Friday, 22 June 2012

'Garden Party' by Kymm Coveney

Rain falls in even musicality on the High Street, white noise to the thunderous clinking of bottles under dawn’s borrowed window. Female voices carry up from the yellow kitchen. Three old women, each a decade apart, are having tea in dressing gowns.
She will not give them another decade.

Charlotte waits for her at the lush, hidden end of the garden, behind the radishes and bamboo shoots. They have juice, a large pot of coffee and a basket of French croissants. There are jars of homemade marmalade.
Birds flit in and out of the tall, fat cypress tree.
‘Like an apartment building,’ Charlotte says, ‘in and out all day. Off to work, bring home the worm, off again.’

Aiming for a bohemian look to tend Charlotte’s gallery, she carefully puts on the clothes selected days ago from the closet at home, and lines her eyes in black.

Downstairs, the front parlour is now a sanded floor with one overstuffed armchair and a square wooden table recovered from a dumpster. Sunlight streams through the front window and lies in panes on the floor, across an unframed print.
She softshoes the length of the walls, studying the paintings, formulating gallerista commentary, then settles into the armchair and boots up the laptop. Behind her, in a corner of the floor between the radiator and a brightly-painted end table, sits the radio Charlotte has tuned to the Bloomsday broadcast.

Stately plump Buck Mulligan.

At the other end of the afternoon she is called to photograph the table. Candlesticks line up as one, divide the table into repeating images of mirrored, sparkling wine glasses.

Her name tag is placed exactly where she would have changed it to, were she that kind of guest, that kind of person.

She strikes up a conversation with a tall beauty who is far too young for this party.
Rather than confess ‘I have no idea what to do with my life,’ as she might have, certainly must have, the young woman says earnestly, almost forgivingly, ‘I’m searching for a way to express myself.’
‘What is it you love best?’ she asks, offering her only advice.
‘That’s just it,’ comes the answer. ‘That’s where my research is taking me right now.’
A smile flashes and fades as the dinner bell rings.

She finds, in conversation, that smooth, rational logic rolls off her tongue in perfect, reasonable sentences. The future Nobel laureate to her right nods thoughtfully.

Ruby Tuesday plays in the corner cleared for dancing when she succumbs. Couples lean in, wrap their arms around each other. The Rock Star unbuttons, then abandons his shirt.
Three middle-aged men follow suit.

She sits quietly in the darkness of the gallery, the rain putting an unironic end to the deep night. She is not huddled and puking in the gutter.
She sits in the artist’s armchair, hardly noticing as her head begins to loll and she fades to black saying yes I will Yes.

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