Mrs. Hinj, widow of the recently deceased Dantho Hinj, had decided to hold a party in her late husband’s honor. All the town was invited. In the decline on the world, with the sun setting not only on the horizon, but on the world, on life as it had once been known, on the little things – imagine one or two, some part of the structure of society that as it might erode may reveal an essential part of one’s personality that had been dependent on that system whirling away placidly – Mrs. Hinj had forgone any formal preparations in the way of invitations or notices. She had simply made it known that the evening was ‘on’.
Come that night, as the stars flared like stuck matches and transfixed the darkening sky, the guests rallied and made their way through the winding streets towards the Hinj estate. The grounds opened in the front onto Canthus Street where the gates were flanked by a pair of gigantic banana trees, their violet leaves broad and fruitless and in the back onto the sinuous curves of Undone Alley.
Mrs Hinj was a robust woman, fond of her own figure and possessed of a formidable coiffure. Her husband had been a serial manque and enthusiastic though sub-par raconteur and when he had vanished making his way up to the incursion site – not called such in conversation, but instead colloquially referred to as The Introduction – she’d not been in the least surprised.
‘He was a good man.’
‘I admired him immensely.’
‘A role model.’
Mrs Hinj tired very quickly of the complements everyone seemed to carry to her like bales of hay, awkward and dry. The party felt good though, she’d already had three (was it four?) glasses of golden wine, and she opened her smile at everyone who greeted her regardless.
It wasn’t that she hadn’t loved Dantho, only that when he did not return she had realized, with the easy grace of age and the perspective of one who lived beneath a sun that would some short months on (perhaps?) set for the very last time, she had loved him all that she might. His exit had been immaculate.
The guests snagged on each other warmly, catching each other in pleasantries, exchanging winks and sly smiles. A knowing twist of the lips parenthesized deep sips at wine glasses. There was an air of open conspiracy; everyone breathed the same air.
‘Mrs Hinj you must tell us of your husband’s venture’, this from a small woman who wore long feathers tucked into the tortured curls of her hair that arched behind her like quills. She met Mrs Hinj’s gaze directly and made a tight, tart heart of her mouth, the bow sharply defined, before letting the shape of it slide into a broad smile when she realized she had teased out the hostess’ interest.
Mrs Hinj found the wine flooding her smile. The guests clotted around her. ‘Well, since you ask. . .’, she began theatrically.