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She carefully slips the dollar bill into his jacket pocket. The boring navy blue one that comes out only on special occasions.
His funeral ticks that box.
She is required to speak, but still hasn't come up with anything pithy to say, struggling with what is expected and what actually is.
For example, she can open with her resentment for thirty two years of monetary, intellectual and emotional stinginess.
Then, follow up with the many restrictions, deprivations and humiliations endured while living with a miserly miserable control freak.
She can close by apologizing for the unwarranted jealous and cruel thoughts directed towards all those who had dared to choose differently, leaving undesirable circumstances behind. Those that had been brave enough to imagine an alternative and better life for themselves while she had not.
She can do it. Empty herself. Reclaim herself.
No one present here today means anything to her, nor does she mean anything to them. They only know her as George's appendage. The rest of it, they had filled in according to their own wishes long ago and time had made it so.
Her children were not in attendance. They had made a run for it years ago; embarrassed by their asphyxiated mother, hating their oppressive father and not wanting any part of their futile world.
This impromptu exit stage left by hubby dearest has left her reeling in more ways than one; from her unpreparedness with regards to all legal, financial and administrative affairs, to not knowing what her next move will be now that her turn has finally come.
To be in mourning and distraught over the loss of all she holds dear is a ridiculous scene to play out. It doesn't represent her. Years of holding her tongue and doing only what is acceptable in a heavily traditional corner of the world is pressing down on her. Even today she is holding her breath, jumpy and alert, waiting for the hammer to drop.
She looks down at the form of her husband with whom she "shared" a bed, two kids, a life. And thinks, what a ridiculously unsuitable term, for the two of them, that was.
"Sharing" implies halves or at least 60/40. Not 70/30. Not 90/10.
No more "sharing". From now on minutes and chances would be greedily hoarded, necessary as it was to make up for lost time.
It is a new era for an old timer.
She pats his chest at the pocket containing the dollar bill, bends forward and whispers her final words to him. Those words it has taken her thirty two years to utter in a steady unflinching voice.
No tears. No anger. Nothing.
Then straight backed and determined she turns to face the crowd.