“Look. Grass. Trees. Breathe in the aroma of freshly mown grass,” said Carrie, who had mysteriously begun to feel better. Everyone looked at her suspiciously.
The cab pulled up in front of a white Colonial-style house whose value had obviously been increased by the addition of a pointy slate roof and balconies off the second floor. The lawn was very green, and the trees that dotted the yard had borders of pink flowers around their bases.
“Oh, what a cute puppy,” Carrie said, as a golden retriever raced barking across the lawn. But as the dog reached the edge of the yard, it was suddenly jerked back, as if yanked by an invisible rope.
Miranda lit up a blue Dunhill. “Invisible electric fencing,” she said. “They all have it. And I bet you anything we’re going to have to hear about it.”
For a moment, the four women stood in the driveway, staring at the dog who was now sitting, subdued but valiantly wagging its tail, in the middle of the yard.
Inside the house, half a dozen women were already sitting in the living room, legs crossed, balancing cups of coffee and tea on their knees. A spread was laid out: cucumber sandwiches, quesadillas with salsa. Sitting off to one side, unopened, untouched, was a big bottle of white wine, its sides covered in a film of moisture. The bride-to-be, Lucy, looked somewhat terrified at the city women’s arrival.
There were introductions all around.
A woman named Brigid Chalmers, Hermès from head to toe, was sipping what looked like a Bloody Mary. “You guys are late. Jolie thought maybe you weren’t coming,” she said, with that particular breezy nastiness that only women can show to one another.
“Well, the train schedule…” Sarah shrugged apologetically.
“Excuse me, but do we know you?” Miranda whispered in Carrie’s ear. That meant as far as Miranda was concerned, it was war with Brigid from now on.
“Is that a Bloody Mary?” Carrie asked.
Brigid and one of the other women exchanged glances. “Actually, it’s a Virgin Mary,” she said. Her eyes flickered in Jolie’s direction for a second. “I did all that stuff for years. All that drinking and partying. And then, I don’t know, it just gets boring. You move on to more important things.”
“The only important thing to me right now is vodka,” Carrie said, putting her hands to her head. “I’ve got the worst hangover. If I don’t get some vodka…”
“Raleigh!” said one of the women on the couch, bending around to peer into one of the other rooms. “Raleigh! Go outside and play.”
Miranda leaned over to Carrie: “Is she talking to her dog or her kid?”
Miranda turned to Brigid. “So tell me, Brigid,” she said. “What exactly is it that you do?”
Brigid opened her mouth and neatly inserted a quesadilla triangle. “I work at home. I’ve got my own consulting firm.”
“I see,” Miranda said nodding. “And what do you consult on?”
“She’s our sort of neighborhood Bill Gates,” said another woman named Marguerite, drinking Evian from a wine goblet. “Whenever we have a computer problem, we call Brigid and she can fix it.”
“That’s so important when you’re using a computer,” Belle said. “And what about you, Marguerite? Do you have children?”
Marguerite blushed slightly and looked away. “One,” she said a little wistfully. “One beautiful little angel. Of course, he’s not so little anymore. He’s 8, he’s in that real boy stage. But we’re trying for another.”
“Margie’s on that in vitro trail,” Jolie said, and then, addressing the room, added, “I’m so glad I got my two over with early.”
Unfortunately, Carrie chose that moment to emerge from the kitchen sipping on a large glass of vodka with two ice cubes floating on the top. “Speaking of rug rats,” she said, “Belle’s husband wants her to get preggers, but she doesn’t want to. So she went to a drug store, bought one of those test kits that tell when you’re ovulating, and the woman behind the counter was like, ‘Good luck!’ And Belle was like, ‘No, no, you don’t understand. I’m going to use this so I know when not to have sex.’ Isn’t that hysterical?”
“I can’t possibly be pregnant during the summer,” Belle said. “I wouldn’t want to be seen in a bathing suit.”