Tuesday
October 21, 2014

Homework Help: English - ms. sue

Posted by Mohammad on Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 8:46pm.

Ms. Sue, my sister write out story here it is.

On Monday she looked in her mailbox, although she had no reason to expect a letter so soon. But there it was, a small, square car. She held it in her two hands, testing its weight.

It was an invitation to an exhibition of drawings at a private gallery. The name of the artist was only faintly familiar to her, and she couldn’t decide if she’d ever seen his work or not. She tried to imagine what kind of drawings she was being invited to view—would they be primitive or abstract or what was sometimes called “magic realism"? She summoned these categories to mind and then decided it didn’t matter. What mattered was that she had been invited.

The invitation pleased her, though she wasn’t such a fool as to think she’d been specifically singled out
because of her aesthetic sensitivity or because of her knowledge of modern graphics or even because of the pleasure of her company. The address on the card had been typed; her name, in fact, was misspelled, the last two letters transposed. Somewhere, no doubt, she’d
turned up on a mailing list—that was all.

She would wear a certain printed velvet skirt she had and with it a black turtleneck sweater. No one
would expect her to buy a drawing or even to comment on the exhibition. It was necessary only to accept a
glass of wine and a cube of orange cheese and stand for a minute or two in front of each drawing, nodding comprehendingly and perhaps murmuring something properly neutral into the air such as “nicely detailed” or “wonderful sense of space.” There was a good chance no one would even speak to her, but it would be better than spending Saturday evening in her new apartment, sitting in an armchair with a book and feeling lonliness drink her drop by drop.

The previous tenant had left behind a single item, which was a paperback copy of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, a book that, oddly enough, she had always intended to read. She couldn’t help feeling there had been something to deliberate-and something imperative, too-about this abandoned book, as thogh it had been specifically intended for her and that she was being enjoined to take it seriously. But how much better it would be to be going out; how much easier it would be to say, should anyone ask, that on Saturday evening she would be attending an opening of an interesting new exhibition.

On Tuesday she was again taken by surprise, for in her mailbox there was another invitation, this time for a cocktail party given by a distant friend of a friend, someone she had never met but whose name she dimly remembered having heard. It was a disappointment that the party was being held on the same night as the gallery opening and that, furthermore, it was at the same hour. For a minute she entertained the possibility of attending both functions, galloping breathlessly from one to the other. But no, it was not feasible; the two parties were at opposite ends of the city. It was a great pity, she felt, since invitations are few and far between when one moves to a new address. She would have to make a choice.

Of course she would choose the cocktail party. The gallery opening, now that she stopped to think about it, was no more than a commercial venture, an enticement
to buyers and patrons. It would be fraudulent of her to attend when she’d no intention of buying a picture, and
besides, she was drawn to cocktail parties. She was attracted, in fact, to parties of all kinds, seeing them as
an opportunity to possess, for a few hours at least, a life that was denser, more concentrated and more vigorous
than the usual spun-out wastes of time that had to be scratched endlessly for substance. She could still wear her certain velvet skirt, but with a pretty red satin blouse she’d recently acquired.

On Wednesday, strangely, she received .a third invitation—and it, too, was for Saturday evening. This time the invitation was handwritten, a rather charming note which she read through quickly three times. She was being invited to a small buffet supper. There would be only a dozen or so guests, it was explained. The author of a new biography would be there, and so would the subject of the biography who was, by chance, also a biographer. A particular balding computer scientist would be in attendance along with his wife, who was celebrated for her anti-nuclear stance and for her involvement in Navajo rugs. There would be a professor of history and also a professor of histology, as well as a person renowned for his love of Black Forest cakes and cheese pastries. There would be a famous character actor whose face was familiar, if not his name, and also the hairdresser who’d invented the Gidget cut and raised razor cuts to their present haute status.

Of course she could not say no. How much more congenial to go to a supper party than to peer at violent works of art and mutter, “Interesting, interesting,” and how much more rewarding than standing about with a drink and a salty canape and trying to make conversation with a room full of strangers. Her green silk dress would be suitable, if not precisely perfect, and she could gamble safely enough on the fact that no one would have seen it before.

Thursday’s mail brought still another invitation, also unfortunately for Saturday evening. She smiled, remembered how her mother used to say, “It never rains but pours” The invitation, which was for a formal dinner party, was printed on fine paper, and there was a handwritten note at the bottom. “We do hope you can make it,” the note said. “Of course we know you by reputation and we’ve been looking forward to meeting you for years.”

It had been some time since she’d attended a formal dinner party, and she was flattered to be sent an invitation with a handwritten note at the bottom. It pleased her to imagine a large, vaulted dining room and a parade of courses elegantly served, each with a different wine. The gleam of light through cut glass would sparkle on polished linen and on the faces of the luminaries gathered around the table. Her green silk, with perhaps the double strand of pearls, would be festive enough, but at the same time subdued and formal.

She wasn’t entirely surprised to look into her mailbox on Friday and see that she’d been sent yet another invitation. The paper was a heavy, creamy stock and came enclosed in a thick double envelope. There was to be a reception—a gala it was called—at the top of a large downtown hotel on Saturday evening. The guest of honor, she read, was to be herself.

She felt a lurch of happiness. Such an honour! But a moment later her euphoria gave way to panic, and when she sat down to collect herself, she discovered she was trembling not with excitement but with fear. On Saturday she surveyed the five invitations which were arranged in a circle on her coffee table. These missives, so richly welcoming, persuading, and honoring had pleased her at first, then puzzled her. And now she felt for the first time directly threatened. Something or someone was conspiring to consume a portions of her life, of herself, in fact-entering her apartment and taking possession of her Saturday evening just as a thief might enter and carry off her stereo equipment or her lovely double rope of earls or a deep slice of her dorsal flesh. She decided to stay home instead with a cup of coffee and her adventitiously acquired copy of Mansfield Park. Already it was dark, and she switched on the small reading lamp by her chair. The shade of the lamp was made of a pale, ivory-yellow material, and the light that shone through it had the warm quality of very old gold.

It happened that some people passing her window on their way to various parties and public gatherings that night were moved to see her, a woman sitting calmly in an arc of lamplight, turning over-one by one-the soft pages of a thick book. Clearly she was lost in what she was reading, for she never once glanced up. Her look of solitary containment and the oblique angle with which the light struck the left side of her face made her seem piercingly lovely. One of her hands, curved like a comma, lay on her lap; the other, slowly, thoughtfully, turned over the pages.

Those who passed by and saw her were seized by a twist of pain, which was really a kind of nostalgia for their childhood and for a simplified time when they, too, had been bonded to the books they read and to certain golden rooms which they remembered as being complete and as perfect as stage settings. They felt resentment, too, at the cold rain and the buffeting wind and the price of taxis and the hostility of their hosts. They felt embarrassed by their own small, proffered utterances and by the expanded social rubric they had come to inhabit.

As they moved to and fro in large, brightly-lit rooms, so high up in glittering towers that they felt they were clinging to the sides of cliffs, their feet began to ache and exhaustion overcame them. Soon it was past midnight, no longer the same day, but the next and the next. New widths of time clamored to be filled, though something it seemed, some image of the possibility, begged to be remembered.
Outside, the wind blew and blew. The sky slipped sideways, turning first yellow, then a mournful, treasonous purple, as though time itself was drowning in a waterfall of shame.

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