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Shannon Fay has just returned home to Nova Scotia after attending the Clarion West writer's workshop. She plans to spend the rest of the summer sleeping. She lives online at ayearonsaturn.com.

Though there was a bowl of hammer pills in the living room ("Hammer pills! For a quicker than liquor buzz!") Cora elbowed her way through the crowd and went into the kitchen to pour herself a glass of wine. Getting drunk the old-fashioned way always calmed her down. It gave her that warm fuzzy feeling of being a child again and stealing fingers from her dad's bourbon bottle.
The party seemed to be a success. People were laughing, talking, dancing. Some of the more attractive/confident guests were playing spin the bottle in the corner (What were they, twelve? Not that Cora was any expert on what people did at parties). Her mom would be so proud of her, playing hostess, drinking socially rather than alone on the couch. "Oh Cora," her mother had sighed after catching teenaged Cora sneaking into the liquor cabinet once again. "Drinking alone is just too sad. Drink with friends and no one will say boo."
The problem was Cora didn't have any friends.
A girl bumped into Cora's elbow. The wine in Cora's hand came up and arced over the glass and onto her polka-dot dress.
"Oh my god, I'm so sorry!" the girl said. She smiled sheepishly. "Uh, great, party."
Cora said nothing, just breathed in and out deeply. She squeezed her way through the crowded hallway to reach her bedroom. Even through the shut door she could still hear the music from the living room ("Today's Biggest Indie Hits!"). She didn't know the band or the song. The music pod had come with the Readymade party pack along with the vacuum-sealed fruit and veggie trays. The box had assured her that it came with everything one needed to host a wild party.
She loved Readymade. They just cut all the bullshit out of life. You didn't need to take the time to get to know trends or people or even what you liked. Readymade had it all ready for you.
She changed into a different dress and ventured back out into the party. An especially frantic song pulsated out of the music pod. Was it louder than before? Its beats hit Cora again and again in the cortex. She came into the living room just as one of the dancing party guests tripped on his own feet and fell onto her coffee table. A corner leg buckled and both guest and table hit the ground.
"Hey! My table!" Cora yelled.
"Sorry," the guy muttered blearily as a girl helped him up.
Her apartment wasn't usually this warm. Or this loud. Or this bad smelling. She sniffed and, following her nose, discovered that someone had thrown-up in the pot of her bamboo plant.
Cora took a deep breath. She needed another drink.
The kitchen was packed with people talking and laughing with furtive giggles. Cora saw that her cupboards were open and everyone had glasses in hand. She then saw the empty wine bottle on the counter.
"You drank my wine?" she said, disbelief blanching her words of color.
Most of the guests looked at the floor or the ceiling, but one of them, the clumsy girl from before, shrugged.
"So? If you're going to have a party, that's the risk you take."
Cora's hands clenched and shook. This wasn't worth it anymore.
"No, no, no. Everyone out!" They all stared at her. She realized she had said the wrong words. She thought back to the Readymade instructions. "I mean, PARTY'S OVER!"
The music cut out. Her guests stared at her. They kept staring at her as they deflated, skin shriveling as the little motors inside them wired and sucked their extremities inward. Thirty seconds later Cora's kitchen floor was covered with half-a-dozen fleshy cubes and puddles of spilled wine.
It was a similar sight in her living room. Cora was careful to step around the cubed party goers. She'd pack them up in the morning and put them back in the Readymade party pack. For now she was too tired to clean up. She sat on the couch and popped a hammered pill while enjoying the silence.
'Sorry Mom,' she thought. ''Social drinking is just too much of a hassle.'
The End
This story was first published on Monday, August 4th, 2014

Author Comments

I often feel like both an introvert and an extrovert. I love hosting parties, but there always comes a point where I wish I could just turn it all off, send everyone home, and go to sleep.

- Shannon Fay
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