Let’s begin at the beginning. It was a quiet evening when I pulled up outside the Warrens’ front porch. It didn’t bother me that even after the passage of Ten Years; their house had not changed a bit. The place looked as ugly as always. I never would come here, not if I had my way. But when your grandfather makes you the executor of his will, you have no choice but to visit this hell hole where you were, unfortunately, born.
My name is Galilea Warren. Yes, derived from the great astronomer’s name. Let’s just say growing up with that name was not an easy thing. Gillian, Jill, Gale, Galileo, Lea, Lily…were the names preferred by my peers and teachers. I hate this town, I hate the people who live here and I hate that I had to come down here for this stupid funeral.
I stared at the door, the leaves scattered hither-thither. The door opened and I saw a distraught looking woman calling me over. At first glance, something about her lanky, malnourished appearance would make you pity her but that would be a rookie mistake, under that fragile yet effective guise was a heathen. Behind the posh, Botox-ed exterior lied a cruel, manipulative and money-grubbing bitch. Oh, and she’s not malnourished, just bulimic. She was dressed in half-mourning clothes and had fabulously covered up her bald spot with a brown weave.
Victoria welcomed Gilly inside, as always, she had a bit of an air which never sat well with Gilly. Victoria said, “Hi, you’re here. Didn’t think we’d see you…last time I saw you, it was on Gemma’s wedding night. Which was about two years ago.” She followed that with a coy smile, a smile so fake that it made Gilly want to jump back onto the porch and howl for a Taxi at this godforsaken hour. But as disturbed as she felt, over the years she had learnt how to deal with dimwits such as most of her relatives. Gilly smiled, she replied, “Yeah, sorry aunt Vi. I was just busy with my job and life. All of us can’t sit around with a Marie Claire in one hand and Margherita in the other.” Gilly smirked while Victoria gave her a steely smile and staggered away into the living room.
The living room was full of people, people I did not know. I just smiled politely to avoid the possibility of having to engage in tedious small talk. I navigated through the crowd and tried to find a familiar face. And I stumbled upon my married cousin Gemma making out with what’s-his-face in the Coat room. I would have just slipped out but Gem stopped me. She pushed away that guy who couldn’t stop slobbering all over her and made her way to me.
Gemma was feeling unhappy; she saw gloom everywhere. She watched everyone being busy in their small groups, just like high school. All alone since birth, until her last breath. Amidst all the thoughts she looked at the young guy checking her out. She saw the signs of trouble but it was either a tall drink of blonde boy or a shot of vodka in a pre-funeral party with no alcohol. She went over to him, the boy flirted with her a little and then they went over to the Coat room, or the room which used to be her bedroom. Proximity, a tinge of desperation with the heady intoxication of overflowing serotonin and adrenaline. Yes, that is the novice’s guide on how to complicate your love life. A five-minute tongue-fest later, Gemma noticed a figure trying to slip away. She wouldn’t have bothered to stop till she saw that it was her best friend, Gilly.
Gemma pounced on me, she planted kisses on my cheeks and it did make me smile. Gemma grabbed my hand and led me to the attic. The attic was the only place where we could be ourselves: Our secret paradise in the woeful era of our teen years. I looked at her, she had changed. Her eyes seemed sad, and she looked like a lost puppy. Like a very attractive, rose-blonde puppy.
Gemma couldn’t keep her excitement in check, she had to hold Gilly. It had been so long since she had seen her. Gilly had long black hair, she looked small and all that baby fat seemed to have disappeared into thin air. Gemma had this stingy feeling prodding her mind. She felt jealous.
I asked her how she was doing; she said that Doug, her husband, was too busy working to ever be seen with her. She said that the boy was just a way to get her away from this boring situation. She said that she didn’t expect to see me here.
I didn’t know why but I felt no curiosity about her. I actually did not care what was happening in her life, how different she had become. I just didn’t care. She went on about her boring bullshit, whined about some picket-fence family problems. Something about wanting to get pregnant, all of it: dull, useless conversation. I gave her a small smile, said a few cliché things about how I’m happy for her and how I hope she gets all the happiness in the world.
Gemma could see that Gilly was indifferent to her, she poured out all her thoughts in front of Gilly. But Gilly wasn’t interested. She saw her trying to feign interest but she couldn’t hide how bored she felt with this conversation.
I spoke up; I told her that I was now a tenured professor of Biochemistry. She grinned and congratulated me. She asked me why I came, I told her about the will. I said that I’d leave right after the wake was over, just after announcing his last thoughts. Gemma asked, “Why did he make you the executor of his will?” I said, “Probably because he knew that this was the only way I’d come to this town.” We laughed over the weird antics of that deluded old man. God, he was an old-fashioned bore who had nothing in common with either of us.
I did feel a bit of nostalgia but my memories were mostly a composite of bad events, worse people and unnecessary drama.