Twenty-three

There was a long silence, during which Molly couldn’t hear Lexi breathing.  She was using the cordless and had walked downstairs while talking, to check the doors and have a glass of wine.  She left the lights on behind her–Rich had always bitched about that, her turning on all the lights at night, but it was her house now, not his, and she left them on because she could.  Molly could picture Lexi lying on top of her covers, staring at the ceiling.  “I don’t remember his funeral,” she said.  “Ren’s.”  Silence again.  “I don’t remember it,” she said again.

Do you want me to tell you about it, sweetie?” Molly asked gently.

“I think so.”

“It was very beautiful, of course, for what it was.  And long.  Becka and Gil spared no expense, as usual.  There were close to two thousand people present for the service.  They even had it at St. Patrick’s on Fifth Avenue.  Cygnet and Katherine and I went with you.  Even Rich offered to come along, but I told him we’d be fine without an ex-husband in attendance.  Gil read, and then the bishop read, and then there was about an hour of personal recollections.  Ian got up and spoke, too.  And Danny actually tried to hit on me again. Well, to be specific, he flirted with my tits, but I assume he meant to speak to me as well.  Becka actually told him to come away from us, as if we were contagious.”

“Where was I?”

“Dead to the world.  You were a very somberly garbed zombie.  You didn’t speak–not counting talking in your sleep, which you did a lot of–from the day he died until a day after the funeral.  Do you remember?”

“No.”

Molly looked out her bedroom window, at her snowy backyard.  The shed and deck were hills of white, their contours completely obscured.  From here, it was gorgeous.  She didn’t like the cold, but it was hard not to feel at least a little bit powerful after a blizzard when your name was Snow.  She was glad she’d changed it back after the divorce.  To be honest, she’d never been happy taking Rich’s name.  Molly Fradette didn’t roll off the tongue at all.  She couldn’t see herself as a Fradette.  “You were almost catatonic.  Like a big doll.  We were very, very worried about you.  And you won’t be the least bit surprised to hear that the Packards treated you like shit.  We wound up sitting with their servants, you know.  That was as close to the family as we were allowed to get.  Cygnet was going to pick a fight about that, but I told her she’d just get arrested, and she backed down.  After the service there was a long procession out to the family graveyard on the estate, and that was that.  They were gracious enough to allow us little people onto the grounds for the graveside service, but we weren’t invited to the memorial dinner.  They actually had a security guard shadow us as we left.  Sorry if I sound bitter, but it was disgusting.”

“S’okay.  I don’t remember it at all, so you can feel bitter on my behalf.  I don’t mind.”  Lexi sighed.  “I suppose I’m not too sad I missed it, then.”

“And yet, you still sound disappointed.”

“I think I was hoping to feel as though a great weight were lifted, or some sense of closure or something.  Some sort of pap like that.”  She sighed again.  “But I don’t feel anything happening.  I’m still…just unhappy and incomplete and more than a little pissed off.  I think I need to go listen to Circle of Dust, or some old Metallica.”

“Whatever does it for you, Lexi.”

“I don’t know what does it for me any more.  I feel like I’m in an elevator, and I can feel it going up and down, stopping at the floors.  Sometimes I can even hear what’s going on out there.  But the doors never open.”

“Oh,  Lex,” she sighed.

“I started building a car for him.”

“For Ren?”

“Yes.”  Lexi’s voice took on a bit of its normal color.  “He needs something to drive in the next world, doesn’t he?”

“I don’t know if they have cars in heaven, Lex.”

“Well, if they don’t, then he wouldn’t have stayed there.  So it’s for wherever he relocated to.  And maybe making it will help me feel better.  It feels like it will.  Okay, it’s time to go.  I’m going to change moods again.”

“Are you signing off?”

“Yes.  I hate talking on the phone, it makes me lonely.  I’d rather be able to see what your hands are saying too.”

“Tell me how you’re feeling, before you go.”

“I’m about two-thirds,” Lexi said.  “You?”

“About the same,” Molly said.  Her mind was on the Polaroids in her hand, and on Ajax Jaxon’s number in her speed-dial.