It had started as a celebratory Happy Birthday card insert, the glitter, or confetti rather. Just as little something to make her girlfriends smile when they opened their cards. And that very first card, it was a surprise and everyone smiled and laughed and yelled “Happy Birthday,” again, because they’d already been through all that multiple times. But anyway, after the second card the next month with more confetti, it became an expectation. So every time they got together to celebrate a birthday, there would be her card and there would be the confetti.
After the first year though, she realized that maybe it was time to stop. She’d gotten glitter this time, agreeing that confetti had “been done” the year before and now something new was needed. An upping of the game if you will. So she used glitter. And maybe, although unlikely, the glitter would have been okay if they’d been sitting outside on the patio of a restaurant or perhaps even in the backyard of the birthday girl, but instead they were in her home, in her living room no less, when the card was opened.
To be fair, her Ladies Who Lunch group had become accustomed over the prior year to shaking their cards before opening them, shaking their cards and their heads with one of those knowing and obligatory half-smiles. So the birthday girl in question had shaken the card. And she’d heard…something. She just wasn’t sure what. She knew it wasn’t confetti, they’d all heard that sound enough over the past year to know the sound, but she couldn’t quite determine what the actual sound was. There almost wasn’t a sound, she was beginning to think the card was safe when she caught the sound of…something.
Very gingerly the envelope was opened. Very carefully the envelope was held and peered into. And while everything appeared shiny, there was nothing particularly worrisome found in that glance. And so it was only as the card was being extracted, only as the first grains of glitter began to fall that the ensuing chaos of the situation could be felt.
Glitter, as you well know, is a nightmare of long term proportions. It isn’t something that gets vacuumed or swept up and life goes back to normal. Glitter is a thing that finds its way into every crease of your skin, every fiber of your carpet, every everywhere. Glitter is the worst possible gift that keeps on giving.
But it was too late to stop what was happening. Even as one or two women began to notice the shimmery specks fall to the floor, it was too late. Even as she reconsidered this upping of her game, it was too late. Even as one woman launched herself from her seat in an attempt to catch the falling sparkles from hell in her wine glass, figuring it was better to have to dump out her drink and get a new glass than to have to terminate the party early due to disaster, it was too late.
The glitter went everywhere as the card was opened. Everywhere as the glass of wine stretched out in an effort to save the day, spilled and gave the glitter a wet and sticky ride to further reaches of the room. Everywhere as the birthday girl stepped back in surprise, her arms automatically rising above her head to steady her and so she could more easily see the woman now prostrate on the ground before her, the wine seeping into her carpet, the glitter now a swiftly falling cloud around her head.
It was by now much much much too late to do anything about the glitter. And yet, she found herself thinking, “huh, that was perhaps not the best idea.”
But that was neither here nor there.
The thing is, it happened. And while it only happened the once, the Ladies Who Lunch had apparently decided it would not happen again. Only she was the last to know.
It would have been simple really for the Ladies to simply cut her out of the next get together, or at least the next birthday lunch get together. Easy. But they didn’t. She assumed her profuse apologies had paved the way for her continued invitation, but she should have known, perhaps even did have an inkling, a feeling somewhere that something wasn’t quite right. But if she did she ignored it. And that’s how she came to be here.
It was Gilda’s birthday lunch. Gilda who always chose The Cheesecake Factory. Always. But here they were in Gilda’s home. Not just in Gilda’s home, which she’d never been invited to not once in five years, but in the depths of her home. They’d all been given a tour, a tour that culminated in the basement. Not one of the Ladies was missing. Not even Fran who’d had a bit of a falling out with Gilda two years ago. Everyone was there. And everyone was in black.
Everyone except her. Had she missed the memo? Not only was everyone in black but the entire basement had been covered and draped and clothed in plastic. Not like a couch covered in your grandmothers plastic, more like, oh she knew she’d seen this before…it was like what painters would use to keep the floors from getting paint on them. Oh, there it is! She remembered now, it was the plastic she’d seen in that HBO show about that cop and his son and the daughter and the son ended up being a cop but also a murderer, what was that show…Dexter! Yes, Dexter.