We didn’t leave right away. I pulled myself together and washed my face again and we stayed until Landon had fallen asleep on the couch. He was completely worn out and so was I, but for different reasons. Janine tried to wake him up and it didn’t work, and Remo ended up carrying him upstairs for her. Claire went up to bed, too, but then I heard her call my name, asking me to bring her a glass of water.
I brought it to her room and set it on the side table. Right next to the glass I’d left her the night before, which was still mostly full. I didn’t mention this of course.
“Can you believe that woman?” she said in a half-whisper. She was sitting on the edge of her bed in her bathrobe and slippers. “Showing up here like that? With their love child?”
I don’t think there was a lot of emotion in my voice when I said, “That love child is my godson and you know they got married, right?”
She clucked her tongue. “You know what I mean. The nerve.”
“She’s worried you’re going to steal her man. Seems perfectly reasonable to do whatever she can to prevent that?”
“Oh, like I was going to work some magic on him today? She has nothing to worry about.”
“Yes, but she doesn’t know that. Are you telling me you wouldn’t have done the same?”
“Run off on Christmas Day? Probably left her own parents behind, worrying sick about her.”
“Maybe she wanted an excuse to get away from her parents. Some people will take any excuse for that.”
Claire looked at me rather put out that I would come right out and say such a thing. It was dangerously close to me admitting I had actively avoided being in touch with her for, oh, my entire adult life. Which granted was only like five years, but still.
She decided a death glare wasn’t enough. “That wasn’t a very nice thing to say.”
“It was the truth and I don’t apologize for the truth anymore. I only apologize for lies.”
She frowned but couldn’t come up with a way to knock me off that high horse, I guess. “Hmph.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Oh, you’re not running off to a funeral? I thought for sure you’d be abandoning me for your junkie friend.”
She was baiting me and I was too raw not to fall for it. “He wasn’t a junkie. He was one of the most respected and well-liked producers in the industry. I don’t know if there is going to be a funeral or what.” Jordan was single. As far as I knew he had no family. I wondered if he even had a will. “I assume there will be some kind of memorial service and yeah, I’ll have to go to it.”
“It’s not like your friend will know whether you showed up or not.” She wrung her hands. “I need you here to help me deal with your sisters.”
“My sisters can deal with each other just fine. You know, funerals aren’t for the person who died. They’re for the people who are left. Are you telling me you won’t care how your funeral goes because you’ll already be gone?”
“Wretched child. Saying such things!” She stood up, then sat back down. “I suppose you have a point, though. About funerals. I want you to speak at mine, you know.”
As usual, she had changed emotional states five times in the course of that one statement and left my head spinning. “You what?”
“I want you to speak at my funeral. You will, won’t you? Even though I won’t be around to hear it?”
“Um, sure. Assuming there’s nothing preventing me.”
“What will you say?”
“Jeezus, Claire, you want me to come up with something right now?”
“I’m curious. If I were the one who keeled over today, what would you be thinking you’d say?”
My mouth hung open. What the hell would I say? Thanks for birthing me, I’m glad to be alive? I mean, I was, even if it wasn’t obvious at that moment. She was a woman of many talents… none of which were realized in her lifetime? You can’t really say something like that.
It dawned on me that I was going to have to come up with an answer to this question eventually. “I’d talk it over with Ziggy. He always knows what to say.”
“You said you only tell the truth, though. So I’m curious.”
Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. “I’m curious what you want me to say.”
“Ha.” She cracked a small smile. “If I told you, would you say it?”
“Maybe? Since you won’t be around to check on me.”
“Wretched, incorrigible child.” She said it like an endearment and I kind of think she meant it as one, but you know, it was hard to tell. She kicked her slippers off and pulled back her bedcovers. “I thought I’d make it easy on you since you’re having so much trouble thinking of something.”
“I’m trying to think of something that would reflect well on you and not hurt too much to say.” I helped her out of her robe and draped it over the chair.
“You think you’ll be hurt?”
It finally got through to me that she felt she was competing with a dead man for my grief, or something like that. “Of course I will.”
That seemed to satisfy her and she got in bed.