Party of One



Becky surveyed the table. All the same potluck foods lined up in a hodge-podge of a mess. Sweet and sour meatballs languished in crock pot nestled next to a platter of celery stuffed with cream cheese. Really? Who brings something like celery to a party?

There really were other places Becky could be tonight. Like home. With a book. In front of the fire. The thrill of parties had long since died in her, but this one was different. This one had possibility. Homecoming weekend always drew the old classmates back to the fold.

A group of guys bumped the end of the table. An apple fell off the top of a basket and plunked into a bowl of red Jello. A blob flew up and landed on Becky’s white sweater.

She threw a distasteful glance at the men, and her breath caught. There he was. Matthew Holland. Warmth swept up her neck and into her cheeks. His Polo cologne mingled with the tangy aroma of the meatballs and danced around her nose. Her mind drifted back to the few dates they’d had in high school. When Matt kissed her on the front porch that last date, Becky thought her life was set. He never called again. But he was busy getting ready for college so she didn’t worry too much. If she waited patiently, surely he would one day remember and come back to her. She moved closer to his end of the table.

“I’m just saying, Dallas is all in this year. Be surprised if they didn’t go all the way.”

“I disagree, man.”

Ugh. Football talk. What was it with men and football? Becky looked down into an empty silver platter, frowning at her reflection. The red blotch on her sweater glared at her and she dabbed at it, smearing the mess even more.

Matt patted Rick on the shoulder. “You can disagree, but that doesn’t make you right.” He shuffled to the right and stabbed a meatball with his fork. “Oh hey, Becky. How are you?”

Becky smiled. There’d better not be any spinach in her teeth from the dip. “I’m great, Matt. You look fab—”

“Matthew. It’s so good to see you.” A redhead approached with her arms open for a hug.

Matt set his plate on the table and swooped the woman into his arms. Her giggle jingled across to Becky. “Rachel. Oh my gosh. How are you? We had so much fun the other night. We should go out again soon.” He continued to hold her tight as she whispered in his ear.

Becky’s smile dropped off her face. She turned away as tears formed. People jostled all around her. Lady Gaga blared from the speakers. The room felt oppressive and sweat popped out on her temples. Becky pushed through crowd until she reached the front door. She found her coat in the closet, and slipped out before anyone could see the tears that now ran freely down her face.

One day he would remember, he had to.