News flash – funerals are boring. I’ve no idea which old-family-friend-relative has fallen off the perch this time. Probably some second cousin of Nonno’s who I last saw at somebody’s wedding and tried to dodge knowing they would want to kiss me and I’d end up with gravel rash across my cheek thanks to their feral facial hair. This treatment comes equally from the men and women.
Ok, even I have to admit it’s disrespectful. I’m sure Mama told me who died - probably between the times we were shrieking at each other - but right now I can’t even remember the conversation.
I’m slouched in a pew, hoping the heating will get turned up. More people drift into the church. Oh, there’s Celine. What’s she doing at a family funeral? Drama queen Celine, all dressed in black like a crow and hugging everything in sight. She’s more at home here than I am. My relatives think that if they don’t wail and howl and throw themselves onto the coffin everybody would disapprove because they’re not grieving enough. Celine’d remind me whose funeral it is if I asked, but then she’ll sit at this pew and I’d be stuck with her.
Luckily, she doesn’t stop, just walks past me. An usher is handing out booklets, but she doesn’t give me one. I peek over somebody’s shoulder.
The photo jumps out at me. Somebody screwed up. Big time. The girl is wearing the dress I wore to Maria’s wedding, with her hair done the way mine was.
And her face is the face I see in the mirror.
Wait. It's coming back to me. Maria's wedding . . . My reclusive great aunt Phyllis slouched in a garish muumuu, her long frazzled hair falling onto a plate of fish. God, I remember that fish. It had the weirdest taste. I'd managed to choke down half of it and then swapped with Phyllis for her chicken.
"Poor Phyllis," Uncle Ernie sighs. "Food poisoning. On what should have been such a happy occasion, too."
"I heard she wasn't found for a week," his wife adds. "No one bothered to check until the neighbors complained about the howling cats."
Food poisoning from the fish? I think, leaning back to enjoy the organ music. Maria must be feeling sooo guilty right now.
Opening: Anon......Continuation: Tamara Marnell