Darrell looked up from his cell phone, glanced around the room and rolled his exasperated eyes. He scoffed and shifted in his chair. These people, he thought, they’d never cared.
His aunt’s audible sobs broke through the relative quiet of the funeral parlor. Of course, she always made a scene. Even at a funeral, she was the center of attention.
Cousin Blanche, as she preferred to call herself, stood up, and the whispers hushed.
Darrell sneered at Cousin Blanche and her hypocrisy. Cousin Blanche made Auntie Clarabelle’s life miserable. Blanche spent most of her adult years trash-talking Clarabelle, though Clarabelle was older by at least a generation.
Darrell loved Auntie Clarabelle and her easy and open personality. Auntie Clarabelle always had a smile ready for him, wrapped in infinite patience.
“Blanche has a special venom she spews by the drop and at intervals, so she’ll never be empty,” Auntie Clarabelle told Darrell many times.
“It’s all about the money her mother and I inherited,” Auntie Clarabelle said, “Blanche wants it all.”
“Why?” Darrell asked.
Clarabelle answered with a mystified shrug, though the glint in her eyes told Darrell otherwise.
“She will never see a cent,” Auntie Clarabelle vowed, “she’ll have it over my dead body. And you can take that to the bank!”
Now Auntie Clarabelle lay in the coffin across the room, and only Darrell knew the truth.
Blanche, dabbing at her crocodile tears with a handkerchief, tottered, ever the victim, towards the coffin.
All eyes watched the sanctimonious Blanche make her way across the room. The surrounding air congealed with pride and gloating; the best woman was still standing. Blanche had won over Clarabelle, if only because she was decades younger. Now it would all be hers.
Darrell smirked, he imagined Blanche’s expression when she found out.
“It’s all gone, hee-hee,” Auntie Clarabelle whispered on her deathbed as Darrell bent down to kiss her goodbye, “there’s nothing left.”
The room gasped and Darrell’s eyebrows shot up in surprise.
Cousin Blanche gave a watery, sudden wheeze, then toppled over and hit the floor with a surprised look on her face and stiff as a board. It took a few moments for the family to react, as if time had held its breath before heaving it out in a collective “oh!”
Then time sped up and people rushed to Blanche’s side. But Darrell had seen her face; the woman had dropped dead in that instant. People hustled around him, moaning and screeching. Someone yelled for a doctor. An uncle shook and pounded on Blanche’s chest. The room was a flurry of surprise and drama, like on Auntie Clarabelle’s favorite soap opera.
Through the crowd, Darrell glimpsed Auntie Clarabelle’s coffin. Auntie Clarabelle shimmered beside it; she caught his eye and winked.