The End of the Party

The call flashes on the screen, the sound covered by people yelling over loud music. The room is pressed with excited sweaty bodies dancing and laughing, table hopping to talk to everyone. Awards litter the centre pieces or are held aloft. Passed around supportive friends and colleagues. Someone yells a greeting as you step out into the bright hallway. The closed door muffles the noise enough to answer. But your ears are still ringing and you ask them to repeat themselves. A stranger tells you a story. They give you some contact details before signing off. Nobody stops you as you find your purse. A clap on the shoulder and you turn. You force a tight smile onto your face. In the lift the mirrored walls make you look pale.

Your bag is packed and a taxi called. You changed and scrubbed off your make-up, brushed out the elaborate hairstyle and tied it up. The letter you’ve written for your boss is sealed in an envelope. You leave it at the desk on your way out to be delivered later. You see two friends but hold back the impulse to call out when they don’t notice you.

It’s busy for such an early morning flight. An attendant had to walk you onto the plane and guide you to your seat. They try to be thoughtful and attentive but there are other passengers making demands. A message is waiting when you turn on your phone. There’s no need to hurry now so instead you ask the taxi to take you home. As you go inside and turn on a light in the empty house you breath in deeply. It’s familiar and comforting. You know it will never smell like this again.