“The Hen Night” by Icy Sedgwick
We’d like to present a new Feature Story here at Metro Fiction. Please check the Welcome page for more information about us. Our story this week causes us to consider truth, deception and trust in a marriage.
Please enjoy our Feature Story: “The Hen Night” by Icy Sedgwick:
“Poor love doesn’t know what she’s letting herself in for,” said Penny.
She looked down the length of the table at Yasmin. The bride-to-be tossed her hair and accepted another Cosmopolitan from the waitress. Women stared across the bar at the blonde wearing the plastic tiara and nylon ‘bride’ sash. The men stared at Yasmin’s skimpy leotard and implants.
“You still have your suspicions about Brian?” asked Viv, turning her attention back to her friend.
“I can’t think of any other explanation. He goes out at night, won’t let me go with him, sneaks out to the conservatory to take phones calls, started going to the gym – he’s even listening to that chart music now instead of Radio 4!” replied Penny. She fiddled with the plain gold band on her ring finger.
“Have you said anything to him?”
“Not yet. He’s been very affectionate towards me and things have improved in the bedroom, so I feel bad saying anything. Like I should be grateful he’s feeling guilty.” Penny grimaced.
“But you’re not happy.”
“No. I didn’t think Brian would cheat on me, but then I guess you never really know a person, do you? I suppose I’m just lucky we don’t have kids. Makes thinking about divorce easier.”
The waitress placed two fresh jugs of cocktails and a tray of glasses on the table. The rest of the women whooped as Yasmin motioned for them to enjoy the bounty. The waitress paused to congratulate Yasmin. The bride-to-be beamed, showing off the rock on her engagement ring.
“Eleven years ago, that was me,” said Penny.
“God, eleven years already?”
“Yeah. Though I didn’t have anything as naff as this.” Penny gestured to the cheap decorations and the ballerina costumes Yasmin forced them all to wear.
“Don’t know about you, but I feel like mutton trussed up as lamb in this get up,” said Viv. “When was the last time you saw a ballerina with crow’s feet and a grey streak?”
“Don’t look now, but it’s about to get a whole lot worse,” said Penny.
She pointed down the table. One of the waitresses deposited a tape deck near Yasmin. A dance remix of the main theme from Ridley Scott’s Gladiator blared out of the speakers. The lights in the bar dimmed, and a male figure strutted across to the hen party. A spotlight fell on him, and the women cooed over his leather straps and fake sword.
“You got me a stripper!” screeched Yasmin. She bounced up and down in her seat, clapping with delight.
“Well, that’s historically inaccurate for a start. Gladiators never wore helmets like that,” said Penny. She pointed to the plastic helmet. Its red plume wafted in the breeze from the air conditioning.
“Er, Penny, I don’t think it’s the helmet you should be looking at,” said Viv.
Penny’s gaze slipped down several inches. She took in the strong nose, the brown eyes, the dark eyebrows peppered with grey, the cleft chin –
“Brian!” screamed Penny.
Embarrassment flared on the stripper’s face as his wife recognised him. Brian made a “Not now” gesture with his hand, and launched into his routine. Penny refused to watch, fiddling with her mobile phone. Brian gyrated in front of a clapping Yasmin. Viv averted her eyes as Brian got down to his thong.
He pulled a rose out of the red plumage of his helmet with a flourish. He handed it to Yasmin as the song ended and the house lights came up. The hen party broke out in a round of applause, calling for more. Even the other customers in the bar joined in the applause.
The waitresses distracted the rest of the hen party with more cocktails as Brian slipped out of the bar. Penny glared after him.
“You know, even if I was a betting person, I would never have put money on him doing that,” said Viv. “But at least you know he’s not cheating on you.”
“Do I? How do I know he doesn’t hand out freebies to the brides-to-be at the end of the night?” snapped Penny.
“Oh come on, you can’t assume he’d do that just because he’s stripping,” said Viv.
“Viv, do you mind giving us a few moments?” asked Brian. He appeared beside them, now dressed in a leather jacket and jeans.
The other women ignored him, not recognising him without the helmet and leather. Viv nodded and wandered up to Yasmin’s end of the table. Brian slipped into the empty seat beside Penny.
“So this is what all the bodybuilding was for. You get your kicks parading your arse about in front of women half your age. God, what will my mother say?” said Penny.
“You’ve got it all wrong,” said Brian.
“Well, that’s how it looks!”
“Will you just let me explain?”
Penny opened her mouth to reply but closed it again. Her curiosity proved too strong.
“I know I can be a bit distant at times, and I’m not as loving as I should be. You’ve put up with a lot from me over the years, and I wanted to do something to show you I do appreciate you. But second honeymoons aren’t cheap, you know,” said Brian.
“Yes, you silly mare! Dave suggested I take up stripping to earn a few extra quid. I didn’t tell you because I wanted it to be a surprise.”
“Well, it was certainly a surprise,” said Penny.
“So how about it? How do the Seychelles sound?”
Penny gazed into Brian’s eyes. He smiled, and Penny remembered the first time he’d smiled at her like that. She felt the same gooey feeling then, too.
“The Seychelles sound perfect,” replied Penny.
“Excellent. I’ll get something booked then. I love you, Mrs. Dempsey.”
“Ditto, Mr. Dempsey.”
Icy Sedgwick was born in the North East of England, and is based in Newcastle. She has been writing for over ten years, and has had several stories included in published anthologies. She currently contributes regular articles to Write Anything and Fuel Your Writing, and spends her non-writing time working on a PhD in Film Studies. Icy is also currently promoting her first book, a pulp Western named “The Guns of Retribution”, published through Pulp Press and available on Amazon.
Tags: fiction, icy sedgwick, metro fiction, short story