Leading the blind

Jennifer Pallister, hostess of famous parties, wandered into my studio. She pointed to a half-finished chandelier and said, ‘I want one. But bigger.’ We started talking.

Two months later an invitation arrived. At her door Mrs Pallister, thanked me for coming, then blindfolded me. She led me to a room already buzzing with conversation and sat me down. A voice said, ‘has someone new arrived?’

‘I’m new.’

A hand patted across and found my arm. ‘Jennifer’s outdone herself. Gary Parkinson.’

‘Louisa Lambert,’ I muttered. ‘Do we have to stay blindfolded?’

‘Not at all. Allow me.’ His hands crept up my arm to my neck, found the back of my head and undid the blind. Pitch black, as solid as obsidian. Trapping me.

Food somehow arrived. We felt around for it. Gary offered me something like caviar. I offered pastries filled with——paté perhaps. All round the room similar conversations broke out. Unknown couples fed each other in the dark. Food kept coming. New textures. New smells. Darkness overcame inhibition.

Until a clock chimed midnight and the room filled with blinding light from the new chandelier. In the minute my eyes adjusted Gary Parkinson emerged like a Polaroid before me. ‘Try this,’ he said. One more taste. Eyes of sea green. I opened my mouth. He slid the oyster in.