Now that Dara has died, her parents have been scheming with how to remember her by. Invitations will be sent, my mom rumors as she cranes her neck by the screen window to get a better look of what Dara’s parents are planning. But I don’t believe her, or if I do, I don’t say I do. She’s lied more than enough times to me before.
I wait a few days. In the meantime, cars, little black cars, keep pulling up to Dara’s house. People get out, I assume, although I don’t see anyone standing around in their yard.
It turns out Mom is write. We got an envelope in the mail today. The envelope was a pretty robin’s egg blue. I didn’t read what was inside it. Mom did. She read it out loud.
“‘You are cordially invited to attend Dara Lancaster’s service,'” she read, “‘this Saturday at 1.'” Then my mom took a step back. “‘In our backyard. Bring up to two guests.'”
“I didn’t know they had a backyard,” I said.
Eyebrows knitted, my mom wondered aloud why anyone would hold a funeral in a backyard.
“It’s not a funeral,” I pointed out. “They didn’t say they were going to bury her, for crying out loud.”
Now we’re heading across the street. We haven’t brought any guests. We don’t have any friends. Mom says I am antisocial. Well. She is, too.
Dara’s service is short. Thank goodness.
Her father, his booted feet crunching on the gravel that spreads out along their backyard for as far as the eye could see, so that it’s not a yard at all, wipes away what I guess are tears from his eyes before reading from a piece of paper that they are going to put together a shrine of all of Dara’s “closest possessions.”
“So that wherever she is now,” he says, “she’ll be with what she loved most on Earth.”
My mom rolled her eyes at this. I told her that we should respect different beliefs. She asked since when did I become a prissy social justice warrior.
Dara’s mom and her two big brothers carried in a bucket load of items. Treasured items of the dearly departed, they’re called.
A ginormous pink plastic smartphone.
A not-so-big blue plastic bottle of some soda variety I’ve never heard of.
A watch. It came in two pieces because Dara had broken it. It has to be plastic, too.
A plastic bracelet, a plastic doll, a plastic DVD of an action movie called Run Faster, a pair of plastic earbuds, jet black.
“This is what she loved most,” her father says.
Me and Mom look on as Dara’s family tosses these items into a heap by a stunted pear tree trying to poke through the gravel. Then Dara’s dad hurries inside to get something; we know not what, as my mom would say in one of her lighter moods. This afternoon, though, she keeps whispering to me that this is the stupidest funeral she’s ever been to. She won’t ever learn.
Dara’s dad comes out with matches.
“We should go,” I say, tugging on my mom’s arm. “Like, now. Before we all–“
But her eyes are transfixed Dara’s father, who has since crouched down to the plastic pile and is fiddling around with the matchbox. “No,” my mom says. “Let’s wait . . . let’s see what happens. Oh, this could be so pretty. Now she’s going to always be with what she loved the most.”
She won’t ever learn.