Upon entering my dining room, it sashayed to a slow autumn waltz. Floorboards moved like keys on a piano, chandelier lights blinked, and wall paintings pooled into thick gray. Only the table was still. When I opened the chest, napkins fluttered by like butterflies, landing in the spaces between floorboards. Table mats climbed the Victorian wallpaper, and silverware slipped from my grasp. I set the table with mixed success.

The Doorbell rang. Guests, blank eyes and carved smiles on inflated heads, entered. Although I initially thought I recognized them, their images soon blurred. I offered hor d’oevres, but the mushroom canapes catapulted into several ears, affecting hearing. Cucumbers, decorated with cream cheese and cut olives, glommed onto the eyes of other people who flailed around the room wrestling with new found blindness. Thinking other food would help, I herded my guests into the dining room where the cucumber people tripped on the rising floorboards and the mushroom people talked in loud overtones.

When I asked them to be seated, they played musical chairs almost as if no one could see or hear each other. As they continued to change places, I served dinner, never feeding anyone completely, never sitting at my own table. Why do I invite people to dinner when I never get to talk to them? Why do people get together at all?

Abruptly I left the table, pausing for a last look at the scene, an abstract painting gone awry. Rushing out my front door, I disappeared into a grove of poplar trees that whispered night air.

© Susan Mersereau, 1995

Susan Mersereau is the Vice-President for Quality Aviation and Region Services at Weyerhaeuser. She lives in Seattle with her family and loves outdoor sports including backpacking with her llama, Hector.