The limousine pulled up in front of the huge house, next to several others that were already there unloading their passengers and their luggage. She didn't understand why there were so many - why couldn't some of us have shared? she thought.
Karen didn't know why she accepted the invitation to come. She hadn't seen her host since high school, and that was more than 20 years. Oh, they had reconnected over the Internet, but that's not the same as being "real" friends, is it? But something about his invitation seemed hard to avoid. There was a deep sadness and loneliness that just seemed to ooze out of the envelope when she opened it. Her heart broke when she read the hand-written letter inside. She had to come.
Apparently, so did many people. The house was large, but not a mansion by any means, and the flood of people in the entry way made it seem tiny. Karen recognized a couple of faces as relatives of her host, a few others may have been fellow classmates that she had long since forgotten, but the stream of bodies into the house made it impossible to talk.
As they entered the house, the crowd broke up. Servants provided refreshment in the dining area and there was ample seating in the living room. As the crowd settled , their host finally appeared. The upstairs had a loft that looked down upon the living room, and he stood by the railing looking down upon his guests. As Karen made eye contact with him, she again felt the sadness in him that drew her here.
As everyone noticed his presence, the small talk quieted, as if expecting him to make a speech. Maybe it wasn't his intention to do so, but now he was obligated.
"Thank you. For coming." he started. "Please, make yourselves at home. The caterers will take care of anything you need. The bathrooms are all over the place. I think there's 15 of them, but I've never counted."
A chuckle rippled through the crowd. He seemed to relax a little.
"For those of you who are guests of my guests, my name is Alex. Yes, you've probably seen me on TV or on a magazine or something like that. My reasoning for inviting you here will become clear in the next few days. In the mean time, relax, make yourselves at home. The TV room is in the back, the video games work for anyone who's bored. The theater is open too, feel free to use the pay-per-view."
Karen looked around at her fellow guests. With a few exceptions, almost everyone was around her age. No one seemed too anxious to try out his expensive toys.
"I'm afraid the sleeping accommodations are limited. I never bothered to furnish most of the bedrooms. For those of you that wish, you are free to call a cab and get a hotel room, but you are free to use any areas of the house you wish. I have acquired what I hope is enough pillows, blankets, and inflatable mattresses to go around. Make yourselves comfortable. I'll talk to you soon."
With that, he walked away from the railing and disappeared into the back of the house. Chatter resumed all around Karen as the guests spread out. Many of them toward the food, others to the ends of the house.
Karen took her luggage and found a room that someone had tacked a handwritten sign to the door stating "Ladies Dressing Room". Across the hall they had designated the "Men's Dressing room". Inside there was no furniture, but many people were storing their belongings, claiming space in the corners and along the walls. She claimed her own space, changing from her traveling clothes into something more presentable, and rejoined the crowd.
Afternoon passed into evening, then the house came ablaze in decorator lighting as darkness fell. The crowd drifted into groups, then smaller groups as conversation passed from small talk to deeper matters. Karen found the classmates she had seen when she entered and they passed the time reliving high school.
As night began to drift toward morning, many people found they were comfortable right where they were and fell asleep on the chairs, the sofas, and the thick carpeting. Some took advantage of the showers, as did Karen. She realized, to her embarrassment, that she had forgotten clean clothes from her luggage.
As she peeked her head out of the bathroom, the house was silent. It seemed she might be the last one awake. Wrapped in a large heavy towel, she tip-toed out into the hallway, passing stealthily past several rooms full of people. As she turned the corner to reach the dressing room where her luggage was, she ran into Alex.
Literally. The collision was sudden and violent.....
The dream is starting to fade, maybe if I think on it a bit I can remember some more....