STORY OF THE WEEK

Who’s Missing from Aunt Deb’s Wake

Tess Lydon

Evan: What are you doing out here?

Mar: It’s raining.

Evan: Come inside.

Mar: It seems almost a little too on the nose if you ask me. Rain on  the day of a wake. The universe is pathetic.

Evan: Mar, please come inside.

Mar: Forecast says it should rain harder on the day of the funeral. It’s like the universe couldn’t resist the cliche.

Evan: Everyone’s looking for you.

Mar: Then tell them to come onto the front porch.

Evan: Now is not the time to stage a protest, Mar. It’s a wake.

Mar: Oh, so now I’m being selfish?

Evan: I didn’t say that—

Mar: She outs me in the middle of Thanksgiving, and I’m the selfish  one.

Evan: You know, Uncle Matthew really wants to talk to you—

Mar: She tells me, ‘No offense, but I’d rather not endorse that kind of lifestyle’. She actually said that, no offense. I’m surprised she didn’t say I was going to hell.

Evan: Mar.

Mar: You heard what she said.

Evan: I did. And I don’t think it was right, but you’re her family. We both are. And— 

Mar: ‘This is just what we have to do’? … I don’t owe her anything, Evan. And neither do you.

Evan: Everyone else is inside. They want to see you.

Mar: How can you stand there and do this?

Evan: There’s a cheese-and-crackers platter inside. Dad made sure to  get Brie.

Mar: She didn’t treat you much better.

Evan: Plenty of carbs to gorge on.

Mar: All those side comments about basketball and your birth parents. How many times did she call you urban?

Evan: It isn’t about me, Mar.

Mar: Maybe it should be.

Evan: No, it shouldn’t. It’s her— …God, you know what, if you want to  make a scene and sit outside with your blanket and your hurt feelings, go ahead. I’m going to go inside and be a good host so Mom has time to go off and cry.

Mar: I’m not making a scene. I’m being true to my feelings.

Evan: Call it whatever you want.

Mar: Hey! Come back here!

Evan: What?

Mar: This isn’t easy for me.

Evan: No, you’re making that very clear to everyone.

Mar: What is that supposed to mean?

Evan: You’re sitting on the front porch. Everyone has to walk past you in order to get inside.

Mar: Well I’m sorry I’m not a carpenter. I can’t exactly build myself a back porch to sit on.

Evan: If you don’t want to be here, why don’t you just leave?

Mar: I’m staying upstairs in Jimmy’s old room.

Evan: Fine. Upstairs then.

Mar: I tried to stay in my room. But apparently it’s a closet now, filled with the ghost of New Years Past, yoga mats, a stationary bike, and exercise galore—

Evan: Why don’t you just stay upstairs then?

Mar: Upstairs doesn’t have a bathroom.

Evan: So?

Mar: So eventually I’d have to go downstairs to pee and then someone would see me and then Great Aunt Katie-Marie would ask me a question and I’d have to answer her because she’s got that iron grip and then she’d lead me to Uncle John whol would then talk to me for forty minutes without pause and then I’d have effectively joined the wake.

Evan: So how exactly is the porch a better plan?

Mar: What?

Evan: You do realize, Mar, the porch doesn’t have a bathroom either.

Mar: …You know what—

Evan: Seriously, what was your plan? Pee in the bushes? I thought girls couldn’t do that.

Mar: If you’re just going to mock me, I’m going to stop talking to you. Forever.

Evan: Pinky swear?

Mar: Fuck you.

Evan: Just face it, you wanted people to see you purposefully not attending the wake.

Mar: I seriously hate you.

Evan: You wanted the attention.

Mar: You are the worst brother—

Evan: You wanted to make a statement.

Mar: Gee now I really want t—

Evan: You wanted to stage a protest.

Mar: And so what if did? So what if I do? … I’m angry, Evan. I’m still so angry at her.

Evan: …

Mar: And what am I supposed to do with all that anger now? I’m just supposed to forget it all happened?

Evan: No one is saying that.

Mar: I can’t yell at her. I can’t shove my beautiful girlfriend in her face. I can’t do anything.

Evan: I think that’s the point, Mar.

Mar: What are you talking about?

Evan: Scooch over.

Mar: Why?

Evan: Relax. I’m not going to steal your blanket. Just listen.

Mar: Fine. Don’t swing us too far either.

Evan: Okay, fine.

Mar: …

Evan: Look, Aunt Deb wasn’t the best person. We both know that. For  one thing, she gave the worst Christmas presents. I swear she  gave me a basketball like five times.

Mar: Oh I’d say at least eight.

Evan: I kept hoping that eventually she’d upgrade to Jordans. I mean,  white people know about Michael Jordan. He’s like the only  basketball player they’re guaranteed to know.

Mar: I think we at least know LeBron by now.

Evan: You think Uncle Matthew knows who LeBron is?

Mar: Well if we’re going by Uncle Matthew standards then we’re hopeless.

Evan: And her cooking wasn’t great.

Mar: Oh my god. Do you remember those eggs?

Evan: You can’t talk. I actually ate the turkey she cooked for Thanksgiving.

Mar: And how many times did I tell you not to eat it?

Evan: She put me right next to her. What was I supposed to do?

Mar: Switch the name settings.

Evan: Point being, she had her faults, her … blind spots—

Mar: ‘Blind spots?’

Evan: Her opinions—

Mar: Her prejudices—

Evan: She had her beliefs. Some of which were stuck back in 1953. But she was our aunt, is our aunt.

Mar: So what?

Evan: Mar—

Mar: No, I’m serious. Everyone says that, but it doesn’t mean  anything.

Evan: Of course it—

Mar: What about your family then, your birth family? You don’t  seem to think that their blood in your veins means anything.

Evan: Okay, first of all, that’s not true—

Mar: Why don’t you go find them then?

Evan: What?

Mar: You’re their family and that ‘means something.’

Evan: Aunt Deb didn’t have a family. She never got married. We are  what she has.

Mar: But you don’t go looking for them.

Evan: Look—

Mar: Because you know, just like I do, that some shared DNA is a  crappy excuse for letting someone into your life who has told  you to your face they hope you never love anyone.

Evan: …

Mar: …

Evan: I know it was misplaced, but she genuinely thought she was  making it better.

Mar: By suggesting I should die alone and unhappy just like her?

Evan: She never said unhappy—

Mar: No, she just said she’d only feel comfortable around me if I died  a virgin.

Evan: You know that’s not what she meant—

Mar: I can’t believe you’re defending her!

Evan:  I’m not defending her! I’m communicating her perspective.

Mar: Call it whatever you want.

Evan: Will you just listen to me?

Mar: Why?

Evan: Because she’s not here!… Because, like you said, she’s not here  and there’s nothing you can do anymore to set fire to your  relationship or water it down.

Mar: …

Evan: So I don’t see that there’s any point for you to hang onto this.

Mar: You wouldn’t.

Evan: Excuse me?

Mar: You’re Evan. You don’t hang onto things.

Evan: Right, and you’re Mar who would hold a grudge against the  entire universe if it would make her right.

Mar: I do have a grudge against the universe.

Evan: I was making a joke, Mar.

Mar: I’m not. It took her away.

Evan: …

Mar: And left me with this mess.

Evan: …

Mar: This confusing, irritating, depressing, angering, mess of  feelings.

Evan: …

Mar: …

Evan: Come inside, Mar.

Mar: She wouldn’t have wanted me in there.

Evan: You think Aunt Deb would’ve turned anyone away at her wake?  I’m surprised her will doesn’t stipulate that a 100 people must  be in attendance.

Mar: …

Evan: You’re already wearing the black.

Mar: Half my wardrobe is black.

Evan: Come inside.

Mar: To be the elephant in the room?

Evan: Oh come on, you’re not fat.

Mar: So everyone can whisper and stare at me? And see how I’ve  given up?

Evan: And what exactly would you be giving up by grieving someone  who helped raise you?

Mar: My principles, my dignity.

Evan: Don’t be so melodramatic.

Mar: Don’t be so dismissive.

Evan: You’re not going to fix any of that stuff by sitting here.

Mar: Maybe it’s not about fixing it. Maybe it’s about acknowledging  that it’s a part of it too.

Evan: …

Mar: I can’t go in there and play the part of de facto daughter. Oh,  you remember how she got you all those American Girl dolls  when you were little? Oh, she told me you’re becoming a  lawyer too. She’d be so proud. Oh, she loved you so much, Mar,  you know that. I won’t do it, Evan.

Evan: Is any of that a lie though?

Mar: No, but—

Evan: But you’d rather dismiss everything good—

Mar: But I’d rather acknowledge that she wasn’t the perfect human  being that everybody suddenly becomes once they die.

Evan: A eulogy is not a complex character analysis.

Mar: Well, maybe it should be.

Evan: Maybe.

Mar: …

Evan: …

Mar: You should go inside, Evan. Give Mom a break.

Evan: Seems like you’re the one who needs the break. It’s hard work,  resenting someone.

Mar: Already lost two pounds.

Evan: Is that true?

Mar: …

Evan: I don’t think the LGBTQ police would blame you if you wanted  to get some cheese.

Mar: …

Evan: Or if you wanted to remember some of the good parts.

Mar: Evan…

Evan: I already have a foolproof Great Aunt Katie-Marie distraction.

Mar: I don’t know.

Evan: You could make a run for the bathroom. That way you’d never  have to leave— much better than the porch plan.

Mar: …

Evan: Cousin Ollie’s here. Back from Ecuador.

Mar: …

Evan: No one’s asking you not to be angry. We’re just asking you to  be sad with us too.

Mar: …

Evan: …

Mar: …

Evan: …

Mar: There better be some Brie left.

Evan: …

Mar: …

Evan: Your dress is nice.

Mar: Isn’t that your tie from ninth grade band?

Evan: I’m just glad it still fits.

Mar: Ha ha.

Evan: …

Mar: …

Evan: Hey, look.

Mar: What? Evan: It’s stopped raining.