The Evite Made it Sound Like a Normal Party

“Hospitality,” a short story by Shane Kowalski

The Evite Made it Sound Like a Normal Party


I was the one in charge of the needs of the guests. There were four of them now and one of them was missing a foot.

Where’d your foot go? I said.

The guest shrugged, then said: How am I supposed to know that? I’m just the guest.

I’m very hungry, another guest said. It was the guest with the large belly reading a baby-names book. I’m eating for two, she said. I need to eat, like, an hour ago.

Sorry, I said. I can probably whip up some sandwiches in a sec.

She huffed. We can’t all be geniuses, I suppose, she said. Then she said out loud to everybody: Nobody will mind if I play some Mozart? I’m going to play some Mozart. I’m going to play it for the baby because that is a good thing for the baby.

Music that sounded like little naked nymphs gliding through the grass played. For a moment I wished I were the baby before I began feeling sorry for the baby. It still had so much to do yet in life: practically everything… yes, a lot of work ahead for that baby. I felt tired just thinking of all the baby had to accomplish still, so I watched its Mozart-playing mother lumber around the room, semi-gracefully.

Aren’t I a great dancer still? she said.

Then she said: I don’t mean to be harsh, but you’re kind of the worst host.

The other guests agreed by nodding their heads. The one guest said, I lost my foot under your hospitality! Only he said ‘hospitality’ as if whatever I had offered him was the opposite of ‘hospitality.’

I felt overworked, drained, bad at everything. A failure, and painfully conscious of it like the spot where I bit my tongue earlier. I felt all these things. Here were these guests and they were not appreciating my efforts! I could not make them happy.

I was trying.

I was.

I was considering making brownies. Everyone loves brownies!

Then: almost at the precipice of it all, before falling over the edge into despair, two more guests showed up, separately, and upon seeing the other said they were sexually attracted to one another. It was love at first sight, they said.

Odd as it sounds: they emanated with it. It was as if they were their own brownies.

It was strange to hear the guests declare their love like that, and lovely too. A change occurred in the air of the room. I felt little elevators full of drunk and happy people run up and down my body. It made me feel good I could provide a space for these two people to find each other in. The Mozart played on. The pregnant guest began dancing with the footless guest. I was feeling like I had done a good job… a decent job. A job. Having guests means letting them fall in love from time to time. I was immensely happy. The pregnant guest, turning her head at me, kept saying I looked like an idiot, but I beamed from ear to ear and would not stop. I made some brownies happily and everyone seemed grateful for the company.

Later, I saw everyone to their rooms, where they cozied themselves and rested. I lingered and listened outside the room of the two in-love guests doing in-love things. I tried to imagine what it would be like to be in that room. In the morning I knew I would wake up feeling like I had been dreaming of love.

About the Author

Shane Kowalski was born outside of Philadelphia. He is currently a lecturer at Cornell University. Work of his appears or is forthcoming in Puerto del Sol, The Offing, Funhouse, Hobart, and elsewhere. He is also the author of the short prose chapbook, Dog Understander (Frontier Slumber Press).

“Hospitality” is published here by permission of the author, Shane Kowalski. Copyright © Shane Kowalski 2018. All rights reserved.

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