It all sounded like such a brilliant plan. It
“Lara.” Uncle Bill lifts a hand to stop me. “What would you say if I put you in touch with my head of recruitment and told her: ‘This is my niece, give her a chance?’”
I feel an explosion of delight. I want to sing “Hallelujah.” My gamble paid off!
“I’d say thank you very much, Uncle Bill!” I manage, trying to stay calm. “I’d do the best job I could, I’d work 24/7, I’d be so grateful-”
“No,” he interrupts. “You wouldn’t. You wouldn’t respect yourself.”
“Wh-what?” I stop in confusion.
“I’m saying no.” He shoots me a dazzling white smile. “I’m doing you a favor, Lara. If you make it on your own, you’ll feel so much better. You’ll feel you’ve
“These are your two little coins.” He gives me a deep, earnest look, the same way he does on the TV ad. “Lara, close your eyes. Feel it. Believe it. Say, ‘This is my beginning.’”
“This is my beginning,” I mumble, cringing all over. “Thanks.”
Uncle Bill nods, then turns back to the phone. “Paulo. Sorry about that.”
Hot with embarrassment, I edge away. So much for grabbing opportunities. So much for contacts. I just want to get through this stupid funeral and go home.
I head around the building and through the front glass doors of the funeral center to find myself in a foyer with upholstered chairs and posters of doves and a subdued air. There’s no one about, not even at the reception desk.
Suddenly I hear singing coming from behind a pale wood door. Shit. It’s started. I’m missing it. I hurriedly push the door open-and, sure enough, there are rows of benches filled with people. The room is so crowded that, as I edge in, the people standing at the back have to jostle to one side, and I find myself a space as unobtrusively as possible.
As I look around, trying to spot Mum and Dad, I’m overwhelmed by the sheer number of people here. And the flowers. All down the sides of the room there are gorgeous arrangements in shades of white and cream. A woman at the front is singing
I didn’t even send any flowers, I realize in sudden mortification. Should I have written a card or something? God, I hope Mum and Dad sorted it all out.
The music is so lovely and the atmosphere is so emotional that suddenly I can’t help it, I feel my eyes pricking too. Next to me is an old lady in a black velvet hat, who notices and clicks her tongue sympathetically.
“Do you have a handkerchief, dear?” she whispers.