Skip to main content



The Block Party

Chapter 1

Alexandra Fox meant to have only a couple of drinks at the block party. Three, tops.

Oh well. Woman plans, God laughs.

But God didn’t have to put this party together. She did. The neighborhood slogan might as well have been: Go ask Alex, I think she’ll know. Basically a lyric from a sixties drug song. Hence the drink in her hand. If Alice from Wonderland needed pills to function properly—well, Alex from Meadowbrook, Massachusetts, could imbibe some wine.

“What happened to the blue tablecloths?” one neighbor asked.

Alex startled at the sound of her voice.

“Those were so pretty.”

Alex eyed the red tablecloths as if she couldn’t believe their horrible aesthetic. “Hundred percent agree,” she said with just the right touch of disgust. If she’d been able to find the blue ones in her basement, she’d have used those instead. But there was a good chance she’d thrown them out by mistake months ago.

“Such a good call,” Alex continued. “I’ll remember them next year.” She almost made an air kiss to seal the deal, but she wasn’t that drunk yet.

Instead of pointing out what’s not working for you, she thought, perhaps you could have helped me send out the eighteen invites … or put out the food or set up the badminton court. But no—shame on the red tablecloths.

“Oh, you must try Emily’s potato salad,” Alex said in hopes of sending this person away. “Utterly to die for.”

She directed the neighbor’s attention to the folding tables piled high with dessert trays and bowls of chips, which offered crumbs that daring birds would occasionally swoop down to snatch. Platters of meat sizzled in the sun.

Off went the neighbor, and finally Alex had a free moment to herself, nobody asking for anything, which meant she could drink from her red Solo cup in peace.

Tomorrow she’d restart her sobriety. Worse things had happened. It wouldn’t be a big problem as long as she could avoid her husband, Nick—at least until she sobered up.

Sounds of children at play filled the air, while their respective parents chatted in clusters or lounged on beach chairs dotting the island of the cul-de-sac. Alex resisted the urge to scoff.

If you all knew what I know, she thought, almost grinning at the idea, you’d be running from this party as fast as you could, not playing cornhole, that’s for sure.

She felt a gentle tug on the back of her shirt. Turning, she set her blurry vision on a young girl who lived four doors down on Alton Road. She knew the face, but for the life of her couldn’t remember this child’s name.

“Are the hot dogs ready yet?” asked the little girl—or was it girls? Was she seeing double?


Alex pointed at the distant row of grills manned by a line of sweaty dads. “How am I supposed to know if the hot dogs are done, sweetheart?” she said. “I’m not working the grill, am I?”

The little girl’s eyes went wide. Alex feared the child might burst into tears. She hadn’t meant to be unkind, just factual. The approach worked well with her divorce mediation clients, but was obviously less effective with a kid at a neighborhood barbecue.

“Come with me,” she said, her voice cheerier.

Molly. This girl’s name is Molly Sanders. There. Not drunk.

She took the girl’s hand. The child’s flimsy grip made it easier to stay upright. “We’ll go check on the hot dogs together.”

A blaze of sunshine coaxed beads of sweat onto Alex’s skin. Water. I need water.

The hot dogs on the grill were in fact done. Alex was not. She reached into the kiddie pool and fished about the icy depths, eventually retrieving a pony-size plastic bottle of white wine. She filled her red cup almost to the brim. She also got herself a bottle of water, as if that might even things out.

Alex kept an eye out for Nick. They hadn’t spoken much since their big fight two days ago. As luck would have it, she’d picked the grill farthest from the rattan tiki bar. Behind that bar, Nick Fox mixed the more elaborate cocktails, none of which he’d have permitted Alex to drink. Good thing she’d stocked the bar for him that morning. He had promised to do it but didn’t, leaving her to do the job. She felt more than deserving of the drink she’d helped herself to in the process. Didn’t matter that it was before noon. The freestanding structure, one Nick had bought at a flea market some years back, leaned to one side as if it were about to topple over.

Alex could relate.

This would be her last glass until the evening, she promised herself. Water and coffee from now until then. She was still fully functional. She could carry on a conversation. Nobody was looking at her funny, were they?

The street was quite active now and would stay that way late into the evening. If Alex paced herself—steering clear of Nick, of course—she could party with her neighbors to her heart’s content.

Copyright © 2023 by J.D. Publications LLC

The Block Party
by by Jamie Day