Chapter 2 – Part 1
Jesse: At the Funeral Tea
Jesse drove up to her parents’ house. Cars packed the driveway and lined both side of the street. She slowly drove by the house looking for a place to park. There were people in dresses, heels, and suits walking down the street towards the house.
“Alison is going to kill us,” Jesse muttered as she scanned the sides of the road for a space. “I can’t believe you made us late.”
“Who cares.” Robbie sat hunched in the passenger seat staring out the window. “You’re late for everything anyway.”
“K, seriously, what’s gotten into you today?” she asked. Robbie just scowled and continued staring out the window.
“Finally!” She quickly pulled into a neighbour’s driveway to turn around and parked in the space in front of their house. When they got out she saw her bumper was slightly creeping over their driveway. “Close enough,” she muttered to herself.
Robbie was already moping his way back to their parents’ house. She quickly caught up to him. “You okay?” she bumped her shoulder against his.
She gave him a concerned look but didn’t say anything. They walked in silence until they reached the front door. She barely made it in the door when Alison caught sight of them. Jesse cringed as Alison stormed towards them.
“Finally! Do you see all these people here already? You left—”
“Give it a rest already,” Robbie snarled at her then slipped away into the kitchen.
Alison’s jaw dropped as she stared after him. “What was that?”
Jesse just shrugged her shoulders glad that Alison had already stopped yelling. “What can I help with?” she asked, eager to keep her calm.
“Make sure all of the hor d’oeuvres and sandwich platters are full. I think the tables are already half empty. There’s more food in the kitchen.” She bustled off with a T-towel slung on her shoulder and an apron around her waist.
Jesse washed her hands, moved to the table set up in the dinning room, and saw that Alison was right. Half the plates were empty and filled with crumbs. They had clearly been picked over. She grabbed a couple of trays and was on her way back into the kitchen when Aunt Millie stopped her with a hand to her shoulder.
She was in her nineties, slightly hunched over, with three shawls draped over her shoulders. She had a long necklace of pearls that hung down, the end swimming her tea. She didn’t seem to notice as she walked towards Jesse.
“Oh dear!” her eyes immediately brimmed with tears. Jesse set the plates down and wrapped her arms around Millie. Soon they were lost in stories about her mom when she was a kid.
“I remember the first time I met your mom. I was over visiting your Grandpa. You mom must have been about five or six. Her and Martin became fast friends.”
“Who was Martin?” Jesse asked.
Millie’s eyes opened wide for a second. “Oh dear, eh, I meant Joe of course. This old memory of mine gets fuzzy sometime. Anyway, they were running around the backyard in their bathing suits running through the sprinkler. Every time she ran through she burst out into giggles. They were attached at the hip for years, those two.” Millie wiped a tear away with her finger.
This is why she wanted to have the tea here. She wanted to hear all of the stories about her mom. She wanted to relive them and learn all of the stories she didn’t know yet. She wanted to remember and savor each memory so she wouldn’t forget the incredible woman her mother was.
She spent the next hour going from guest to guest, hugging them, crying with them, and laughing at stories. Every so often Alison would grab her by the elbow and drag her off to the kitchen or to clean/refill something. She had every intention of helping, but inevitably, she would get distracted by someone. After an hour of this Alison was clearly losing her temper.
“This was your idea!” Alison hissed at her after she dragged her once again into the kitchen.
“Exactly! I wanted to do this so we could actually talk to people and enjoy it. Not to lock ourselves in the kitchen,” she said, feeling exasperated.
“The food trays aren’t going to refill themselves.” Alison’s French braid was coming undone and fly-aways were wisping around her head. “And where’s Robbie?”
Come to think of it, she hadn’t seen him since she got here. “I’m not sure. Something’s up with him. Like, more than just Mom’s funeral.”
“Well, he hasn’t helped at all,” She huffed, before spinning on her heel and walking away.