Verena debated about putting on lipstick, but settled for gloss instead. Lipstick was too much of a pain. She'd lick them to death if she didn't put something on them, though.

She didn't want to wear black to this thing. Black made her look like an albino. But she had to. Her family took a dim view of those who went to funerals in "off-black" colours. Not even navy blue or dark purple or anything. At least she didn't have to wear a stupid veil. It wasn't like she was going to cry or anything.

Ziona would have a veil. She wouldn't want anybody to tell whether she was crying or not. Bernie was her husband, and she would be expected to cry at his funeral. Verena would bet money that her sister's face would stay completely dry this afternoon.

Thank god she didn't have to wear heels, at least. Her mother would wear heels, and so would Ziona. But these days you could get away with flats.

She'd always wondered what Bernie saw in Ziona. He probably didn't see in her--that was the whole problem. He saw the carefully prepared facade, like everyone else did. The plastic smile, the perfect makeup, the fashionable clothes, and her perfectly coiffed hair. But most of all the shallow personality.

Verena had never been fooled by her sister. She'd always known how selfish Ziona was. Ziona wanted all their parents' attention, and she got it. Verena didn't want it anyway. Ziona had wanted all the boys, and she'd got them. Especially the ones Verena had been interested in. Well, Verena didn't like boys that much anyway.

Verena had been the one who introduced Bernie to Ziona. She thought Bernie was safe. Ziona's boyfriends were always the popular ones, the jocks, the hunks. Bernie was none of those. He was intelligent and kind, and considerate and sensitive. Something none of Verena's family were.

But Ziona had stolen him away, too.

So Verena made sure she displayed her contempt for her sister's taste at every opportunity. Lord knows Ziona had returned the favour often enough.

She finally went downstairs, where Ziona and her mother were waiting. They didn't speak. Verena went outside and got into her car. Ziona and her mother got into the back seat. They were both wearing veils, so how could they drive? Besides, she wasn't sure her mother had ever learned.

The funeral chapel was only four blocks away. They could've walked, and Verena would've gladly. But her mother would say that was undignified, for the family of the deceased to walk four blocks from their house to the funeral chapel. Verena wondered how she'd been getting around since her husband died.

There was a soft murmur as the family came into the chapel. Some places, they had a special booth where the family sat, hidden from the rest of the chapel. But Ziona wouldn't have any such thing. She wanted them all to see her, the nobly grieving widow, no tears under her veil. She was probably looking for her next husband, if she didn't already have him picked out.

Ziona sat in the front pew and Verena and her mother sat behind. Ziona had wanted an entire pew to herself, too. Well, Bernie's mourners didn't exactly fill the church to bursting, so she got her way. Verena could barely see the coffin for the flower arrangements. Not that she particularly wanted to see the coffin, mind you.

Reverend Noiret started the service. Verena barely listened to it. She was crying. Dammit, why was she crying? It was her sister's husband who was dead. Ziona was the one who should be crying.

Based on the words: Chapstick Tulip Albino Mass

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The Den of Ubiquity/ Aaron V. Humphrey /