Writing Prompt #169 - Flesh out this character: Juliana Ritter, 53; she is an extrovert but gets depressed easily.
What a sight she is in that dress. I keep thinking it over and over to myself, but each time it's just as true. Maybe it's the champagne I brought back from France. Maybe, the way the chandelier reflects off the creamy chiffon that hangs in a soft sway low on her back. Maybe just the fact that a 53 year old woman can still pull off a backless dress better than most of the 30-year-olds in the room.
I find myself back at the long silver ice bucket, filling my flute with another round of the crisp, chilled effervescent champagne. Parties are always a bit much for me, but I never resist an opportunity to people watch, or an opportunity to let Juliana get dressed up and entertain guests. She doesn't even need to host a party, because where she goes, the party follows. The old-crony socialites follow for the chance to be near the most interesting divorcee' in town, and their mistresses follow for the young men and their waistcoat-stashes of illicit drugs. The young men were there for one reason: the seduction of Juliana Ritter.
Showing up on this scene as a 30-something male is like showing up for strip tease try outs. Everyone looks great, though mostly over dressed, but everyone exposes everything before the night is through. We all have our little performance where we try to score the most attention, but in the end you leave feeling a little used. Such is the life competing for the attention of Juliana. The worst part about it is, she's not even really interested.
Unfortunately, Juliana is addicted to the social scene. Addicted to the spotlight. Once the blushing young bride of a billion-dollar construction company owner, she made herself quite comfortable in the position of "trophy wife." Her husband was 20 years her senior, and had already raised a family previous to his marriage to the young theater major, Miss Ritter. He had no interest in starting over, and quite frankly, that was just fine with Juliana. Her sisters all had children anyway, so there were plenty of kids to love. Why mess with her social schedule?
Eventually, the importance of being in the midst of everything overtook the need to feel comforted at home. Her husband was gone for weeks at a time, and she tired of having limited freedom, even though she did what she pleased most of the time. She tired of portraying the perfect wife to a loveless marriage, and bored of being left home alone but not being allowed companionship. The end was near, the union began to dissolve. Julianna stopped pretending she was every perfect match to her husband's counterpart, and started living a more separate life. Months later, she found her husband's credit card bill for two tickets to Hawaii, when he said he was in Milwaukee closing a big deal.
The controversy became the focus of her life for over a year. As many do, the couple divorced. Julianna walked away with 500 million dollars in real estate and assets, but you'd never know anything ever happened if you saw her face to face. Cool, collected, it's like nothing phased her life in the slightest. Unless, of course, you were allowed into her internal world.
I came into the position of law assistant nearly 8 years ago. Straight out of law school and still not too sure on my feet, I took the position under a brilliant divorce lawyer, who put me to work on the Ritter divorce case. One day, as I was processing legal documentation for my employer, I looked up and there she was. She had come to drop off papers and discuss with me a few of the details of the case, since my employer was away on business for a few days. She was delicately featured, with her hair swept up and off her face, exposing deep, worried brown eyes. The eyes were the only place she wore her pain, and you had to look hard to find it. If you weren't looking hard enough, you'd probably never even notice.
I was taken aback but did my best to seem professional, together. She oozed confidence and grace, and by the end of our appointment, I had been invited to a cocktail party at an old, dear friend of her father's. Not knowing what I was saying or even quite what I was getting myself into, I politely agreed to attend.