Chapter 7. Funeral
Death is painful for loved ones. I imagine it’s peaceful for the departed. The death of my parents taught me just how fragile life was.
Part of me felt angry at my father for getting him, and my mother killed. The other part of me felt terrible for feeling that way.
The long black dress fit me snuggly. The sleeves of the dress flared out. The hat and the veil seemed unnecessary, but I was glad to hide my face. I hated people seeing me cry. I made sure to put on waterproof make-up.
I couldn’t believe I had to deal with the death of my parents at nineteen. I took a deep breath as I stared at myself in the mirror. I turned and walked out of the bathroom.
Cecilia was sitting there on my bed, waiting for me. “Are you holding up?”
“Somewhat,” I said.
“Thanks,” I mumbled and looked away. I wasn’t sure how many times I would hear that today, but I was sure I would get tired of hearing it. It isn’t as if a hundred or more people apologizing for my loss is going to make me feel better.
We headed down to my car. I asked Cecilia to come for support. I wasn’t sure who else to ask at this point. I drove the car out of the parking lot.
“Zayden is wondering how you are doing,” Cecilia said.
I sighed. “I’m tired of hearing about Zayden.”
“Sorry,” Cecilia muttered. “He just cares about you, Mia. It isn’t exactly the worst thing in the world.”
“Look, I know. I can’t jump into Zayden’s arms after I spent the past couple of weeks with Angel, though,” I said. “I don’t like Zayden that way.”
“It changed things a lot, didn’t it?”
“It’s like literally opening up a wound. It’s like having stitches and someone cutting them wide open. It’s fucking hell,” I said. “It was so hard to get over it the first time. I’m not even sure I was completely over it the first time. I’m just not sure how long it’s going to take. Until further notice, I am off-limits to any man.”
“Wow,” she murmured. “You really loved Angel?”
“I still do,” I said and sighed. “Look, I can’t talk about this. Time to change the subject,” I said as I tried to rub the ache away, that was in my chest. “As a matter of fact, there is something I should tell you.”
“What’s that?” She asked.
“I’m thinking about going back to Texas. I need a change of scenery. I need a big change,” I muttered. I gave her a side glance.
Cecilia was staring at me, wide-eyed. “What? Tell me you’re kidding. Why? I would miss you so much. We would all miss you, Mia.” Her voice came out frantic.
“I’ll come back and visit you. I’m not leaving until the end of the summer anyway. It’s just after all of this, I need to get out of California,” I said.
“You said you didn’t have to run from those men anymore. You said Angel took care of it. Does it have to do with that?” Cecilia’s forehead creased with worry.
“No, of course not. I told you that is over. Angel did take care of that. I’ll be fine. I just need something different. My entire life, I felt like I was searching for something. When I met Angel, I thought my searching was over, but then we broke up. It’s like searching for something all over again, something that doesn’t exist. I really need to be with family right now too. I have aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents down there,” I explained.
We lapsed into silence. I could tell that Cecilia was upset. But what could she do about it? It was my life and my choice, and I made my choice. I intended to see it through. I would miss the friends I made in California. I had every intention to keep in touch with them.
We pulled up to the funeral home. I climbed out of the car unsteadily. I took several breaths.
“Mia?” Cecilia said my name, pulling me from my daze.
“Yeah, sorry. Let’s go,” I said.
Relatives and friends already filled the funeral home. There were some men from the police force here as well. The caskets were closed. I figured this would be the case–Angel told me that their bodies were bad. The thought made me gag. I guess it didn’t seem real until now.
After greeting several people, I started to feel panicky. I turned to head for the door. An older gentleman I didn’t recognize holding a briefcase followed after me.
Once I was outside, I took several deep breaths. Get it together, Mia; you can’t bail out on your own parents’ funeral.
“Excuse me? Are you Mia Martinez?” A voice from behind me asked.
I spun around. It was the man with the briefcase. “Um, yes, I am.”
“Angel Garcia asked me to get in touch with you. My name is Joseph Smith. I’m one of mister Garcia’s lawyers. I apologize, I know it is horrid timing,” he said softly.
“Um, no, that is fine. Thank you for coming.”
“Could we speak for just a moment? It won’t be long. Of course, unless you wish to contact me at a later date. We certainly do not need to do this right now,” he said.
“Now is fine,” I said—anything to keep me out of that funeral home for a few minutes.
“Okay, well, let’s go over your father’s assets,” Joseph said. “The number of the amount your father left for you is there. He even had a life insurance policy. Since your father had no outstanding bills or funeral costs, you will receive all of that as well. If you sign this paper, I can have it transferred over to your bank account. I looked through your parents’ will, and it is all willed to you.”
“Okay,” I said. I took the pen from Joseph and stopped when I saw the number. I gasped. “Um, this can’t be right?” I asked.
“After selling the house and items that were of value, plus what he had in the bank and life insurance, the number is right. I understand it is a large amount,” Joseph said. “But it’s yours.”
“Angel,” I groaned.
“A good portion,” Joseph admitted.
“Can you give some of this back to Angel?” I asked.
“I’m sorry, miss, I can’t do that,” he said.
I sighed and scribbled my name across the paper. I spun around and handed the paper back to him.
“The money will transfer and should appear in your account by tomorrow morning at eight o’clock,” Joseph said. “My condolences, miss Martinez.”
“Thank you,” I said.
Joseph turned and headed down the steps. I watched as he got into a black Mercedes and pulled out of the parking lot. I stood there, trying to wrap my head around the ridiculous amount of money that would be in my account.
What was I supposed to do with that kind of money? With what Dad and Angel left me, I could easily never work for the rest of my life. Of course, I wasn’t that type of girl, so I would work. I turned around and headed back into the funeral home to say a proper goodbye to my parents.
When the burial was over Cecilia, and I headed back to the car. The sun was starting to set.
“Mia?” I heard a voice call.
I stopped and turned around.
Emily was running to catch up to me. She was breathless by the time she reached me. “Hey,” she said. “I didn’t get a chance to talk to you. How are you holding up?”
I wasn’t surprised that Emily showed up, but I was surprised she was speaking to me. The last time we spoke, we fought. “Well, I’m an orphan at nineteen, so how do you think?”
“I’m sorry,” I said, feeling guilty. I had no real reason to snap at Emily like that. “I’ll be fine. I just really want to get back home.”
She nodded. “Well, I hope you keep in touch.”
“I will,” I said. I closed the distance between us and embraced Emily. “Thanks for coming.”
Cecilia and I climbed into the car and pulled away.
“Who was that?” Cecilia asked as I headed out of the cemetery.
“My cousin Emily. We used to be close, but we drifted apart,” I said.
“Boys,” I snorted.
Cecilia looked surprised. “Did she like someone you liked?”
“No, she dated Angel’s best friend. I was upset with her for the way that she treated him. I guess, maybe that is why Jesse wouldn’t speak to me...” I trailed off. Jesse was probably angry with me for leaving Angel.
Cecilia nodded in understanding. “Well, to each her own, right?”
“Yeah,” I chuckled.
We drove the rest of the way back to the college in silence. There wasn’t much to talk about after a funeral. I noticed funerals tended to leave people speechless. Funerals were painful, and I prayed it would be my last for a while.
It was nice to see some of my family, but not in the way that I did. It’s better to see family during a happy event, but I tend to see more of mine during a funeral. My family is big on both sides, but I don’t see a lot of them too often.
It was dark by the time that we got back. The dorms were pretty quiet, which was surprising for a Friday night. We headed straight for our dorm room. I excused myself to go to the bathroom to change.
I changed into a pair of short black shorts and a black tank top. When I was finished, I came out, and Cecilia was in a different outfit.
“Going out?” I asked.
“Yeah, for a little bit. Are you going to be okay?”
“Yeah, I’m good. I’m just going to go to bed,” I told her.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, go. Have a good time,” I said.
“See you later.”
“Later,” I said.
Cecilia headed out of the dorm. I turned the lights off and crawled into bed. I curled myself into a ball under my big quilt.
It was a quilt that my mom made me a long time ago. The thought of my mom brought tears to my eyes. I miss you, mama. What am I supposed to do without you?
A knock on the door pulled me from my thoughts. I threw the blanket off and wiped the tears away that had escaped. I turned a dim light on by my bedside.
I opened up the door, and my eyes widened. “Zayden?” I asked, confused.
“Hey,” he said. “I’m sorry. Were you sleeping?”
I sighed. It’s about time to let him down. This had to stop. “No, come in.”
He stepped around me and into the dorm room. “Um, I can come back later...” he trailed off. He looked at my messy bed then to Cecilia’s bed, which was made.
“No, now is fine. We need to talk,” I said.
“Okay,” he said. “What happened to you?”
“We’re not talking about that. I just got back from burying my parents, so as you can imagine, my patience is wearing thin. Zayden, I don’t want to see you anymore. You’re a sweet guy, but I’m a fucking disaster. I thought I was ready to date again, but I’m not, especially not after all that happened. I need you to leave me alone.”
He inhaled sharply. “Wow, just like that? I finally got you to say yes to me, and now it’s no more?”
“I’m sorry. I’m just trying to rip the band-aid off quickly, okay?”
He nodded. “Alright. I guess...” he trailed off. “I’ll see you around, then?”
“Yeah,” I nodded.
He made a beeline for the door.
I moved around him to let him out. I felt bad but not bad enough to take back what I said. Zayden wasn’t my type anyway. Though, I wasn’t sure at that point what my type was.
After I crawled back under the covers, I turned the light off. After flooding my pillow with tears, I finally drifted off to sleep.
There were a couple of raps on my door. I groaned and turned over to look at my alarm. The clock read three-thirty in the morning. You have to be kidding me? Can’t you let a woman sleep? Have I not had a shitty enough week? Let’s just pour some salt on my wounds and call it a fucking day!
I climbed out of bed and stumbled around in the dark. I turned the lamp on by my bed. I unlocked the door and threw the door open.
A loud gasp escaped me, and my eyes widened. I blinked several times to be sure that I wasn’t seeing things. I bit down on my lip hard to be sure that I was awake. What the hell is going on?