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Rachel's Dinner Party

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The assigment was to imagine a social disaster and write a story about "your most embarrassing experience," fiction or not.  

 

Rachel's Dinner Party

                                                              Linda Eisele 2002

 

     Rachel lived with her husband, Ronald, in one of the more elegant suburbs of London in 1905.  Ronald was a pleasant man who enjoyed fox hunting on weekends.  Rachel's lover, Paul, was a successful painter who lived with his wife and five children in the country.  Her boyfriend, David, was a playright, brilliant but cynical.  Wounded by too many women, David was determined never to be hurt again.  Rachel believed he would die alone, a bitter old man if he did not take care.  Her pet project had been to make sure this did not happen. 

     At a business supper with Ronald, a new man attracted Rachel's attention.  Recently married to a young Austrian countess, Trevor was ten years younger than most of Rachel's acquaintances.  With a broad, open smile, flashing white teeth, piercing blue eyes, blonde hair parted and falling to the sides, long in front and short in back, he reminded her of a musician or composer, a Beethoven or Chopin, but he was, in fact, an architect.  It was Rachel's secret delight to invite David, and Paul and Trevor with their wives, to a dinner party at her home.  To provide a companion for David, Rachel included her cousin, Sylvia.  

     The cook was instructed to prepare the most extravagant dishes.  Servants set the table with the finest linen and best silver.  A superb bordeaux was brought from the wine cellar.  Bouquets of lillies decorated the sideboards.  The guests arrived at 7 p.m. by carriage.  The butler took the cloaks and canes from the gentlemen, the wraps from the ladies, and showed the guests into the dining room. 

     When all were seated, Rachel surveyed the company with the greatest pleasure.  Here in one room, at one time -- her favorite men!  What could be more delicious?  The conversation warmed with the wine, the men discussing politics and business, the ladies exchanging gossip about servants or children.  Rachel nodded, listened, smiled.  It was for her a perfect evening.  Her painter had never seemed more charming, her playright more arrogant and proud, her young architect more dashing.  And Ronald was as gentle a host as any wife could wish for.

     Then Sylvia yawned and sighed.  "Rachel.  When are you going to tell David about Paul?" 

     Davids mouth fell open.  "What is this?!" he demanded, the red rising to his cheeks.  "Have you betrayed me?!"

     "What is she talking about, dear?"  Paul's wife asked.  Paul's horror-stricken face betrayed him in an instant.

     "Rachel, do you have something to tell me?" Ronald demanded, indignantly.

     Rachel's eyes opened wide.  "Sylvia, what are you trying to do to me?"

     "So!  It is true!  How dare you!  I will never see you again!"  David stormed from the room.

     "I will speak to you about this when I get you home!"  Paul's wife rose, dragging Paul by the scruff of his collar.  "Thank you, Ronald, for your hospitality, you poor man," she glared at Rachel.  "And you!"  she glowered at her husband.  Paul's eyes met Rachel's in a last, desparate glance just before he, and his wife, disappeared from the room.

     "Well, I say!"  Rachel's husband pushed his chair back from the table, stood up, coughed into his handkerchief.   "I am terribly sorry my dear, but you really must excuse me.  I will be sleeping at Mother's tonight.  My lawyer will be by in the morning to speak to you."

      "I am afraid we really must be going."  Trevor's wife stood up, cheeks glowing.  "This is all so very awkward.  I am terribly sorry."  Rachel followed Trevor and his wife to the front door.  As she shook their hands, Trevor pressed something onto her palm.  Rachel watched them climb into the carriage and drive away.  Unfolding a slip of paper, she read, "May I call?"  Turning, she found herself face to face with Slyvia.  She opened her fist.  Their eyes met, smiling.

    

An alternate version of Rachel's Dinner Party is available for  animal lover's and children. (Are you really supposed to be up this late?) Just click on the "Rachel's Lunch" link, right here.  ;-)
 

Rachel's Lunch