The engagement party is going surprisingly well so far. Mariam is dancing with her friends on the far side of the room, her dress fans out at her ankles as she spins. Her smile is jubilant, my baby sister with a smile brighter than the sun ready for the wedding she never dreamt about.

I am standing, as I always do at parties, in the back corner with the food. I’m not eating it, my stomach is doing somersaults, and any of those delicious snacks would only return to the party looking much less appealing if I tried. That witch is here: I know this because when she enters a room she brings with her a general air of iciness, that freezes the oxygen in the room and suffocates the joy.

There are things I’d love to do to this woman that would probably give my Catholic parents a heart attack. Murderous things. Things that would put me in jail for a very long time.

“My dear boy. May I have a word with you?”

Damn it! She’s approached while I was too engrossed in her imaginary murder to notice. I have little choice but to follow her now since we’re in public, I should have been more vigilant and avoided more successfully.Outside the wind whistles loudly, making its presence as an eavesdropper known.

“I’m not giving you any more money.”

If I’m surprised at my own confidence I don’t know what the word is for her reaction. It’s complete shock. Her eyebrows shoot up to the top of her forehead almost enough to sit on top of her head like a surprised cartoon, her vivid green eyes open wide and her painted lips drop open revealing her expensive whitened teeth.

She composes her face into her standard cruel smirk before continuing in a threatening low tone, like the humming of trains on their tracks.

“But my dear boy. You wouldn’t want you father to hear about that little incident with you and your… friend… James would you?”

She’s right. I categorically do not want my dad to hear about my ‘friend’ James. She smiles then, a sickly sweet smile that is honey laced with poison. She knows she has me ensnared. The thing is, I’m running out of money to give her and soon it’ll reach the point where I’ll have to do something else my father would picture as unsavoury in order to keep up the payments.

“I’m not giving you any more money.”

I’m calling her bluff, and she knows it. I am just an ant, and she is a vicious human being with her foot suspended over me.

“Well that’s just fine dear. I’ll continue to enjoy my son’s engagement party and begin planning my speech for the wedding – it’s bound to be an interesting one!”

Malice sucks all the colour from the world and mutes all sounds to a muddled blur of white noise. As she vanishes carelessly back into the party my thoughts are laced with a deep red anger. I will never see beauty again while that woman is around.

 

I found this scenario exercise online and really enjoyed doing it. The brief was to write a scene set at an engagement party, where the mother of the groom speaks to the brother of the bride.

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