Jessica stepped up to the door, took a deep breath, and rang the doorbell. The loud chime was a sharp contrast to the silence of the winter evening. A moment later the door opened and her friend and co-worker, Eric, greeted her.
“Hey, Jess! Glad you could come! The party’s already started, so go on in.”
“Thanks,” Jess said, stepping inside. She held up a small brown bag to him. “Here. I brought along a bottle of wine for the party. Hope it’s ok.”
Eric grinned and took the gift from her. “Thanks! We’ll definitely put this to good use later. The party’s in the living room. Go join everyone, and I’ll put this in the kitchen then join you all.”
The living room was decked out for Christmas. Jessica first noticed all the garland, ribbons, and decorations that were set around and smiled. Then she spotted the Christmas tree in the far corner and gasped. It was the loveliest tree she’d ever seen, and she thought it put the rest of the decorations in the room to shame.
Other friends from work – Olivia, Mitch, Darren, Michelle – and a handsome young man she didn’t recognize were seated around the coffee table and waved to her as she came into the room. Jessica grinned and joined them, taking a seat on the couch next to the young man she didn’t know.
“Hi, Jess,” the young man said. “Glad you could make it. You look really nice this evening, by the way.”
Jessica started slightly when she heard his voice and realized who it was. She had never seen Jimmy without his glasses, or with his hair cut neatly, or dressed up like he was. He had never struck her as the type to go to a party, either.
Eric came in then and turned on the karaoke machine. Jimmy instantly got up and, to Jessica’s surprise, started singing a Christmas song. Jessica stared at him the entire time in disbelief. This Jimmy was such a stark contrast to the one she knew at work.
When he finished, Jimmy returned to this seat and Olivia got up to sing next.
“You were great,” Jessica told Jimmy. “I never knew you were such a good singer, or that you liked to do karaoke.”
“Oh, I’m sure there’s a lot you don’t know about me,” he said, giving her a wink.
“Oh, I’m sure there is,” she replied with a smile. “And I look forward to learning more.”
This short story is part of the Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt, “contrast”: