Act I, Scene XV
The party was horrible and, in that sense, completely as expected. Her parents had invited most of the neighbours, some of her mother’s art gallery friends, some people from her father’s work, and, of course, Ian’s parents. As by some cruel trick of of faith – or perhaps simply because in the last few years she had spent more time with them than with her own parents – their eyes almost immediately found her in the thick crowd and, before she had any chance to escape, made their way over to her. A blind panic coursed through her body, yet at the same time, she stood completely paralysed, waiting and staring as the couple approached her.
‘It is so good to see you,’ Carla said, wrapping her in that hug that had been so familiar for the last four years. Now, it felt like being hugged by a stranger. ‘How have you been, dear?’
‘I… I am good,’ she finally found her voice. ‘I have been staying over with a friend at Santa Barbara for the past few months.’
‘Your mother told us. We don't blame you for wanting to get away for a bit; Ian’s death has been hard on all of us. John and I had a short holiday ourselves after the cremation. Just needed to… have some time for ourselves to work through the grief.’ As she said the words, tears welled up in her eyes, and her husband quickly laid an arm around her shoulders. He was about to steer her away, when Carla latched onto her arm.
'You will come and visit us soon, won't you? I've been feeling so alone lately, it would be nice to have you around – like before. We can sort through some of his old things together.'
'Of course,' Anna managed to say, physically having to force the words over her lips. 'I'll call to plan a date.'
John excused them, and just like that she was all alone again. In a way, Anna was glad that at least this conversation was over. She had done it, exactly like she had written to Bill. It didn’t matter that all she wanted to do now was cry and scream at the unfairness of them also burdening her with their grief. It shouldn’t matter.
Grabbing a glass of champagne from the table, she swiftly made her way back into the house.