“María, hija! How many times do I have to remind you that it is bad luck to open an umbrella indoors?”
María clutched tightly onto her umbrella. “But Mamá,” she pouted, “I can’t stand the rain anymore! Look at my clothes; they are all soaked through!” Her mother looked at the girl’s clothes; they were indeed soaking wet. Thankfully, her teenage daughter was wearing black, as the rest of them were, and the situation revealed nothing that should not be revealed.
“Just bear with it, hija,” she said, in her most consoling motherly voice. “The service will be over soon. And hide that thing, please; it is scandalous to the Lord.”
María took a deep breath and swallowed whatever protest she wanted to say. There was no sense in arguing with her mother. She slid her umbrella, a pink frilly classic parasol-type with a Tweety Bird design, into the space beneath the chair, hiding it behind her long black skirt, which was, like the rest of her clothes, heavily soaked.
She glanced left and right, and saw that everyone in the front row was just like her: wet, cold, and bearing the situation with much silent fortitude. How many of them were also, like her, tempted to open their umbrellas? If they were, they showed no sign of it; they probably even asked forgiveness from the Lord for entertaining such a sinful thought. María was the only young person in the front row; the rest of them were at least as middle-aged as her mother, and at least as devout. Rosaries around their necks, veils on their heads, prayer books in their hands. None of these old bags would sympathize with me, María ruefully thought.
Why did I have to be in the front row, anyway, when I could have been in the back, having fun with the rest of my friends? With Pedro and Lucía, Sandoval and Elisa? She quickly peeked towards the back; none of the other guests were wet. Many of them weren’t even paying attention. Some were sleeping, while others were playing with their gadgets.
It was obvious that no one really liked Tio Andrés. He was annoying, and brash, and noisy, and arrogant, and widely unpopular. The only reason people tolerated him was his money, and it seems, even now, in his funeral mass, it was the only reason people bothered to see him off.
I wouldn’t have bothered to come if Mamá hadn’t forced me. I hated Tio Andrés! He was an asshole! He often insulted me, called me fat and dumb and ugly. I’m glad he’s dead! Unfortunately for María, Tio Andrés was her mother’s half-brother, and so she, bound by filial obligation, was also dragged into this cold, wet mess. The only people who could marginally stand Tio Andrés were his family, all of them seated in the front row of his funeral mass, and it seems that, even in his death, it was also only his family that had the strength to bear the abysmal situation that was his final mass.
“Let us stand and profess our faith!”
At his saying of the word “faith,” the presiding priest, loudly lisping and lip-smacking as he had been since the beginning of the mass, let out his largest spray of spittle yet. Two of the old women in the front row, the mother and an aunt of the deceased, gasped and ducked, and then crossed themselves for their display of rudeness towards Christ’s ordained representative on earth.
As for María, she had had it. It was only halfway through the mass, and there was no way she was going to continue to bear the rain of saliva coming from this blubbering priest for the rest of the ceremony. Before her mother could protest, María took out her umbrella and opened it, and held it as a shield between her and the priest.
“May the good Lord forgive me; I cannot stand this rain anymore,” she said. Soon enough, the pretty pink umbrella and its Tweety Bird decal were covered in spittle.
The rest of the people in the front row stared at her and her umbrella in disbelief. Her mother felt like she would melt in embarrassment. Just as she was about to offer her apologies, she saw that the mother of the deceased took out her own umbrella and opened it, just as María had done. Next was the aunt, and another sister, and an uncle, and a son, and soon everyone in the front row had, taking from María’s lead, opened their umbrellas to shield themselves from the rest of the rain, as the audience in the back of the church laughed and cheered at the spectacle.
Meanwhile, the priest, clueless as ever, continued with the mass as though nothing had happened.