A hush descended over the room as Carrie entered from the kitchen. A svelte, buxom woman in her late 30s, Carrie had played the part of hostess well, ensuring all of her guests had plenty of drinks and canapés and were enjoying themselves thoroughly. She placed her glass of wine daintily on the sideboard and tossed her glossy blonde hair over one shoulder, smiling broadly. In her other hand was a glass basket. Melissa waited, holding her breath, along with her husband and the rest of the group.
Melissa and Carrie had known each other since their first year in high school. Somehow, against all odds, they’d become friends when Carrie had adopted shy and quiet Melissa, folding her into her flock of followers. Carrie always been the leader of their group, the most outgoing, outlandish, the most fun. She had a personality you couldn’t help but like and everyone wanted her as their friend, wanted her at their high school bashes and (later on) their dinner parties. She made the room come alive with her tall tales and her laugh. You couldn’t help but look at her when she walked in the room. Her piercing blue eyes commanded attention, and attention was what she was used to.
Through the years, the members of Carrie’s group had waxed and waned and she and Melissa grew closer. They’d been bridesmaids in each other’s weddings, thrown birthday parties for each other’s 30th birthdays, they’d even moved into the same neighborhood with their husbands and, in Melissa’s case, children in tow. Luckily Melissa’s kids were off at her parents for the weekend, leaving her and her husband free for Carrie’s special dinner. Carrie had promised Melissa it would be a night to remember for a long time to come–a party to eclipse all others.
Together Melissa and Carrie had indulged in Carrie’s whims and in her fleeting pastimes–squash, running, baking and antiquing, to name a few. As a matter of fact, that’s where Carrie had found the glass basket she was now clutching, exclaiming with joy at it’s grandma-like kitsch. Her sneaky sideways glance at Melissa had not gone unnoticed, and neither had her off-handed comment about knowing just what she could use the basket for.
Carrie set the basket down on the table next to her wine glass–the glass basket, once empty, was now full of keys of all shapes and sizes. The translucent coral glass reflected the gentle light in the room, sending slivers of light across the walls and a shiver down Melissa’s spine. It was so full, Melissa could hear a tinkle from the keys inside as Carrie put it down on the table with a small thump.
“Now,” Carrie smiled, with a cheshire grin. “Guys? I believe your ladies have all put their copy of their house key in the basket. It’s your turn to each draw out a key. And,” she put a finger up and waggled it in mock admonishment and the group giggled nervously, “no pulling out your own key. No cheating.”