Friday, December 17, 2010

Vignette: RSVP

When the bell went unanswered, Henry unlocked the door and fumbled to push the bakelite lightswitch. "Emily?"

The chandelier struggled to life. Emily blinked at him from the depths of the chaise in the corner. "Hey. Wow, you wore a suit?"

He pulled the chain of the standing lamp by the coat tree. "Were you asleep?"

"How was the party?"

"People asked after you." He peered at the label of the 78 on the phonograph, and gingerly rotated the switch. He watched until the needle landed safely, then added over the scratchy sound of drums, "They were worried. I tried to call your cell."

"Did they miss the spanakopita?"

"Spanakowhat?" The song started to skip. Henry stepped away from the phonograph.

"Those little puffed pastry spinach things. I was going to make some for the party, but I forgot them in the oven."

"I thought I smelled something."

She frowned at him as the same drumbeat repeated over and over. "Are you going to get that? This is one of my favorite songs."

He took another step away. "I know."

She got up, wiping her hands on her shirt, and approached the phonograph. "Who else was there?"

"That cousin of yours, the one with the hair. And Doctor Goldmark, and a lot of old ladies from the church. Did you fall asleep?"

Emily tapped the needle ever so gently. The drumming finished, and a mellow-voiced woman started to sing. "Doesn't sound like much of a party."


She frowned down at the record. "What? Why are you talking? This is the best part."

"Emily, I just came from Clara's funeral."

Image: By Norman Bruderhofer. Wikimedia Commons.


  1. I want you to know I've read this. I keep reading it. I feel foolish because I don't know what to say. I think this is too smart for me. Is the deal that she is old and senile?

    Regardless, I love how you reveal so much through dialogue alone. I keep trying to write some dialogue because of you, and it all ends up description. So you'd better keep doing it. :)

  2. Yo, Happy Dog! No, I don't think it's too smart for you, it's just utterly lacking in context. :) It's not so much a vignette as a slice--a scene that belongs in my 2009 NaNoWriMo novel, but I never actually wrote the scene. Emily's reacting to her Aunt Clara's death (Aunt Clara from the Coriolis Effect vignette a few weeks ago) by developing a rather loose grip on reality. Henry went to the funeral; Emily didn't show, and has redefined the event as a party.

  3. I'm happy to have read your comment before posting my own. That gave me a bit of perspective.

    Even out of context, this is a fascinating slice.

    - Lauren

    Ladaisi Blog

  4. Thanks, ladaisi! I suppose that the lack of context might have been a not-quite-planned experiment: If the context _were_ guessable, that would have been really cool. But I think that would have required telepathy. :)