It was drizzling that Tuesday, a sullen, persistent skin-soaker that matched the mood of the funeral taking place in Liberton Kirk’s municipal cemetery. Everything was going to plan until Aunt Bella gave an eldritch shriek and threw herself into her husband’s open grave, trying to prise the lid of the coffin open with bloodied nails. The rest of us gawped and looked on, struggling to come to grips with this one and only show of the closest thing to affection that we’d witnessed in their twenty-five year stretch together. You could have called it a loveless marriage on a good day, but so far they’d never had one of those and now it was too late.
She scrabbled at the coffin lid leaving bloody smears on the polished wood, blonde hair escaping from its chignon and sticking to her blotched, mascara-stained face. The too short, too tight skirt she’d been wearing had rucked up in the fall and a hint of bright red underwear was all too visible against the black suit and rich brown of the freshly dug earth: a wound in tender flesh.
Uncle Monty started to scramble down after her but paused when she began writhing around and clutching her stomach, mouth open as though about to vomit. I wondered for an irrational moment if we were going to be treated to an Alien type scene culminating in Bella bursting open on the grave of her barely beloved.
But as always truth was stranger than fiction.
Two unfeasibly attractive young guys I’d never seen before leapt down into the grave and manhandled the lucky widow back out. They managed to prop her up against a gravestone all the while talking to her in low soothing tones while she nodded and sobbed. Looked like the wake wasn’t going to be as dull as I’d thought.
My mother gave me that look, rolling her eyes and twisting her face as she usually did when confronted with such attention-seeking behaviour.
So engrossed were we in this little family drama, that at first the muffled roars of rage from the coffin went unnoticed.
But then there was a loud snapping sound and the lid of the box sprang open…