Then and Now by Angela O’Connor


Angela’s response to the trigger ‘then’.

Then and Now by Angela O’Connor

The party starts at 9pm. It’s 7.45 already, I haven’t washed my hair! Panic sets in. 15 minutes to wash, about 20 to dry then make-up, shit I don’t even know what I’ll wear.

‘Just put on that wool jersey tunic, you know the green one, or what do you call it “sage”. It’s got a great neckline if you know what I mean. Throw those new cream trousers on that you came home with yesterday.’

‘What about shoes?’

‘Mmm, ah yes these strappy bronze sandals, you haven’t worn them since last summer, at our party, go on they’re sexy. Perfect, you look gorgeous darling’. The smile in Steve’s voice was reassuring.

‘Thank-you, you are too kind. It’s just, well, I haven’t been out in ages. And look at the time now!’

‘Look, you have to calm down Georgie, it doesn’t matter if we’re late, sorry, you’re late. People are people, all of them our friends. Anyway, don’t they say it’s fashionable to be late.’

The words ‘true, very true’, massaged my mind as I gave myself the once over in our unforgiving full length mirror. It would have to do. I tried to remember when smiling came easily, gone, gone like my joy. I really need to change the wattage in this room.

I arrived at 9.38pm, late but fashionably so. So, with customary bottle of wine, a dry white from New Zealand, I sauntered up the driveway following the fairy lights, acting as my luminary guides.

Classic Phil Collins was playing with gleeful streams of laughter bursting out at regular beats. Surprisingly, I felt at ease – calm almost.

‘Ah Georgie, you’re here, it’s so good to see you! Let me take your things for you’.

‘This is for you Anne, happy birthday’.

‘Thanks, Georgie, my favourite white, from the Marlborough region, you are a good mate. How are you anyway?’

‘Good, yeah a lot better, thanks. I’ve even managed to stop the meds’.

‘Wonderful, that’s great news … baby steps. It’s been a horrible year, but am so very happy you made it tonight. You have to start interacting again babe. Look, help yourself to anything, everyone is here, I’ve got to rescue some vol-au-vents from the oven’. Anne leaves after a quick kiss and embrace.

An hour has passed and I’m standing, by myself, at the French doors gazing into the party at the party goers. Observing them but not being one. Detached and weary is how I feel, even in a great neckline! I want to leave. Then I feel you near me, you whisper in my ear ‘I’m sorry I left you, left us, too early but remember my love, I’m with you, always’.

I dry my tears and join the others, the music has changed.

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