A to Z 2016 · Fiction

C is for “The Cartwright Dinner Party”

A fiction prompt this time! Or, at least, I’m taking it as a fiction prompt.

I’m not entirely sure of the source of this prompt, but here it is:

 

Write something — anything — that includes the following five words/phrases:

urged
When the servant entered with the soup
show him the way
zeal
dead flies

 

Maybe it’s the fact that I just finished reading Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, but this combination of words gave me impressions of a poor attempt at a proper dinner party on a muggy tropical island night. It’s just a short scene, but it feels like it could be a nice jumping off point for a short story.
c
The Cartwright Dinner Party

“Darling, are you certain this is still a good idea?” I looked at my reflection in the humidity-mottled mirror and adjusted my bow tie.  “This weather doesn’t exactly correspond well with formal attire.”

“Calvin, I told you – Lord and Lady Cartwright do not care about the weather. They care about propriety.” Rebecca swished through the dressing room doorway, lovely in a gown of a pale green hue. But just looking at her “proper” layers of skirt made the back of my neck begin to perspire.

She waved one lace-gloved hand at me and gathered her skirts with the other. “Come, dear, they’ll be here any moment.”

An inaudible sigh and I followed her down the narrow hall. The buzz of insects outside, beyond our candlelit rooms, was near deafening. As she hurried through the dining room, she flicked a few dead flies from the tablecloth. “Horrid little things.”

I moved toward the parlor, hopeful to sit in my chair with my pipe for a few moments, but Rebecca followed, reciting the evening menu at me – again – with zeal.

“I’m still unsure of these natives and their cooking, since Mrs. Draper was unable to stay due to her poor health. But to put on a proper meal, as Lord and Lady Cartwright would expect, we needed someone to do the cooking. We couldn’t very well do it – did you hear something?”

 I could; the faint sound of hooves and wheels.

“They’ll never find us behind all this foliage. Why didn’t we ever find one of those homes on the main street?”

“Because you couldn’t find one that you thought big enough, darling.”

“Go on out there, dearest, and guide the driver,” she urged. “Show him the way.”

I stepped out in the oppressive heat, the fabric of my suit sticking to every covered inch of my skin. Between the long tropical leaves, I walked along the two barely visible dirt tracks, curving away into the dark night.

“…but when the servant entered with the soup, we were astounded to find they had forgotten to lay the spoons!” Lady Cartwright’s voice carried gaily across to me on an island breeze. “An utter disaster of a party.”

As the carriage approached, I idly wondered why she was recounting such a tale to her husband, and it only occurred to me as I came to the window – they were not two, but unexpectedly three.

Rebecca will be horrified.

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4 thoughts on “C is for “The Cartwright Dinner Party”

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