Welcome to another edition of Inside the Writer’s Studio.
First time it is a new piece of writing. My writer’s workshop is focusing on the family drama this semester. Also we are doing a lot of reading too. This piece was partly inspired by Medea, though the connection is very, very extreme. I was in class when my Professor asked about the themes. I was thinking about how Jason seemed to just disown Medea to marry Kreon’s daughter. What if I wrote a piece about second families? What happens to those left behind in the first family?
Once again, an image formed in my mind of two daughters at their fathers grave. One of them would be full of spite while the younger one wouldn’t. In my mind, the age difference was that the dad walked out 5 years ago when the older one was 14 and the younger sister was only 10. I was trying to have the older girl desecrate a grave but I didn’t know how to do it without the girl act younger than her age. (I had her spit on the grave, and then kick it) Writers Club definitely helped me change things around.
The old leafy trees stood silent guard over the cemetery. The mourners were all gathered around a new grave, listening to the priest.
“The Lord is my Sheppard, I shall not want…”
Two teenagers with dark hair were leaning against one of the trees, watching the ceremony from afar.
“…I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil…”
Both had managed to find black headbands and wrap them around their arms, but they were not dressed for a funeral. The taller one was wearing skinny jeans and an old t-shirt. The shorter one was in shorts and a tank top.
“And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” The priest paused for a moment. “Would anybody like to say a few words?”
The younger teenager started from the tree but was held back by her older sister. “Don’t.” She struggled for a second, twisting under the sure grip.
“No, Brittany. Not going to happen.”
While they were arguing, a sharply dressed man with gelled hair came forward. “…And when Gina brought Edward home with her for Thanksgiving, I didn’t really know what to think. But we talked after dinner and I got to know him. And I liked him…We all did…”
The older girl kept balling her fists up as the man went on and on about how much Edward meant to the family. “Easy,” Brittany said, putting her hand on top of sister’s shoulder.
The man finished speaking and then the priest said “…and while we remember that we were once dust before and will become dust again, we ask thee O Lord to take your servant Edward up into the Kingdom of Heaven where he will be happy forever with you and the saints in paradise. Amen.”
A mummer of “Amen” drifted through the crowd before they started to file in front of the grave. Some hugged a woman with dyed blonde hair and a simple black dress. Others let their hand linger on the giant picture frame that stood next to a flower wreath. They slowly drifted away, until it was just a woman and her young child of three or four standing with the priest. He said something to the woman, who nodded, before he left her alone. For a while she held her child by the hand and stood, silent. Finally she turned and started the long walk back to the limo.
“Now we can go?” Brittany said as soon as the woman had left the gravesite. She started to walk but turned around when she noticed her sister wasn’t right behind her.
“I don’t know why you want to see the grave, Brittany. I mean there was a reason why we weren’t invited.”
“I don’t really care, Tess. I still want to see him.” And she had set off for the grave, Tess trotting behind, muttering something about wanting to go home.
There was a clear outline of where the workers had dug a day earlier. Brittany could smell the strong scent of the upturned dirt. There was even a space marked for where the gravestone would go in a few months. But for now there was the picture frame on a stand with a small plaque and the flower wreath next to it. Brittany traced the small letters of his name on the plaque. Tess came up and stood behind her.
“ ‘Loving Husband and Father to Gina and Gabriel. Gone too soon. Forever in our hearts. Requiescat in Pace.’ Who the fuck are Gina and Gabriel?” Tess read from behind.
“Must be the woman and child we saw.”
“She looked like a slut.” Brittany turned her head and glared at her sister. “I didn’t even bloody recognize any one in the crowd -”
“-All of his new friends.” Brittany got up from the ground and tried to wipe the dirt from her hands.
“…Does that mean none of his old family knows?”
“Unless they read the notice in the paper like I did.”
“What did the paper say he died of?”
Tess scoffed. “Shit. Mom and I told him he needed to exercise and lose weight…” She shook her head. “Let’s go, Brit, I’m getting hot.”
“Wait.” From her pocket Brittany pulled a folded-up photo. She unfolded it and stuck it in the corner of the frame. “We’ll miss you, Dad.” She said softly to the grave.
“No, we won’t,” Tess said. She took the photo and ripped it up. “You walked out on us five years ago; now I’m walking out on you. Bastard!” She stalked off as the pieces fluttered to the base of the grave. Brittany took one look at the ripped faces of herself, her sister and Dad, before running to catch up with her sister.