''Life of the Party' by Georgiana Nelsen

I’ve waited too long to get the things I need to make dinner. My refrigerator is full of trays: fancy cheese, chickpea hummus, garlic artichokes, prosciutto wrapped asparagus, and real goose liver rumaki. All things I don’t like. I’d have remembered milk at least, if there’d been room left in the fridge for it, but the urn with the CEO’s ashes takes up the space where milk belongs.

Before the party, I need to feed our three kids, bathe them and dress them in their party pyjamas. If they wander downstairs when the Nazis, er, colleagues, are here, they will look like the kids in The Sound of Music. I hope no one asks them to sing.

The lot at Kroger is full, so I park in a non-space and grab a cart before I get the children out of the car. It’s the only way I’ll get inside. I lift my version of Marta and Kurt into the basket and tuck little Gretl in the top seat. I pretend the cart is magic, so they will stay sitting. I should know better. Gretl wants lollipops. Marta begs for disgusting gummy bears on the end cap, while Kurt climbs out of the cart in front of the gun toting security guard.

“He’s too big to ride in the cart,” the guard says.

“Sorry, it’s so crowded…” Before I finish explaining, Kurt disappears down the aisle and Marta tries to repeat the maneuver. She’s too short, and catches her favorite leggings on the metal, resulting in a hole the size of a quarter. Her wails set off Gretl, and all the blue hairs turn to me and tisk.

“Too much sugar.” “Too little spanking.” “Children don’t belong …”

I hand Marta the bears and I push the cart to where I last saw Kurt, singing, “So long, farewell…”

Milk, processed cheese and pasta, all I need to make the only meal they will all three eat. I curse Captain Von Trapp because after all, these are his people. We survive the check out and the drive home. I leave them with their “pasta al fredo” while I shower, begging Kurt to keep an eye on the girls. I just can’t wait any longer. My mom clothes don’t fit the smart casual the Captain has requested.

It is quiet when I slip on my dress. The Captain must have arrived and tamed the zoo so I relax and take the time to brush my hair, add lipstick and head to their bathroom. No one is there.

I take the seventeen stairs two at a time, and slide when I step across the last one. The slick gray powder all over the floor catches me off guard, the refrigerated urn now spilling across the Captain’s beloved tumbled stone tile. I look at Kurt, who is feeding mac and cheese, covered with the gray, to Gretl.

“She wanted pepper,” he says, as the doorbell rings.

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