Two - First Loss
"She's around here somewhere, Paula."
"Where did that little brat get off to?"
"Leave that baby, alone, girl. She got a right to be a bit bratty today."
Karen sighed in contentment. She was tucked safely in the dusty corner of a closet of Doyle's Funeral Home. Of course she didn't know that - she was just five. All she knew was she was woken up early this morning, shoved into an itchy black dress and dragged along to a ceremony where Nana laid in a box and everybody cried.
"Dead", they called it. That's what her Nana was. She wasn't really sure what that meant, only that Nana was sleeping forever so she couldn't tuck her in anymore or play dolls with her or make sweet potato pies. Also, Karen and Charlie had to go live with somebody else.
No one had told her that last part until this morning. So Karen let go of Uncle Marcus's hand - which was easy to do, because he was talking a lot to his pretty girlfriend - and wandered away until she found somewhere to sit. She was tired and confused and sad but she didn't want to leave, even though she was certain a spider had just bit her.
The door flew open. "I told you! There she is!"
Strong hands picked her up and out of the funeral home . "Karen, you are not to run off like that again!" scolded her uncle. He was a big, tall man. She remembered being scared of him when she was little, but now she knew he was nice because he bought her and Charlie McDonald's all the time.
Outside, all of Karen's aunts and uncles and cousins were scattered around the lawn. Lots of them were leaving in their cars. Karen and Uncle Drew sat down on the porch.
"Uncle Drew, are me and Charlie gonna live with you and Aunt Miranda?" Karen asked.
"I don't know yet, Kare-Bear. I hope so," he said.
"Charlie would like that. She likes the swings. And she likes playing with Marta and Cara. Can we play with them today"
"Yes, you can" he smiled. "But no more drawing on the walls."
Karen spun in circles and whooped and hollered. "Yay! Let's get McDonald's!"
"Ok, ok, settle down," he laughed.
"Drew, what is this?" A tall dark-haired lady with sharp features came out. She was balancing Karen's sister, Charlie, on her hip. "This is a funeral. You have that girl hollering like a hooligan!"
"Miranda, please calm down," said Uncle Drew. He looked upset with his wife.
Karen stopped dancing around but couldn't wipe the smile from her face. It was a bad day because Nana was "dead" but now it was a good day because she could play with her cousins at Uncle Drew's house (which was much bigger than Nana's and had a playground)!
Aunt Miranda scowled. "Little demon," she muttered. "My mama's dead in the ground and here she is smiling."
Uncle Drew picked up Karen. "I don't want to hear another word of this," he told Aunt Miranda. To Karen he said, "Let's go get you your Happy Meal."
Aunt Miranda and Charlie followed them.