The bride-to-be takes the stage with her penis veil, and I dance until my feet bleed and my shoes are stained with vodka from spilled martinis.
The DJ shouts “last call,” and the lights in the club flicker. But instead of following my friends out after-hours, I go back to the hotel. I don’t want the sun to reveal the truth: That I’m a big faker -- hiding behind my little black dress and red suede ankle boots, howling and hollering with my hands in the air, my wedding ring back at the hotel.
I used to be able to party all night long, wake up at noon, and then do it again. So what happened? Parenthood? Old age? Am I twenty-five going on forty?
“I’ll know it’s time to go home when I start showing strangers photos of my kids,” my friend’s sister explained over breakfast yesterday morning, and now I think I know what she meant.
I think of what has changed since the last time I was here, at this exact same hotel. The birth of my son. The beginning of a new life. And in the reflection of the elevator’s mirrored glass, I hardly recognize myself.
I slide open the door to my room and confront an explosion of clothes and makeup and camera cases. I remove my shoes and wipe the blush off my face. I’m glad I’m here. I miss my old friends and stealing drinks from rich shmucks desperate for attention. I miss short skirts and sweat-stained bras from dancing. But I am not really that person anymore. I have a new skin... stretch-marked and scratched, thanks to Archer’s unclipped nails. The problem is, I haven’t really figured out how to have fun in my new world. I am desperate for a social life that doesn’t require flying out of state for a weekend.
Dance clubs I can get into. Mom’s clubs? I don’t even know where to stand in line.
I make my way downstairs in my pajamas and leopard-print coat. I take the last of my weekend cash and hit the poker table, gambling my last twenty bucks on a hand one suit short of a royal flush. Ace of hearts. King of hearts. Queen of hearts. Jack of hearts. Ten of diamonds.
I’m only a card away from having it all.
I return to my room and fall asleep just as the morning sun scrapes the horizon.
Life, if you’re lucky, is only one suit short of a million-dollar hand.
From the book Rockabye by Rebecca Woolf. Reprinted by arrangement with Seal Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2008.