The morning sun gleamed on Adela’s forehead even during that moment. The sun must not have gotten the memo of her father’s funeral, Adela thought. 1868-1906: Here lies a loving father, husband, and brother, is what her mother ordered for the tomb stone. As if the two did not argue hours on end, shouting regrets to one another. It was her father, Harold Strangeworth who lay in the coffin on Sunday. Dr. Budimir said it was a stroke that killed him two months ago on the leather lounge chair that has seen no action since eighteen ninety four. Adela’s twelve year old brain did not understand any of the doctor’s terms he used in the waiting room, but nodded her head absentmindedly.
Few people stood around eyeing the coffin as some said their last words. They had expected a bigger fan club, considering her father was the town’s favourite for years now. He was on the community watch club, and actually ran the thing. Adela never understood why her father went out of his way to protect others. Across the graves, she could see Jeremy Wilson and Samantha Thomson closer than they should be, touching a little more than she thought necessary. Monotonous shirt riding up, Sam exaggerated her hands. Ew, Adela thought. She wondered what Sam’s mother would think of that if she were to find out. Dismissing her thought and their actions, she turned her attention to the little people who attended the funeral.
Wails came from her mother as she held her hand tightly, but slightly too tight for Adela to be comforted by the gesture. Leaning forward, Adela could see her mother was still wearing her wedding ring. She had refused to take it off even when washing dishes, as if she were not afraid of it getting swept away by the black hole of the drain, as if hoping it would. Adela herself has not cried since the day her father was pronounced dead. After Budimir uttered the words, she shed one tear, but had no more to give. Maybe it was because the reality of it hadn’t kicked in, or that she was born stone cold. Either way, the thought made a shiver go down her spine.
“You okay?” whispered Edna leaning in to Adela, her hand gently placed on her shoulder. Ed was the second born, and wasn’t liked by the neighbours. Her loud mouth, and wide hand gestures were a turnoff to the old folk. It was especially uncouth for a young lady of nineteen o’ six to be so extroverted, but Adela loved her sister, even with no filter. Adela merely nodded her head the slightest bit. She had two sisters, Edna, the loud one, and Irene, the cute one. Irene probably had no idea what was going on considering her age. Although, six was a spongy age her would say to her. She was viewing the world through wide eyes, taking in every detail.
For the past two months, it has been them three, but mostly Adela, manning the house. She collected veggies and fruits from the garden, while Ed washed the dishes, while Irene, as perfectly as she could, gave instructions. Or, to be better put, demands. Since her father’s passing, Barbara, her mother, has been locked up in the study writing letters to God knows who. Leaving the three musketeers, as her father called them, to fend for themselves.
The sun began to fall by the end of the funeral. The attendees were thanked, and said their goodbye’s. Awkwardly hugging Barbara as if she were now a foreign object found on mars. Adela, now seated in the passenger side of the Chevrolet, side glanced her mother.
Taking a deep breath, Adela spoke, “What’s the matter, mother?”
“I can’t believe those people!” her Barbara shouted, her voice sounding strangled. “I can’t believe there were only six of us there!”
Adela opened her mouth, but her mother continued, “After all he’s done for those ungrateful pricks! I’m going to give them a piece of mind is what!”
“What will you do mama?” Irene half screamed, bouncing up and down as if she were about to receive free ice cream.
“Don’t worry about it, baby,” her mother dismissed. “Don’t you worry.”
With that, the drive home was silent. Ghost-like, her father’s absence crept on the now family of four’s back’s. When they arrived home, they dismounted from the vehicle with only the click and slam of the doors.
It was two hours later when Adela walked into her father’s old study, where her mother immediately escaped to after stepping into the house. She was having trouble reaching the raspberry jam, and needed an adult for the first time in two months. She could see her mother, hunched over the carrel, hands moving furiously along the paper laid out in front of her. The door creaked, and her mother looked up with a start. Barbara stood up, almost knocking down the chair behind her.
“Out,” her mother pointed in her direction.
“I just came for,” Adela fumbled with her words, “help. What are you working on?”
Adela walked toward the desk, grabbing the note off of it. Scanning the words on the page, her mother’s handwriting was childlike, her eyes widened in horror as she read.
“Dear Sara Jennings,” she recited under her breath, “Not that it is any of my business, but I regret to inform you that your husband, Cody, has been seen with Margaret Dubri who lives on fourth and Scalene Ave. They were seen canoodling.” She could not read any more of her mother’s harsh words. Adela also noticed that her mother did not fail to sign the letter anonymous.
Adela looked up as her mother stomped toward her, “Ma, this isn’t right, and you know it.”
“Give me that!” her mother was yelling now. “She didn’t even bother coming to the funeral, after all your father has done for the Jennings. Plus, it’s none of your business!”
Now Adela was the one fueling with anger, “It’s none of yours either!”
For a moment they had a staring competition, but as she saw her mother’s hand lift behind her head, she was struck hard by her mother’s palm. Her own hand immediately landed on her face, gripping her cheek. Her skin stung, but not as much as her pride. Her legs were moving faster than her mind. She ran out of the house, sprinting to the playground down the street. When she arrived, she plopped down own the park bench breathing raggedly. She remembered sitting on this bench as a child. It had been in the same old, rickety park for as long as she could recall and never had any real significance to her.
“Heard about your dad,” a breathy voice said beside her. It was Samantha Thompson who spoke, lazily holding a whiskey in her hand.
“Mmh,” Adela hummed, her head in her hands while she stared at the floor.
She felt Samantha’s body heat as she leaned in, and whispered in her ear, “Wonder how your mother’s managed with that ditsy brain of hers.”
Her breath lingered in her earlobe for a moment before Adela reacted. Shock washed over Adela as she rose her eyes to look at Sam. She was never a nice girl, but Adela would have no way thought she would utter such cruel words. Again, her body reacted faster than her brain because her fist was connected to Samantha’s face in a matter of seconds, which surprised Adela herself. Again, she was running, hoping Samantha didn’t come after her.
“Brat!” Samantha screamed after her, while clutching her eye.
Adela sprinted back home, and slammed the door behind her as she entered her old, peeling paint covered house. Running up the stairs two at a time, she thinks of ways to write her letter. When she opens the door to her room, she scans it. Finding white paper and a pencil, she laid it on her desk. Adela’s fingers hesitated for a moment. Second thoughts. Deciding, she wrote. She wrote. She wrote in the way she saw her mother write, using adult like penmanship she learned from her father, instead of a child’s.
She read her words aloud, “Dear Mrs. Thompson, I thought it may interest you to know that your daughter, Samantha, is secretly pregnant. It may be hard to hear, but it is the truth and the truth hurts. As to who the father is, maybe you should ask Samantha regarding such information.”
It was signed anonymous of course.
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