Eve stepped out of her car and locked the doors. Not that there was much chance of it being stolen in a chapel car park, and especially not when it was surrounded by BMW’s and Lexus’, but living in the neighbourhood that she did now, it had become a valuable habit.
She was the last person through the doors of the chapel, just managing to squeeze through before two well-dressed and solemn looking young men pushed them closed. The pews were filled to bursting point and Eve had to wedge herself into the last beside a disgruntled looking old woman. She scanned the crowd, looking for any familiar faces. It was full of designers suits and over sized hats; the type of people that she normally went out of her way to avoid. Although she did recognise a few faces, she had no desire to speak to any of them. Some she remembered with pity and contempt, others with out right fear.
The service itself was the generic and stiflingly depressing type that she had expected and it wasn’t long before the heat from all the living in the room became to much and she had to wrestle her coat off in the tight space, accidentally knocking her neighbours hat askew as she did. Eve was subjected top evil mutterings for the remainder of the service no matter how many apologetic looks she gave. She found it difficult to keep her mind on what the priest was saying; she always had. Her eyes had their own habit of wandering to the artwork set around the church that had always disturbed her as a child. Jesus on the cross, the agony clear on his face, the blood slowly dripping from his wounds; the look of utter despair on Mary’s face as she held her dead son; the stain glass windows depicting only the most gruesome and bloody scenes from the bible. Eve was not surprised that so many people were turning to atheism, it seemed a damn sight more cheerful than this. Only the sound of her name echoing off the bare stone walls could drag her attention back to the business at hand.
“Our thoughts and prayers also go out to the family and friends of the deceased and especially their daughter Eve, wherever she may be.” The priest’s sombre voice echoed off the walls as a murmur of ascent rippled over the congregation. Eve stiffened and felt her face grow red. It was as though he had bellowed those words, like any second the entire congregation would begin to turn one by one, their vicious and cruel eyes boring into her. But she was just being fanciful. The rest of her parent’s funeral carried on as usual and no one noticed the estranged daughter sitting in the back row. She was grateful that her appearance had changed enough to grant her anonymity in this crowd. Very grateful.
The service ended and the coffins carried down the aisle. She held her breath as they passed, unsure of what emotions she would feel; it was the closest she had been to her parents since she left. Would she feel guilt? Sorrow? Revulsion, even? But she felt nothing. They were just boxes. Remnants. Nothing to cry over. She was in no worse a position now than if she had never received that phone call and had no idea that her parents were dead. The church began to empty and Eve was practically pushed from her seat by the crotchety old biddy whose hat she had knocked askew. Some people just knew how bear a grudge.
Outside she didn’t hang about, just in case she was recognised, but headed straight for her car. She wasn’t going to follow the hearse, but she would probably visit the graves later, under the cover of darkness when she could be by herself. There would be no sentimental words spoken, her mother never would have stood for that and her father would have laughed at her openly for such weakness, not to mention the fact that she felt none towards them anyway. She unlocked her car and slide into the driver’s seat breathing a sigh of relief that she had come through unscathed.
“I hate funerals.” She said to herself.
Without warning, the passenger side door opened and a passenger got in and closed the door before Eve could even thing of an appropriate profanity to direct at them. An ornate black hat that had a black netted veil that one could pull down to cover your face was sitting on the intruder’s lap, clutched in her small gloved hands.
The woman turned towards her. “Hello Eve. I’m glad you came.” She said, pulling Eve into a surprise embrace. Eve embraced her back out of reflex, realising finally who she was.
“Yeah. Last minute decision.” She replied when she had eventually been released. Not entirely last minute as she had driven half the night to get here, but she certainly hadn't spent any time agonising over it.
“When I spoke to you on the phone I wasn’t sure if you would come. You seemed so distant. So different.” The elderly woman looked Eve up and down with a scrutinising eye. “You’ve changed so much.” She said in a serious voice.
Eve straightened her black skirt self consciously. “Yes, well, it’s been a few years. How are you, Marie?”
Marie returned her hands to her hat and examined it closely before answering. “Things have been tough the last few years. I fell out with my son a few months ago. I haven’t seen my grandchildren since.” She gave a nonchalant shrug of her shoulders, but Eve could tell she was close to tears. She put an arm around her shoulders. “But today had nothing to do with me. Today is for Graham and Joanna.” She returned her gaze to Eve’s face and Eve retracted her arm. There was genuine sadness in the woman's eyes that Eve just couldn't bring herself to reflect or even fake.
“Why did you want me to come today, Marie? No one would have noticed or cared if I had not shown up.” Eve gestured out the window towards the crowd still trickling from the doors of the chapel.
Marie grabbed her hand tightly. “I would have.” She said firmly. “And I know it may be hard to believe but so would your parents.” Eve had to bite the inside of her cheek to hold back the hysterical laughter. “Will you come to my house? You can stay the night and we can talk about things.” Marie smiled warmly at her, eagerly.
Eve was already shaking her head before she had finished her sentence. “I can’t. I have work tomorrow and-”
“I’m sure that you can get a day off for this.” Marie cut in.
Eve hesitated. What was there to talk about? People generally shared heart-warming and comical stories about the dead after grieving, but Eve was pretty sure that there were no such things involving her parents. She opened her mouth to reply and looked into the old lady’s bright blue eyes. So eager, so lonely. And she couldn’t say no. Not when she knew so much about her. “Ok.”
Marie beamed at her. “We’ll wait until everyone else leaves and you can follow my car.” She said before escaping out the passenger side as though she thought Eve would change her mind.
Eve laid her head back on the head rest. She had promised herself never to come back here. So why had she broken her own fundamental rule? Why had she come to the funeral of the two people who had caused her more pain than everyone else in her life put together?
“I wish I knew.” She breathed, turning her key in the ignition and belting herself in.