A STORY by VICTORIA LYNN SMITH

GOSSIP AND DINNER


“Ziva is such a cat,” Bella said, tilting her head in Chloe’s direction. Bella had a beautiful tilt, which helped her get her way. Even when people didn’t know what she wanted, they tripped all over themselves trying to please her.

Chloe tilted her head, though not as charmingly as Bella, and said, “True words. True words. She’s incessantly fussing over herself.”

“I’ve never seen someone so delighted by her looks,” Daisy added, pushing a lock of hair from her eyes, revealing dirt under her nails.

“Ziva’s not the type of female I’d ever date,” Dash said. “She’s high maintenance, all that time at the salon.”

“You’re so clever to see beyond her glamourous facade,” Daisy said, fluttering her lashes and flashing her best come-hither grin.

Daisy sat across the room from Dash, giving him a front-row seat to her disheveled, honey-colored tresses. Only Hawkeye, who sat next to him, heard his under-the-breath comment, “Daisy, on the other hand, goes out of her way to prove she’s no maintenance.”

Bella scratched her head and groaned. “Have you seen the ostentatious necklace she’s been wearing? She struts around like she has real diamonds wrapped around her neck.”

“True words, true words,” Chloe said. “At best the stones are second-rate crystals.”

“She isn’t the first female who wiggles her hips to get what she wants, then one day wakes up to find her looks won’t buy her second-hand glad rags from Goodwill,” Hawkeye said, sniffling. His nose was always running.

Chloe, Bella, and Daisy glanced at each other.

“True words, true words.” Chloe yawned, appearing bored.

“Hawkeye knows what he’s talking about,” Bella said, tilting her head toward Daisy and Chloe, then looking at Hawkeye. “Ziva wrapped Hawkeye up something awful, then cut him loose.”

“Lesson learned, hey,” Dash said, jabbing Hawkeye in the ribs.

“I’m getting hungry,” Hawkeye said. His stomach rumbled, affirming his statement. “Bella, didn’t you say you’re serving dinner? And how about drinks? I’m used to getting my meals on time.”

“We’re waiting for Ziva,” Bella answered. “It would be rude to eat without her.”

“She’s always late,” Daisy said, tapping her foot on the floor. “Maybe if we start our meals without her, she’ll get the message.”

“I know, I know,” Bella said, crossing her legs while tilting her head. “My help worked all morning on fine eats, and Ziva will turn her nose up at them. She’s so finicky.”

“True words, true words,” Chloe said. “Remember last week when my help did the cooking? Ziva said the meal wasn’t fit for a cat. Next time my help cooks, I’m not inviting her.”

“Ha!” Dash chortled, “you won’t risk Ziva disinviting you to her shindigs. You’re all intimidated by her.”

The sounds of dinner being finished and dished up came from the kitchen. Bella, Chloe, and Daisy—done gossiping about Ziva—discussed Bella’s new neighbor. Hawkeye, still licking his wounds, told Dash he’d never been serious about Ziva.

“So, you don’t mind if I toss my hat in the ring?” Dash asked. “I think she fancies me.”

Hawkeye barked, “If she couldn’t stick with a stud like me, what makes you think she’s going to be interested in a mongrel like you?”

None of them noticed the rap at the door, but hearing Bella’s help say, “Hello, Miss Ziva, come in,” they stopped their conversation and turned their heads.

Ziva stood in the doorway, sleekly coiffed, wrapped in black fur, the ostentatious necklace encircling her neck. She sashayed into the room and sat in the best chair near Dash. Hawkeye noticed drool at the corner of Dash’s mouth. Ziva, feigned interest in the female gossip. She didn’t look at either male, but both of them spoke to her at the same time.

Dash began, “Ziva, you’re looking—”

“Beautiful,” Hawkeye finished. “Why don’t you come sit next—”

“Glad you sat by me,” Dash said, “I want to ask you—”

“Would you like to go to the park with—”

“Shut up! She sat by me,” Dash snapped.

“You’ve such a charming home, Bella,” Ziva said.

“I’m so happy you came for dinner,” Bella said.

“Horribly sorry I’m late. I got tangled up with a friend while I was out walking,” Ziva said.

“We were happy to wait for you,” Bella said.

The kitchen door swung open. “Come and get it,” a short woman said.

The six companions emptied the living room, filing into the kitchen. Ziva, the last one to arrive, was the first one through the door.

“Outside, you all go,” a tall man said, holding the backdoor open.

The six poodles trotted out the door toward a line of six ceramic dishes on the patio.

“Anyone want more wine while we wait, again, for James to arrive?” the tall man asked his dinner guests.

 

Victoria Lynn Smith lives near Lake Superior, where she recently started paddle boarding. She was inspired to write this story after her daughter-in-law uttered the phrase, “Ziva is Such a Cat.” Perhaps some inspirations shouldn’t be pursued. Smith’s less inspirational work has appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio, Twin Cities Public Television’s Moving Lives Website, Brevity Blog, and Better Than Starbucks. For more, visit writingnearthelake.org.