FICTION: My Party Starts at Seven by Andrew Miller

Six O’clock

It’s only six o’clock and since my party starts at seven, there’s plenty of time to review my preps, have a glass of wine, relax. This is the first time I’ve had the office people over, but it shouldn’t be that hard. My older sister Hanna gave me lots of hints on how to put on a good party. But I’m still nervous. I’ll just have one small glass of wine—don’t want to be tipsy when folks arrive.

I’ve invited everyone. Our director, his executive assistant, the senior scientists, the technical staff, the field crew. They’re all big eaters, especially the young men and women in the field crew. They eat as much in a single meal as most people do in three.

Yesterday I went to Ross’s Wine and Cheese and bought my hors d’oeuvres. The woman in the cheese section suggested a triple cream, a hard and a semi-hard, plus a wedge of Huntsman. She told me to set the cheeses out early; they taste best at room temperature. I also got summer sausage, smoked trout, and three different kinds of crackers. In the wine section, they suggested Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, so I got three bottles of each. White wine should be chilled and reds should be at room temperature. I was glad to learn that and won’t put ice in red wine like I did at the office picnic last summer.

Mr. Ross told me that Mike’s Liquor was the place to go for beer. I didn’t expect to get beer at a liquor store, but he was right. Mike suggested a six pack of Porter, one of Stout, and three packs of ale. After leaving Mike’s I went over to Fresh Market and picked up a tray of sliced fruit and one of raw vegetables.

The people at Ross’s told me to open the reds early to let them breathe. I’ll have just one more glass—still plenty of time.

Six Thirty

My guests will be here in half an hour. I was going to start this thing at six, but that seemed too early. I wanted it to be later so people would be hungry when they got here. Having something to eat right away helps get the conversation started.

The music is set up on the CD player. I picked out easy listening, country, stuff from the sixties, some musicals, even a couple of classical pieces. It shouldn’t be too loud, otherwise it drowns out the conversation. What will folks talk about? They usually talk about movies and current events. I watch CNN and go to lots of movies, so I’ll be able to join in the conversation.

Last week I went to see Tyler Naumann in that play at TheLittle Theater. When he comes tonight I’ll tell him what a good job he did. Maybe he’ll ask me to come and help with costumes or scenery, perhaps be an usher. I was in the senior play in high school. A small part, but it was fun. Mother told me to try out for a bigger role in college, but I never did.

Might as well have another glass of wine.

Seven O’clock

Most people don’t get to a party on time. If you get there too early there’s no one to talk to and you could end up helping the hostess. That happened to me at Natalie Weber’s New Year’s Eve bash. I was there before everyone else and she asked me to set up the buffet. I helped a lot during the evening—even stayed to wash dishes.

The flowers look nice. They were expensive, but they’ll stay fresh for another week. The woman at the flower shop said, ‘Buy what you like, that way you can enjoy them after the party’s over.’

Time to light the candles, turn on the CD player.

Seven Fifteen.

I didn’t expect everyone to get here at seven. My parents were always late to social events. That seemed rude to me, but they didn’t care.

If beer is left over, my parents will take it. My father doesn’t drink as much as he used to. But Mother drinks a lot. I’ll keep the wine.

Seven Forty-Five

This will be a very fashionable party. Tomorrow I’ll call my sister and say, ‘Hanna, no one came ‘til eight. And they ate everything in sight! Luckily, I had plenty.’

I didn’t get mixed nuts. Just as well, there’s so much concern about allergies these days. Best to stay away from nuts.

Eight O’clock

I just set the fruit back in the fridge. I’ll restart the CD player. It takes about an hour to cycle through everything. I like the music and don’t mind hearing it again.

Eight Thirty

It’s odd, but a car stopped out front. They backed up, flashed their headlights on my mailbox, then drove off. Maybe they were lost. I should have gone out to see if they needed directions.

Eight Forty-Five

Whew, I’m thirsty. Probably drank too much wine. I’ll have a glass of iced tea. Good thing there’s plenty. It’s sun tea, my favorite.

ACM-Sep2017

Andrew Miller retired from a career that included university teaching and research in endangered species and aquatic habitat restoration. Now he has time to pursue his long-held interest in creative writing. He has published in Literally Stories, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Temptation Magazine, The Fair Observer, Gravel: A Literary Journal, and Fiction on the Web.

Twitter: @Perrywinkle2040

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