“Are you happy?”
The party is vibrant. The record spins; the lights shimmer; the room is overflowing with quiet joy and books bound in green covers. Champagne glasses spill over. It’s 1950, and all the pieces of this broken world have fallen into place.
But is she happy?
Memories come back in flashes. Library romance. Swirling snow. Spilled coffee. Strained socialite gatherings. A newborn baby on her hip. A stolen engagement ring, stuffed in a drawer beside the address to the nearest pawn shop.
This is her party. And tonight she relives each precarious stepping stone she took to arrive here.
The Champagne Glasses file is 100% free to download, and it is only available on this page. No third parties = no cost to you.
The story will download as a 21-page, mobile-friendly PDF file on your device. iPhone users: you can even save the PDF to the Books app to read as an ebook.
Download here, or scroll down to read the first page before downloading!
Page 1 preview of Champagne Glasses:
Champagne glasses spill over, and gold jewelry twinkles in the neon lights flickering through my mother’s dusty floral curtains. The way we’re dressed, you’d think we’d invited President Truman himself to our party. My green dress, velvet, hugs my sides tightly enough that I can’t relax my stomach and walk away with my dignity intact. It lived in my closet for years, stuffed on the top shelf to collect dust with my dreams. Today is the day I brought them back to light.
The room is dim because we unplugged the lamp to power a record player instead, and the neon sign across the street casts the room in an emerald glow. The swing tune sweetens the air and fills my veins with piano trills and triumph. This cramped little den has, for tonight, become a vast marble ballroom.
In the midst of the party, my eyes are drawn to my husband, my beloved man with stars written in his beloved face. The second man I’ve ever loved. The buttons in his plaid vest are practically screaming for release against the holiday weight their wearer has denied for four months. He’s dancing. He’s trying to make me laugh again; it’s working. I love him.
Mother herds a little girl out of the room and “back to bed at once, young lady, at once!” My brother Tom Nichols whoops at no one in particular; he is drunk already. Laughing, I shush him; Penny is going to bed, I say. I want to get drunk myself in mere celebration. I won’t, though. I can’t risk losing a single memory of this glorious day to alcohol.
The record gently introduces us to a crooning love song. Unexpected for a party setlist, but it’s Tom’s record, I think, so who knows what’s on there?
The lovely man in the plaid vest catches my eye, and mirroring my smile, he comes over; to dance with me, undoubtedly. He has to step around a table laden with books stacked haphazardly in my mother’s attempt to form my first initial, N. It doesn’t match any letter in the English alphabet as far as I know. Moments like this are why the cliché “it’s the thought that counts” was created.
My husband takes my hand in his, and his smile glitters in the sharp green light of the room. He has to lean close – tall as he is – to whisper in my ear.
“Are you happy, love?”