Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: SOCIAL (04/07/16)
- TITLE: A Party Waiting to Happen
By Nicki Jeffery
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“Ready babe?” Tara rubbed her lips together and filled the bathroom with Estee Lauder’s “Beautiful” scent.
Ben grunted from the recliner. His brows furrowed behind the newspaper.
Heels clip clopped down the hall.
“Wow!” Ben dropped the paper into his lap. “Look at you, gorgeous.”
His delight turned to dismay as his wife snapped, “Be – en! You’re not even dressed.”
“You know it only takes me five minutes.” He left the room.
Tara sighed and scanned the contents of her shimmery silver purse. Long, manicured fingernails touched a perfectly wrapped and ribboned gift.
Moments later, Ben returned with a half-smile on his face. This time he sighed, keys jangling in his hand.
“Come on, it’s not that bad.” Tara brushed her lips against his cheek stubble.
“Maybe for you, Miss Social Butterfly.”
Tara rolled her eyes.
As they careened down the streets, Ben grew quieter. Tara’s face brightened as they pulled up at Sally’s place.
Stepping onto the curb, the full moon illuminated the nature strip. The sound of rock music led them around the house to the backyard. Men and women mingled around food tables, sipping alcoholic beverages. Mouth-watering barbequed prawns, calamari rings and seafood sticks were arranged on glass platters. Off to the side, a large chocolate mud cake tantalised the taste buds.
“Happy birthday, Sal!” Tara thrust the present in her friend’s hands after enveloping her in a bear hug.
“Thanks Tara. Hi Ben. Welcome.”
Ben kissed Sally’s cheek, “Happy birthday.”
Sally took Tara’s hand, calling over her shoulder, “Help yourself to everything, Ben.”
Feeling his stomach knot, Ben cracked open a beer and took a gulp. After a few awkward minutes standing alone, a guy approached.
“Sam.” He shook Ben’s free hand.
“You must be Tara’s husband.”
“We were friends at university. She hasn’t changed.”
The men gazed at the group of girls in cocktail dresses and high heels standing beside the present table. Tara’s guffaw could be heard above their chatter and the background music.
“How’s that?” Ben stroked his chin.
“Always the life of the party.” Sam patted Ben’s shoulder. “Come and pull up a chair, mate.”
Ben followed, his thoughts flashing back to their wedding day. His beautiful bride chatting endlessly at their reception. Her big smile as friends and family surrounded her. How he never worried about what he would say when she was near. Tara had enough words for them both.
“You right, babe?” she winked, passing by with a knowing smile.
As the party wore on, Ben hadn’t moved from his spot near Sam and the guys. His wife sat near him eating her meal. Then she was gone again, like a feather in the wind.
“Happy Birthday” was sung, followed by backyard karaoke. Tara enjoyed being in the spotlight, belting out the hits with her girlfriends. Ben shook his head, amazed at her confidence. He wouldn’t be caught dead onstage.
In the car motoring home later, Tara glared at Ben with wide green eyes. “Why don’t you try?”
“Huh?” Ben glanced at her briefly.
“Why don’t you try at parties?” Tara’s tone rose.
Ben was quiet.
“Grrr! You’re so frustrating!”
Ben yawned and turned the radio on.
“No!” Tara pressed the power button. “We need to have this out. It’s always the same. You don’t make any effort to socialise. It’s like you’d rather live under a rock.”
Ben frowned. He weighed his next words carefully. “I love you, babe. But my idea of recharging at the end of the week is watching a movie at home with you in my arms.”
Tara’s expression softened a little. “Sometimes I think you’d prefer to be a bachelor.”
“My days of pub crawls and parties are over, thank the Lord. You’re my party waiting to happen.” Ben reached for Tara’s hand. “I married an extrovert. But you can’t turn me into one.”
Tara pondered his words. “Two years of being married to you and you’d think we’d have worked each other out by now.”
“Babe, we’ve only just begun.”
Ben squeezed Tara’s hand as he blinkered in to the driveway. He breathed a sigh of relief. Time for his recharge.
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