, a few candles floating in water-filled cups, and cut gerberas placed in small mason jars. Why is it always gerberas at these parties? String lights adorn the fence around the lush garden and you think that the host wanted it to look like she had grabbed the stars from the sky just for her party.

You laugh at a bad joke as you lay your beige linen napkin on your lap. Another guest doesn’t want to feel left out and continues with a dubious one-liner. You finally catch someone’s eye. She is sitting at the other side of the table. You take a chance and raise an eyebrow. She reciprocates with a wide-eyed look and an eye roll. You are immediate accomplices.

You notice the extravagant choice of wines on the menus laid out in front of you. You pick up the small, folded hard stock paper on your plate, with your name on it, and flick it towards you so that you use the corner to scratch your forehead while facing your new found conspirator. She picks up her place card and flashes it in your direction, mouthing her name, ‘Lisa’. Without missing a step, she turns to the man beside her and shares a hollow laugh with him before grabbing her large glass of red wine. You watch her take a sip, smile, and wink at you.

You pretend to listen to your dinner mate’s intricate story about the music he’s composing for an upcoming blockbuster film. He pauses, and you place your hand on his shoulder to hold his silence. You look at Lisa, hoping to captivate her with your gaze, to distract her from the conversation happening next to her. You turn to the blockbuster film composer, “I really want to hear the rest of this,” you lie. “But, I absolutely need to run in for a sec.” Before he can answer you, you’re stood up and you place the cloth napkin on your seat.

You walk through the short, thick grass, each blade prickling the tips of your toes. You walk through the double French doors, into the house, and turn the corner into the hallway. You wait. You think it is cruel how long you have to wait. After a few minutes you hear Lisa say, “I’ve left something in purse. Inside.”

She enters the house. You take a step out of the shadows, towards her, and together you walk out the front door, leaving the sounds of drivel and conceit to fade away like a crescent moon slowly disappearing from the night sky.

You think that maybe, in the end, the godforsaken destination doesn’t have to be so glum. You get it now. The permutations are endless, and this time, just maybe, you were ready.

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