With his son firmly entranced by the magician-clown he walks over to the grown-ups’ table and pours himself a small glass of white wine. He’s ambivalent about kids’ birthday parties; his son loves it but he never quite manages to be comfortable with the other parents. And then he sees her.
She is standing under a nearby tree in conversation with another mom. They had met at a previous party (she has a daughter?) but he could not remember her name, only her dark, curly hair and her smile lines.
He hangs around the snacks table for a while, sipping absentmindedly at his wine, and then notices that she has moved deeper into the shade and is sitting on a wooden folding chair. He looks around for a matching chair and carries it over to where she is seated.
“Hi. Can I borrow some of your shade?” he asks.
“You’re Josh’s dad,” she smiles.
“Yes, that’s right; William.” he doesn’t immediately admit that he knows neither her name nor whether her child is a boy or a girl.
“That’s right; William.” she continues “And no, you can’t borrow any of my shade, but you’re welcome to take some of it.”
He puts the chair next to hers and sits down.
“So, fun huh?” he starts.
“Yup.” she says, then teases him “You’re William and your son is Joshua but I strongly suspect that you don’t remember that my name is Angela.”
He feigns injury “Of course I remember you Angela! You and your…”
“Daughter,” she helps.
“Sarah,” she prods him along with a smile.
“Angela and Sarah; absolutely” he nods.
They laugh and she reaches down to pick up a bottled lemonade from the grass next to her chair. As she bends down he can’t help but notice the small scar on her freckled shoulder.
“So how did you end up on birthday party duty today? Did you draw the short straw?” he asks.
“Single mom.” she replies and takes a sip from the fizzy lemonade.
“Single dad.” he confirms.
“Let’s commiserate.” she says, and they do.
As they chat a leaf drops onto her head and she leans over to shake it out of her bushy hair and then throws back her locks as if emerging from a mountain stream.
Her daughter, dressed in shorts, runs over to where they are seated holding two water balloons and Angela sends her running back into the jumble of kids after a few words of appreciation and encouragement.
“Want to go have a cigarette?” she asks.
“I don’t smoke but do you have a line of cocaine?”
She bursts out laughing and slaps him lightly on the forearm “Not today.” She continues laughing then says, “Dammit, I knew I forgot something.”
They disappear around the back of the house so as to avoid the potential for disapproving glances from other parents and Sarah produces a pouch from which she proceeds to roll a tiny tobacco cigarette. Once it is lit she takes a delicate puff from it, “I don’t really ever finish one of these, it’s more just so that I can have something in my hand.”
She looks at him, “So what do you do for distraction?”
“You mean like roll cigarettes and not finish them?”
“Yes, sure. Like roll cigarettes.”
He pauses for a moment and then leans in, “I fantasize about single moms in grocery store queues.”
She’s intrigued, “Oooo, does anything ever come of it?”
“Absolutely! I have a near perfect strike rate.”
“Bullshit,” she dares him, “Prove it.”
He stares into her eyes for a moment and then she grabs him by the hand and leads him into the house. Without a word she locks the door and proceeds to squeeze his crotch and then unbuckle his pants. She giggles at him, pushes him back against the basin and then takes his penis into her warm mouth.
When he has come in her mouth she takes his phone from the back pocket of his pants and punches in her number.
“You owe me.” she says with a smile and then leaves him, cheeks flushed, to recover in front of the mirror.