Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Exotic( 08/08/13)
When the Party is Over
By Cheryl von Drehle
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In stark contrast Misty fulfills her name. She is shadowy and see-through, like the morning fog that clouded the day of her birth, and christened her Misty. Now the moment that Misty has dreaded her whole life has arrived, by text message no less.
“Bree going soon… driver will pick u up at 3”
Misty touches number 2 on her cell. “Danny? It’s Misty.”
“I know it’s you. You don’t have to announce yourself.”
Misty sighs. “I know. Listen, Bree is almost gone. I have to leave… .”
“You don’t have to do this, Misty. We discussed this. I thought you weren’t going.”
Danny is right. She owes Bree nothing, least of all a last minute vigil. Bree would be annoyed by her presence. Yet Misty feels compelled as much by Danny’s insistence that she not go as by filial obligation.
The “driver” is late, in the style of Bree’s usual disheveled sycophants. Perhaps ten years younger than Misty, he snorts as he opens the back door for her, ignoring the bag Misty heaves onto the seat before sliding in beside it.
“You the eager heir?” he smirks at her.
“You the latest infatuation?” Misty retorts, paling at the rudeness of her unplanned remark. The driver laughs, but initiates no more conversation for the remainder of the drive into the city.
The house emanates a Caribbean theme this year. Esoteric music swirls through the smoke as Misty peers inside the front door. She would not recognize her mother’s house if the driver had not dropped her at this door. Bree changes the décor frequently, to match her latest outlandish persona. Yet whatever Bree touches turns to Midas gold: Misty’s nemesis … the unfathomable celebrity status Bree has garnered based on beauty, talent and audacity. The empire accompanying that status will soon belong to Misty… ordinary Misty.
“Thanks for coming, love.” Raphael, Bree’s companion for the last decade, greets her with a warm hug. “You look more like your gorgeous mother every time I see you.”
Misty grimaces. She likes Raphael, but his effusiveness makes her feel twitchy. She does not want to look like her mother… or maybe she does. Perhaps that is why his comment disturbs her.
“How is she Raphael?”
His smile wavers. “Well, you know Bree. She will be entertaining them in heaven in high style..,” and then dissolves into a subdued tone, “… soon.”
Misty slips into Bree’s suite. She does not recognize the faded soul in the mound of magenta and scarlet feather pillows. Bree does not regain consciousness before passing silently over the threshold several hours later.
During the only hours of solitude she has ever spent in Bree’s presence, Misty ponders the well intentioned foolishness of Raphael’s remark. As far as Misty is aware, Bree never considered what might happen after death. Misty supposes Bree regarded “heaven,” if she ever thought of it at all, as another glamorous country to match her own outsized personality, a place to continue the glorious unending party.
Misty herself has no opinion of heaven, or what might exist beyond death. But she is pretty sure it will not be a party with Bree at the center.
Back home that night, she tries to explain herself to Danny. “I feel bereft. Bree defined my life, even though I hardly ever saw her. Now she is gone, I have to deal with her estate….” She drifts into silence as Danny begins telling her what she should do. They fight and then she does something she has never done before… she stands up for herself and tells him to leave.
In the ensuing silence, Misty paces as she ruminates over Bree’s untimely death. She wonders if there were other choices besides ordinary or exotic. Maybe she should reinvent herself, a new beginning. That sparks another memory. She goes to her bookcase and searches for an old book that a passerby gave her several years ago. Locating it, she sits down by the window, opens the ancient pages, and starts to read: “In the beginning… .”
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