Isn't she doing this too? Connecting and disconnecting. Facing grief then turning from it. One minute she is caught up in minutiae. Will her feet get sore standing in heels at the church? Have they made enough food? Will the kitten get scared by dozens of strangers in the house? Should she shut him in a room upstairs? The next moment she is weeping uncontrollably, taken over by pain so profound she can barely move. Then there was the salad bowl incident; her own fury scared her. But maybe these are different ways of dealing with events for all of them. Molly and Luke are infantile echos of her, their emotions paired down, their reactions simpler but similar. For if they have difficulty taking in what has happened, then so too does she. Why is she dressing up, for instance? Why can't she wear clothes to reflect the fact that she is at her lowest end? A tracksuit, a jumper full of holes, dirty jeans? Why can't she leave her hair a mess, her face unmade up? The crazed and grieving Karen doesn't care about her appearance. Yet she must go through with this charade, polish herself and her children to perfection. She, in particular, must hold it together. Oh, she can cry, yes, that's allowed. People expect that. They will sympathize. But what about screaming, howling and hurling plates like she did yesterday? She imagines the shocked faces as she shouts and swears and smashes everything. But she is so angry, surely others must feel the same. Maybe a plate throwing ceremony would be a more fitting ritual than church, then everyone could have a go...smashing crockery up against the back garden wall.
Sarah Rayner
Rylan! Melanie squeals, high-pitched enough to break glass. I, so sorry I haven't talked to you all night. Being a hostess is hard work. She dramatically wipes imaginary sweat off her forehead. Anyway, I finally have some free time. So why don't we go dance, hmm?Gripping my waist a little too tightly for my taste, she tries to pull me back to the house. I stand strong., jerking Melanie back when I don't move.No thanks, Melanie. My free arm tightens around Ivy's waist. I already am dancing with someone.Melanie's sight flickers to Ivy and for a moment contempt skews her big grin. But it's gone in an instant as Melanie stretches her fake smile to the point she's showing gums and asks, through gritted teeth, Hi. What's your name?Ivy can tell there's something off with the girl in front of her, but she still gives her a polite greeting. Hello. My name is Ivy. How do you do?Melanie completely ignores the question and turns back to me. You never told me you invited someone else, Rylan. Melanie's smile goes harsh. I am sorry, but unless I give the okay, no one outside of school is invited. She glares at Ivy. I'll have to ask you to leave.Ivy tilts her head, befuddled at the sudden hostility. You want me to go?Melanie rolls her eyes. Uh, yeah. I just said that.Ivy stares down at her feet, ashamed and no doubt guilty for the wrong reason. She nods. Okay.She begins to leave but I grab her wrist and pull her back against me. I glare at Melanie. What if I don't want her to go? I growl.Yeah, Melanie!To my relief, I see Aidan and Nadia wiggle through the crowd. Neither of them look very happy; Nadia's downright fuming. Despite the whole my liking Ivy case, she's still there for me.Don't go telling people they can't be here, Nadia growls, her eyes flashing dangerously. Who died and made you think you can boss everyone around?Last time I checked, this is my party and therefore I choose who I invite or not, declares Melanie with an obvious edge in her voice.That's no excuse! The only reason you want her gone is so you can make Rylan your new boy toy, which he doesn't want!Oh, like you know him so well?I am his best friend, bitch! Excuse me!?ENOUGH!With one word, I bring the argument to an end and all attention back on me.Nadia's right, I state, glowering at Melanie. Nadia's always been right. You know one of the reasons I came, other than to show Ivy a good time? It was to tell you to leave me alone, okay? I. Don't. Like. You. So leave me alone!It was like I announced I farted. Everyone starts whispering with disbelief. No one has ever turned down the advances of Melanie Sweet—until now. It's turning into a night of first for them.Melanie obviously isn't used to this, as her face reddens like a tomato, her beautifully manicured hands clench into fists and her usually angelic face morphs into a full-blown snarl.How sweet.
Colleen Boyd