Emotionally exhausted, Juniper collapses on her chaise and carefully removes her heels before relaxing.
She watches Bethany follow with her duffel bag. Bethany of course has an open door policy until she can vacate the property she and the deceased shared and get it sold. Bethany drops her duffel bag beside the davenport and eases down to take a seat herself. Her eyes remain bloodshot from crying and she moves as if entranced.
“Sweetie, why don’t you relax and I’ll draw you a bath. The spare room is all made up and you can lay down. I’ll wake you when dinner is ready.”
“Huh?” Bethany responds in a blank fugue.
“Oh, honey,” Juniper rises from the davenport and sits next to Bethany, embracing her. More tears resume their trail down her face. “How about you just lay down right here.” Juniper eases Bethany into a more comfortable position, removes her shoes and covers her with a blanket.
“Oh, Nip please add the young lady in the building to the list of those needing Thank You cards. The food was outstanding.” Bethany snuggles onto the davenport and closes her eyes.
Juniper returns to the chaise and watches as she quickly slips into slumber. Attendance was so sparse at the funeral that she couldn’t help but wonder if there had been some confusion about the date or time. Or was he an imbecile in more than just her eyes? Assisting Bethany with the arrangements because he was disconnected from his family was even more insulting - more difficult than she had let on. Bethany insisted on a traditional funeral. Juniper was more in favor of a cremation. Yes, it seems cruel and void of compassion to think of the deceased in this way. But how can she feel anything else for a man who repeatedly abused her friend? A party in memory of this momentous occasion would seem more appropriate to Juniper.
Apparently the kindergarten scribbles he was able to pass off as art sold enough to pay for burial insurance. Surprisingly though was that he had a life insurance policy. With the statements that were given to the police, the death was ruled as accidental suicide. Insurance remains obligated to make payment and Bethany is the sole beneficiary. Once she’s cognizant enough to discuss it, Juniper will definitely have a conversation with her to find out the amount and what her plans are for the money.
A knock at the door interrupts her train of thought.
“Just a moment!” Juniper scurries to the door to keep Beth from being aroused from her sleep. After a quick glance into the peephole she opens the door.
“Alesandra, please come in,” Juniper widens the door, inviting her in. “I have the check right over here.” Juniper retrieves her purse and begins rambling for her wallet. “The food was excellent. You are quite talented.”
“I hope it isn’t too much of an imposition to stop by, but I have class tonight and I thought it’d be rude to wait much later.” Alesandra is standing close to the door. Her eyes fall on Bethany, sleeping.
“No, now is good.” Juniper finally removes the check from her wallet and extends it to Alesandra, noticing that Alesandra is staring at Bethany.
“How has she been?” Alesandra accepts the check and awaits a response, not wanting to just accept payment and leave.
“As well as can be expected I guess, under the circumstances,” Juniper nods.
“Please give her my best. And if there’s anything I can do-“
“Thank you so much, Alesandra. Oh, and I’ll be calling on you again to do something for the next tenants meeting. So, keep an ear out.” They smile and nod at each other. Alesandra exits and Juniper quietly eases the door shut.