There’s a story here somewhere – I must be the one to discover it!
Before me is a table set for six. Five plates still contain half-eaten food. Four chairs are pushed back from the table at odd angles, as if their occupants suddenly needed to flee. One chair is turned over. The sixth chair, at the foot of the table, has not been disturbed and seems to be waiting. The sixth plate is clean and empty.
I slowly walk around the table inspecting the name cards. “Sarah” says the card at the head of the table. A shallow socialite? A nervous young bride giving her first dinner party? A stern matriarch? To Sarah’s right are “Tamsin” and “Kate”, to her left are “Ruth” and “Cindy”. Bridesmaids? Sarah’s four grand-daughters, angling for their inheritance? Old friends meeting for the first reunion after a decades-long scattering? The sixth place has a blank name card. Sarah’s long-lost husband? A mysterious invitee wanting to make a dramatic surprise entrance? The ghost of the manor’s previous owner?
Just then I get a whiff of an incredible fragrance and turn my attention to the flowers. So much lavender! A hand-blown pale purple glass bowl, filled with dried petals. At five of the place settings, a bundle of three lavender sprigs, each tied with a creamy silk bow. In spite of all the disarray, the lavender at these five places is still perfectly placed. The sixth place, however, has seven sprigs of lavender all willy-nilly, in wild confusion. The sixth silk bow is nowhere to be found.
Something happened here. I must unearth the story.
I hear footsteps. A woman enters, and I gasp. She is astoundingly beautiful, with dark blue eyes and black waves of hair flowing halfway down her back. “Sarah?” I ask. As she moves toward the table, I pepper her with questions. She suddenly stops and glares at me with a smoldering anger. “You writers need to mind your own business,” she cries as she stomps out of my imagination, taking the table, the lavender, and the six place settings with her.