Cathy wondered about her own funeral, tested it like pushing on a bruise. Maybe she would have a band. Not polka, maybe a marching band. Souza and circumstance. Paul didn't want to think about it, he thought she was just running. He didn't understand how much Marlene had given his wife. He didn't understand that Cathy never saw options --that if she looked at them all, she'd be paralyzed -- so he thought the option she was learning was death. It was the act of choice itself. Pulling the trigger.
Paul and Cathy, after the service, eschewed the scratch-offs. Paul because it was inappropriate; Cathy because it wouldn't help. But when an old woman threw her ticket in the air, she was happy for her. She was able to be happy for her. Adam sat far away, texting with Mia, feeling nothing; it made Cathy afraid and a little hurt. She'd thought he loved Marlene as much as she did. But there he sat, unwilling to talk, insensate to the mourners. He had no questions and no remembrances. She prepared herself to worry at him until he exploded and knew it would probably do no good, but she gave him permission to go to the movies later with Mia. And when he asked her for twenty bucks, she stared at him and he left. Perhaps to find a scratch-off.
Sean was a mess, at the funeral, in a borrowed suit jacket and a semi-clean white v-neck, repeating a mantra again and again. Don't like death don't like death thinking good thoughts thinking good thoughts, he repeated. And Cathy knew he wasn't pretending. She saw him fall to it, on the banks of the Mississippi. "I know you hate this. Marlene tried to make it nice..." she said, but he was too far inside.
"Yeah, I should never have come. My palms are sweaty, my chest is compressed. And it feels like a spirit keeps running its hands through my hair." Cathy thought it was bad, but not as bad as Adam's complete shutdown. "Marlene pulled a gun on him, and then shot herself," she reminded her brother, but Sean said it would be fine. She knew how her son worked. It would take a while.
When Rebecca appeared, Sean's shivering redoubled and he hid behind a tombstone. The last time he saw her, she'd called him a cunt and thrown a coffee mug at his head with a terrible cry. "If she murders me, you throw me on top of Marlene. We're running out of room to put people." Everywhere the people were scratching off their lottery tickets, shouting with delight. Little moments of joy, over the polka music, and tomorrow was the last day of summer.