Installment 2

Tuesday morning at 10:00, when the truck with the party rentals backed into the driveway, Belinda was still in bed, a little weepy. Not sleeping really, but holding still enough to confuse anybody who peeked in her door. She might not get up at all today. She might stay sunk in her high-thread count sheets, steeping herself in a cocktail of comfort and dread. “Maybe if I stay quiet, they’ll go away.  And if I don’t answer the door for the caterers, they’ll go away too. I can sleep and sleep, and then it will be tomorrow.” She wasn’t feeling good about the party now at all. David had been so sweet, planned the whole thing for months, all by himself, really. He’d used some new software he’d bought to made a slide show of her, with baby pictures, photos of her at summer camp, the two of them in college, all the way through the kid’s birthday parties and the summer vacations. He hadn’t let her see it yet – but the kids said it was terrific.

Last night, it felt funny in the house. David had come home distracted, weary and sad in a way she’d never seen in twenty plus years of marriage. He’d offered barely a word beyond the necessary at dinner, and then gone in to watch Red Sox alone. This morning, he was out the door before six, for an early meeting with a board member. Did she suddenly look old to him? Now that she was actually turning fifty? She couldn’t blame him. She felt old, and ugly too. The dress she’d chosen for the party was too filmy and flirty for her. Too pink. What had she been thinking when she bought it at Saks?

Her cell phone rang, vibrating off the night table. The party rental guys needing direction about where to set up the tent.  Up, and out, back into the doing of the day. Susan pulled on yoga pants and t-shirt, calling out  “Down in a minute. “ Then, another call. From Jack, her older brother. He’d left his wife, which was not news. But he was calling to say that he was bringing his new thirty-two year old girlfriend to the party, which was bad news. “No way, Jack. It’s too much. Mavis is coming too, you know,” Belinda said, “And your kids. The last thing I need is a confrontation at my birthday party, you a-hole.” Jack did the predictable thing and said that if he couldn’t bring Christina, he wouldn’t come either, and thanked Belinda for being “so supportive” before hanging up on her. Question: why do girlfriends always have names like “Christina?” Belinda shrugged as she walked out to the backyard. At least the sun was shining, one less thing to worry about on what was shaping up to be a stressful day.

The tent was gorgeous. Big, with white peaks, reminding her of the tents the English kings set up for battle on the banks of the Irish Sea. Maybe the party would be fun. Wonderful fun. She’d call David and tell him how excited she was. Surely, he was out of his meeting by now.  Hmm, his cell didn’t answer. Odd; he always picked up her calls now he’d programmed it to ring “Puff the Magic Dragon”. Okay, she’d text message him instead – Alexis had just shown her how to do it on her new Blackberry. David would be impressed that she’d mastered it so quickly. But still, it was odd that he didn’t call her back…another call. This one from her massage therapist, Sergei. He was coming tonight to the party tonight too. Maybe inviting him had been a mistake given the odd vibes in their last session, where Sergei had spent half of the time working on her  “glutes”….

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