Julie sat, blank faced in silence, staring at the Japanese style crane wall papers. Behind her, the gathering meal was being served. The service staff was pushing the food carts. The sound of the wheels rolling across the wooden floor intersected with the footsteps of funeral guests.
“Jules…Jules…Julie” Megan called out and placed her hand on Julie’s bonny shoulder. She was startled and broke out a cold sweat. She instantly stood up and turned around. The crane wallpaper flew out of her vision and Megan’s sleep deprived face gradually came into focus.
“Oh M!” she slummed herself into Megan’s full busted chest. “I am so glad that you are here. Oh my God! I need you. I can’t believe Bella is gone.” She sobbed uncontrollably, vibrating through her skin and bone frame.
“I am sorry I missed the whole service. I got here as soon as I could. I think I am still in shock that she is gone.” Megan gently pressed Julie’s head on her shoulder and comforted her with gentle patting on her back.
They stayed standing until she stopped crying. Megan took her hand and walked towards the courtyard. “Tell me Jules, everything you know about what happened to Bella.”
They stood by the fence. Julie started chewing on her already bare nails. “Oh M, it’s a tragedy. I saw her last Sunday. We went to check out the new doggy grooming parlour in Westfield. And she missed the knitting class on Tuesday. I called and called.” Tears ran from her red swollen eyes.
“Johnny called me Wednesday morning and told me Bella is gone. She jumped the Gap Tuesday night and the police search team found her body down the cliff. M, she is gone, it’s too much for her. She couldn’t do it anymore.” She sobbed and hung onto Megan for comfort.
Megan was trying to absorb what Julie told her. In her mind, Bella’s bright smile and the images of her and her adorable companion dog were playing screen by screen. ‘Bella jumped the Gap’ was an unconceivable idea, let alone a piece of news that she was never prepared to receive. A surge of anger came up from her stomach to the throat. She let out a low grunt which was out of her cool calm and collected character.
“I need a stiff drink, Jules, would you care for one too?”
“I suppose it will do me good. Get me a White Russian please M.”
Megan left Julie and walked straight to the bar where the funeral guests huddled and chatted in low voices. Megan ordered two White Russians and waited at the far side of the bar where just behind the screen that shielded her from the rest of the crowd. She finally cupped her hands on her face and started to weep, then it turned into wailing. She felt a piece of her heart was stabbed and twisted by a serrated knife. She could barely breathe with nose all congested and head pounding.