Monday, 22 June 2015
Unprofessional Mourners - Flash fiction
She would ache more than any other there at the grave. But none present might acknowledge that. Since she was eternally tagged the mistress rather than the love of his life. The scarlet woman who broke up a family, yet it was perennially he who would not accede to her pleas to marry her once he had left the marital home. So today she was not even an official mourner. Only his own family, despite them to all intents disowning him, adopting his ex-wife as if their blood kin and treating him as the imported in-law.
Hence she had brought a gaggle of grandchildren from her own spent marriage. Her children refused to support her illicit love, taking the side of her lame duck husband in some misguided sentiment of keeping the family intact. But their progeny were of an age to remain blithely unaware or unconcerned with relationship politics and with just a few material inducements had been importuned to accompany her so she would not have to stand in isolation at the graveside. A human shield to protect her from all the daggers inevitably being cast at her. Even his family would give pause before making a scene in front of die kinder. They abided by received notions of the right way of behaving, which was why the two of them had been held beyond the pale. Thus they could never concede that passion could out-trump miserable convention.
She marched her juvenile cortege to take up their place on the cemetery grounds. There was a clear divide, an unbridgeable Red Sea, ironic echo of the two sides of wedding guests in a church, bride or groom. Why did he have to go and leave her? To expose her like this? She huddled closer to her kiddie entourage. As the coffin was lowered on its ropes, her emotions were such that she wanted to push past them and jump in after it. His family’s emotions were such that they wanted to push her in and heap the soil over.
And when the ceremony was over and he had disappeared from sight for good, they trooped back towards the car. The kids whipped out their phones and plugged themselves back into the world, after obediently heeding the presiding priest’s enjoining all phones to be switched off for the duration. As their attention was arrested by their tiny screens, one by one they fell away in pace, until their aegis had melted away entirely. The family formed into attack formation and lay siege to her before she could reach the sanctuary of her car. She should have coughed up more funds and hired some professional mourners.