Benjamin's Wake - Part 2

Over the next hour, whilst the conversation turned from Mobaki to holidays, air conditioning and retail problems, Ginny found a position where she could torment herself by watching the long hand on the only clock in the room drag itself laboriously around a bejewelled face. She was about to make her excuses and go and wake Screwjo when Jasmine turned everyone else’s attention to the clock. 

“Good Intent!” Ginny suppressed a laugh at Jasmine’s easy adoption of the latest politically correct exclamation, stripped of blasphemy and religion. Her amusement was cut short though by something in Jasmine’s demeanour when she turned back to the group; there was no mistaking the cracks in the pristine façade this time. 

“I’m sorry” Jasmine’s voice, a little shriller, lacked the confidence of before. “It’s nearly time. I mean…” Tears, real tears, were pooling in her eyes, and she wiped at them hastily with the back of her hand. “The cemetrists will be here any moment.” She straightened herself and forced a smile. “You know, I’ve been quietly dreading this moment, but I guess the time has come to say goodbye to dear Benjamin.”

Feeling awkward but obliged as the nearest person, Ginny put a reassuring hand on Jasmine’s arms and was shocked when Jasmine responded by suddenly pulling her into an embrace. “Thank you”, she sobbed quietly into Ginny’s shoulder. “Thank you for coming. I didn’t think you would – after so long.” 
“It’s ok.” Ginny patted her old friend’s back awkwardly, unsure how to respond.

“Come on, we all know what we’re getting into.” It was starched Christine, of course that had spoken. “It’s the price we pay for love.”

The words, harsh and cold as they felt even to Ginny seemed to have the desired effect on Jasmine. She pulled herself free of Ginny’s arms and wiped her eyes again. “Of course, you’re absolutely right.” She pulled her face back into a smile. “Look at me – I must look such a state.”

She did a bit, thought Ginny without as much glee as she’d have expected had she anticipated this strange turn of events. 

Jasmine, the host, was speaking with some of her normal assurance. “Let’s get this horrible bit done shall we, and then we can get back to enjoying ourselves. Poor Benjamin wouldn’t have wanted to see me … any of us… miserable. He was so … kind.” Her lip wobbled slig...

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Rod Webb
Dec 12 2021

2
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