There’s no way she’s going to make this right.
This is what Jaymie thought as she surveyed the mess. Strange how, not so long ago, Jaymie and Maggie were planning a run-of-the-mill, surprise twenty-fifth wedding anniversary party for their mum and dad.
Jaymie was in charge of contacting the wedding party, which took some doing. Four bridesmaids and grooms men, by now all married themselves and only a handful living in the same city as Jaymie’s parents. But she’d done it, and all but Mum’s maid of honour—who was an ex-pat in Brazil—were coming along.
Maggie had looked after everything else: the venue, invitations, menu, balloons, drinks. A party of this magnitude had to be handled carefully. Or so she’d said. Condescending bitch. As if it was beyond Jaymie to pull something like this together.
But Jaymie had done what little sisters the world over always did. Kept quiet, bided her time, stored the insult in her memory bank and got one with her tasks. As the date of the party edged closer, she met guests flying in from interstate or overseas and took them to their hotel.
The morning of the party dawned bright.
‘At eleven, you need to drive home and collect Mum and Dad. You remember the line to get them to come with you?’ Maggie stood with her hands on her hips, her head tilted to the left. Her eyes flashed with a crazy brightness.
Jaymie bit her tongue to stop herself responding with a snide comment. She drew breath, and simply replied, ‘Yes, of course.’
It all went smoothly; Mum and Dad genuinely surprised when they walked inside.
‘Let me get you both a drink,’ Jaymie said, after guiding them to the photo wall.
Guests mingled and vied for her parents’ attention. There was a dull cacophony of voices over lunch as old friends caught up. Even Jaymie forgave Maggie for her bridezilla-like behaviour. And the gathering continued in the same way, until shortly after dessert was served. A sudden hush fell over the room. Heads turned to the door.
It was the maid of honour, fresh off a flight from Brazil.
‘Hi everyone,’ she said, breezing in as if she were the guest of honour. ‘I made it!’
Jaymie watched as Mum strode over, all gushing smiles. She hugged Margaret—Maggie’s namesake—and planted a kiss on her cheek. Interestingly, Dad hung back, uncertain how to approach.
And Jaymie stared aghast as the party descended into a type of raging madness, in seconds. Yet at the same time, it played out in slow motion.
Margaret walked to Jaymie’s Dad, kissed him passionately. Mum yelped, like a dog that had been run over.
‘God I’ve missed you, Frank,’ said Margaret.
Mum picked up a plate with half a pavlova on it and threw it at Margaret. ‘I knew it!’ she screeched. ‘Frank, how could you?’
Dad shrugged. Maggie was suddenly at Jaymie’s side. ‘What the fuck?’ she said, linking her arm through Jaymie’s.
Margaret wiped cream from her face and placed her fingers suggestively in Dad’s mouth, then casually picked up a cheesecake and threw it at Mum.
Before Jaymie and Maggie knew what was going on, before the wait staff could intervene, Margaret and Mum threw what was left of the dessert table at each other. Guests quickly slunk away until it was just the five of them standing in the mess.
‘Well, that went well,’ said Jaymie.