Two plates made of fine china with gold-flecked flowers along the rim sitting on black chargers to offset and highlight their delicate attributes sat in the center spots of the long, oak table. Two linen napkins in mauve with black trim and gold flowers sat folded artfully next to the plates. Heavy silver forks, knives, and spoons blossomed from the fold of the napkins. Three glasses, a Champaign flute, a red wine goblet, and a water glass, were arranged in an arc in front of each plate, their fine polish giving the light in the room something to dance off while they waited to be filled with bubbles. Large vases of flowers sat at each end of the table, far enough away from the two chairs to have their sweet aroma permeate the room while not upsetting the smells of the meal. The colors of the flowers matched the table settings beautifully and were there to enhance the dining experience. The two heavy oak chairs, ornately carved with designs featuring the previous conquests of the family, sat empty and ready for the two diners. Once filled, no one else would be in the room that evening. A carafe of red wine sat off to the right of the place settings, and I pitcher of water sat to the left. The center of the table was left clear, waiting for the meal to begin to be filled with the plates and dishes needed for serving. The edges of the crisp white tablecloth moved slightly, brushing the tops of the chairs, in the wake of the staff working to prepare the rest of the room for the special guest.
The table was only one piece of the setup. The rich wall hangings had been brought out of storage to be hung on three of the four walls. Each hanging had been woven with care to depict an element of the familial history. These were so treasured it was only for the most important guests that they left the safety of storage to be seen in the great room. On the fourth wall, the wall the visitor would be facing during dinner, hung the family tree. Only one weaver family in the village was trusted with this piece. It depicted little scenes for each branch and generation and required updating as the family grew. This piece was always hung unless it was being worked on, and was very intentionally the focal point in the room. On the opposite wall sat the fireplace, with a lively fire crackling away. The mantle was the home to small portraits of the youngest generation of the family, all posed and proper, in ornate silver frames. The staff made sure the portraits were polished and arranged just so, following the whims of the host. The guest would sit in front of the fireplace, looking at the family tree. It would be up to them to ignore the pull of both to stay focused on their host. The host would sit beneath their ancestors, facing their legacy, pulling support and strength from both directions.
* All 500Words are fiction. Any resemblance to people or events is strictly coincidental. *