Pete’s initial call rang out over two weeks ago. His party of decade was planned and ready. Invitations would follow via email in the next few days.
It was a rainy, grey morning when Hillary opened her invitation. It had arrived in her inbox overnight. She stared at the words, trying not to feel superior as she counted five spelling and grammatical errors in the text. Pete was not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
‘Brad,’ she yelled. ‘Did you get an invitation to Pete’s party?’
Pete was Brad’s brother. They were close; they lived together in this very house until Hillary came on the scene, and things got serious. Pete packed his things and went to live with a friend. Hillary was never sure if he resented her arrival into Brad’s life or if he was cool as a cucumber.
‘Nah, don’t think so.’ He was still in bed, groggy and croaky.
‘Have you checked your emails?’
She paused a beat. ‘Well,’ she said, trying to keep the impatience from her tone. ‘When you see it, let me know what you think.’
Hillary busied herself in the kitchen. She made soup, pasta for dinner and cupcakes for no reason at all. She hated to cook and bake. Then it hit her: she was ambivalent about Pete’s party.
The whole world had been closed for business for months. Countries were raising their heads up, warily and slowly. It was as if the heads of government were playing a toddler’s game of hide’n’seek with the virus. Is it here? Have we eradicated it?
Hillary wasn’t sure that the virus was over. And Pete certainly was a laid-back character at the best of times; she doubted he would take care to disinfect his home, his crockery and glasses.
This party could be a disaster. All attendees could be the next Aspen 9. Hillary just didn’t have it in her to be a news headline, treated like a social pariah.
‘Brad?’ she yelled again.
‘Yeah, still haven’t seen the email yet.’ His voice was terse.
‘I’m not going to go. I don’t think you should either.’
Brad groaned into his pillow.
Hillary knew she’d be up for a battle, but she was not prepared to risk her social status, or her and Brad’s health. They were trying for a baby. No way would they attend Pete’s party.