**An impromptu short story I put together today**
Gina’s last wish was to be at her grandmother’s dust-riddled apartment a full hour away from work. Her boss had okayed her absence under these circumstances, but she knew he had to say that and most likely did not mean it. After only being there for three months, she’d figured out that Jim Michaels was a complete asshole but was probably her best bet at having a shot at a real publisher.
It’s not that Gina and her grandmother fought or had some sort of long-standing feud. Nor did she have any disdain for either of her parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, or uncles. She just simply hated funerals. Her abhorrence of the traditional, and at times quite ceremonial, send off into the ground, was for Gina a collosal waste of time, money, and energy. Of course, she knew she could not share these ideas with anyone–especially today, since it was going to be the last time anyone ever saw her grandmother’s actual face.
“When you’re dead, you’re dead,” she’d argued to a friend once over coffee. “Do me a favor, Jeanette. Don’t even tell my parents I’m dead when I’m gone. It’ll totally fuck up their plans.”
Rightfully so, this bothered Gina’s friend. However, it had bothered her so much that Jeanette contacted a therapist without Gina’s knowledge or consent. When the initial appointment time came, Gina was willing to talk to the guy but assured her longtime friend that she was only going because it meant something to Jeanette. It was the only session.
After her grandmother’s small funeral, there was a smaller reception and some friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend had catered in some coffeecake and chicken salad sandwiches, apparently two of Grandma Lola’s favorites.
“Gina, do you have to head back tonight?” her mother asked without looking at her. The sandwiches were gone, and a pitiful amount of crumbs covered the bottom of the second of two cakepans.
“Mom, I told you earlier,” she said. “Dad?” It was evident that her impatience with her mother would not be put on hold during this somber late afternoon.
Her dad cleared his throat. “We just thought, hon, that you could come to the house. We…have something to discuss.”
Gina’s eyes scanned the room. Her brothers and cousins were watching an evidently amusing video on one of their phones. Kade, the oldest of the cousins, spat out brown crumbs at the climactic moment.
“Can’t you just tell me here? I really can’t risk oversleeping and being late.”
Her parents peered into each others’ eyes. It wasn’t an amorous glare, though. Gina wondered if they had ever looked at each other the way they do in movies in theaters and the ones in her head when she reads.
The question remained unanswered and was interrupted by a slow series of family departures. Everyone bid everyone else well. The male cousins shared bizarre streetgang handshakes; the girls pecked each others’ cheeks–both were recurring actions that Gina could not comprehend but simply, shyly shrugged off this time.
“Gina,” her mother said as she swept away the crumbs from a central table into one of the two pans. “My mother had a will. Everyone is meeting tomorrow to discuss it before we go to lunch.”
“Mom, I just can’t…”
Her mother held up a hand. “I know. I understand. Duty calls.” She sighed and straightened the area where an apron would be if she’d had one on.
Without Gina realizing it, the room had emptied and Gina suddenly felt like she was in the principal’s office.
“I spoke with the attorney who handles…these things.”
Her mother bit her lower lip. “Yes.” She softened, realizing perhaps that she didn’t need to sugarcoat mortality with her grown daughter.
Gina watched her mother’s eyes drift to the side. “My mom was…all my life, she was pretty much an open book. What is it?” she sort of laughed. “She wore her heart on her sleeve?”
“Guess so. She didn’t really mix feelings, did she?”
“No, we girls always knew immediately when she was mad at one or all of us.” She bit that lip again and examined the tiled floor.
“The woman worked harder after Grandpa got sick than she or anyone else I’ve known has their entire lives.”
“I know what you mean,” Gina said. “Feels like we saw her less and less when I was in high school.”
“Well,” her mom said. “She sure was tricky about everything.”
“What do you mean?”
That small laugh again. “It turns out that…well, you know how she used to tell you stories when you slept over at her house?”
“Do you remember what you talked about after the stories?”
“Well,” Gina said. “I remember she always wanted me to have some…plan. You know? Where am I going to school? When or if I want to marry, travel the world, have kids…that type of stuff?”
“Do you remember any of your answers?”
“Mom, that had to be…” she quickly calulated…over twenty years ago. Even if I could remember it obviously hasn’t come true.” Her eyes went downward. “Kids’ dreams never come true.”
Gina’s eyes were back up and say an old brown leather woman’s pocketbook.
“It was hers. Her attorney says this is what she’s left you.”
“Gee,” she said, biting her lower lip. “I’m so…moved.”
Her mother began to say one thing but switched gears. “Trust me. I’ll be there’s a reason.”
She unsnapped the lone button and withdrew a plane ticket and a handwritten note, signed by the deceased.
“What’s it say?” her mother asked.
“‘Darling Gina,’” she read. “She hasn’t called me that in years, Mom.”
Her eyes watered. “I know.”
“‘I’ll make this quick because I don’t like to waste time. I’ve left each of you children $25,000 from…well, let’s just say some money I earned over my life. You are hereby ordered to quit that job you told me about a month or so ago and get to Europe. I don’t care how long you stay or if you even come back. The world is too big to stay in one place though.’”
“Well, Gina? Surprised?”
“Nothing that woman surpises me anymore.”