"This would be her last meal with them..." I glanced back over my shoulder and noted her big sunny smile and twinkling golden hoops hanging down loosely from her left ear robe. She told me before she left my side to join the most boisterous bunch of wine drinkers in the middle of the dining hall, that this rare form of this incurable disease, she whispered so softly I could not hear a word of the actual name, was going to take her before the first snow would fall this winter. She even pulled out the latest doctor bills from her purse, as proof. “Do not tell anyone,” she stared straight into my eyes and gave her orders, then turned around. Sweet smell of onions wafted out of the pot as I kept stirring it on low heat, a friend’s baby shower was just warming up.Melissa and I went to high school together, and of course I wished for her demise more times than I really should admit. But I never imagined that it would actually happen so soon, only a decade after finding her charming the math teacher in the hallway of the student center building, on the evening of our Junior prom. I was on the Games Committee and was on my way to get extra party hats from the stock room. As I hurried down the corridor and turned the corner into the hallway, there she was, wine bottle in one hand, the other wrapped around the teacher’s soft curly hair, her golden earrings glittering in the fluorescent lights. It would have been just another typical awkward moment, another story to liven up the reunions with friends, only if the math teacher wrapped around her were not my father.
"This would be her last meal with them..." She hoped. The tuxedo-ed dude across the way was talking about something, about the war or some dam thing. To her left, two academics were thankfully ignoring her, as they conducted an animated pissing contest about deconstructionism. She wondered what would happen if she dumped her magma-hot coffee down the tux man’s crotch. It would be social suicide, of course, but maybe fun, and worth it if it got her out of here. She calmed herself, got her mind in equilibrium. She was the master of her brainstem, as she had learned from all those hours and thousands of dollars she had shoveled into the gaping maw of the mental health-industrial complex. Which she wouldn’t anymore, but God. Those days were over. For now anyway. She took a long pull at her wine, a funky-ass bourguignon, ancient and ludicrously expensive, as she knew from the dude on her right, who was some kind of wine bore. She’ heard the price, then forgot it, then lost interest entirely, then forgot where she was. All she knew was , it must be expensive as hell, because it stank of mildew and tasted like yeasty years, like the rotten grapes of time. With birdbath and horseshit notes, funky old lady underwear, and a jock-itch finish. The wine guy was staring at her with his head cocked — whoops, had she spoken out loud? She tried to remember, trying to pierce the swirling wine fog. Anyhoo — granny gonch or not, this stuff did the job.She looked around at the other diners. There would be plenty of time for crotch-dumping after the next course, and another bottle of wine, she decided.
This would be her last meal with them. It didn't take a genius to realise that. Mr and Mrs Hamish - her with her squeaky-white pearls and blue rinse and he in his three-piece suit, more mustache than face, both sat up so ramrod straight they probably wouldn't bat an eyelid if you inserted a pole up each of their arses - they hadn't exactly warmed to her. She didn't entirely blame them.No, she blamed Hamish, the man himself, currently attempting to burrow himself into his ridiculous pseudo-artsy cravat before either party could decapitate him. What a coward. What a wretched, craven, sexy, sexy coward. There was no way he would ever wrap his sexy, sexy coward's body around hers again."Och well, might as well make the most of a bad joke", she thought, reaching across to where they'd parked the frightfully expensive Chateau de Collapso and pouring herself as generous a measure as physics would permit. Mr Hamish had earlier pronounced it "really rather splendid", before - and she hadn't even touched a drop by this point - whinnying to himself.She looked up, laughing to herself, and froze. The entire table stared back, except Mr Hamish, whose eyes had become unfortunately fixated on the squid captured in mid ink splooge tattooed between her breasts as she'd swooped on the bottle."Did I say that out loud?"