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Winona Woolgathers

May 31st, 2010 by the_lifer

Winona’s first day at work is full of lacunas. Meetings are delayed. Her laptop isn’t ready. So she has plenty of time to think about how the impromptu party went on Saturday night.

Now that everyone is older, last-minute parties don’t work so well. Wayne and Henny couldn’t get a sitter. Neither could Helena and Henry. Wazzer was working. A Facebook invitation garnered a wall’s worth of friendly comments, but few clicked the “Attending” button.

The folks who did show up didn’t gel.  Will’s young IT workmates came, with other junior males in tow, pulling on beers and waiting for someone else to make them sparkle. Woodrow, the American contracting at Weta, showed up at ten with a big smile and a tropical shirt defying the moody weather. But he brought the cad supreme Wayland, under the misapprehension that this was a “fun guy you should meet.” At their arrival, Willow turned white, and left ten minutes later. The only food anyone brought was bags of crisps.

By midnight, the party was split into three groups: smokers huddling outside, buzzed guys talking about sports, and a few women in the kitchen, where it was the Winona and Ulrika show. Winona was slightly appalled to find how much she and Ulrika had in common. Nearly identical taste in clothing; fans of Polyphonic Spree and, of all places, Demel’s cafe in Vienna. Neither of them was the type to wait for someone else to start talking, they both plunged right in, Winona’s voice clipped and chiming, Ulrika’s drawing listeners with her unusual accent.

She remembers when Will peeked into the kitchen. And she clocked how Ulrika’s pout became a smile, how she leaned forward, uncrossed her legs, swayed a little towards him. Wryly, she acknowledged both Ulrika’s good taste, and the fact that this was rather too much affinity for them to be friends.

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