This is a work of fiction.
Later that morning, I meet Adam at the church.
We arrange Aunt Bev’s funeral for a Monday so that her friends from the salon won’t have to take a day off.
I dread going home and calling Becky, but I know I have to. She doesn’t go to church, and if Adam calls and tells her her best friend is dead, she’ll never forgive me for not telling her myself.
Once I get home, it takes me an hour to work up the courage to call Becky. Jason, Amanda’s youngr brother, answers the phone.
“Hi, who’s calling?”
“It’s Alexis. Can I talk to your mom please?”
“Nope. She’s at work. I’m the only one here. Want to guess what I’m doing?”
“Do I do anything else? Nope.”
He’s only sixteen, but he’s extremely smart.
“Did Amanda tell you?”
“Tell me what?”
“She’s going to cooking school.”
“Mom almost had a heart attack.”
Bad choice of words, but of course, he doesn’t know about poor Aunt Bev, and I’m not going to tell him before his mom or Amanda.
“Julia and Sophia thought it was great. And guess what Roger said?”
“What did he say?”
“He said, ‘Finally somebody in this family will learn how to cook!’ I thought Mom was going to kill him.”
Roger’s in his final year of medical school, and wants to become a trauma surgeon.
Julia, the oldest, is an obstetrician, and Sophia’s doing her Ph.D. in psychology.
Becky has a Ph.D. in botany and works long hours, now that her kids are older.
John, Amanda’s dad, was a doctor who specialized in internal medicine before becoming sick and dying when he was far too young.
“So I’ll tell Mom to call you when she gets home. She’s all excited about some experiment she’s doing, so it probably won’t be until after dinner.”
“Okay, thanks. Say, what are you going to be when you grow up?”
“Still undecided, both on what and on the growing up part.”
“I think you’d make a great doctor.”
“Do you? I was actually thinking about doing something a little less stressful.”
“Yeah. Roger gets scared. Don’t tell anybody, but he has nightmares.”
“I’m sure those will go away once he’s finished school.”
“Yeah, maybe, but I don’t like being afraid, you know? I think I might do a Ph.D. in something instead of an M.D. The problem is I don’t know in what something yet. Anyway, I have to run. I’ll ask Amanda to call you. Bye.”
Before I can remind him that I want to speak to his mom, he’s gone.
An hour later, the phone rings.
“Hi. Jason said you called.”
“Hi. I called to talk to your mom.”
“Well, she’s not here, but you can talk to me.”
“Can I talk to both of you? I shouldn’t really tell you this on the phone.”
“Our phone’s not being bugged.”
She sounds irritated.
“That’s not what I’m worried about. What I have to tell you isn’t good, and I’d prefer it if you came here or I came there.”
“Mom won’t even be home until like maybe midnight, and I don’t want her to kill me, so I’m not calling her at work. You can come here if you want, but I promised Mom I’d help with the housework, so I don’t really have a lot of time to chat with you.”
She doesn’t get it.
“Look, I have bad news about Aunt Bev. I need to tell your mom. Please call her at work.”
“Is she sick?”
“No. She’s dead.”
There’s a long silence.
“Sorry. Jason actually told me you wanted to talk to Mom, but I said I’d call you. I’ll call her now.”
The funeral is one long cry on my part.
Every member of Amanda’s family is there, but only one person from the salon bothers to show up.
After we’ve eaten bad sandwiches and drunk even worse coffee, I go home to a house bereft.
Part 6 will be posted on Sunday, November 29.