The family stood by the graveside each trying to cope with grief in their own way. Christine was inconsolable, Jenny was misty eyed but managed to keep the tears in check. Daniel was clearly concerned but remained composed, while Kevin showed his usual disinterest in such matters, but his mother mistook this for stoicism.
Maude was laid to rest next to Bert who had succumbed to cancer one year earlier. At the conclusion of the burial, attended only by the immediate family, they returned to the house. Christine offered to make tea and Jenny said “I think we all need a little pick-me-up after that.”
“Good idea Jen.” said Daniel “I’ll get the glasses and a special bottle of red.”
“Actually, I was thinking of my cheesecake, Daniel.”
“OK love, whatever you think is best.” replied a disappointed Daniel.
Kevin had occupied himself in his spare time, the previous week by completing his miniature Swan Lake stage set. He was so pleased with the result that he was planning to include it in his next channel recording when he demonstrated his ballet positions.
He had included a lake with swans floating on the surface, and the background was a dense forest with a castle visible on the mountain behind. This scene was easily converted into the ballroom set with the lake outside. This was the first time he had included lighting on his sets. He found a very old string of Christmas tree lights in the garage. They were no longer used to decorate the family Christmas tree as his father considered them too dangerous because they operated on full voltage, not the low voltage style that is now commonly in use. But the full voltage was an advantage to Kevin because they gave a brighter light to illuminate his very colourful ballroom scene. He had rearranged the bulbs so that the blue lights were outside and created a moonlight scene. The green lights reflected off the lake and the red and white bulbs illuminated his ballroom.
Kevin set up his laptop to record his performance, turned on the stage lighting so his set could be seen in the background, and changed into his ballet tights. He could not find his protector and assumed his mother still had it in the laundry, so he went au naturel for this demonstration. When all was ready he started the camera, pressed play on the music and commenced his performance with a pirouette as an opening move. Coming out of his spin he smiled at the camera, introduced himself and announced what he would be showing. He then stepped aside to show his miniature stage set. To his surprise he found Christine’s cat drinking from his stage lake. This was clearly not part of his planned performance so he yelled and clapped his hands loudly. The cat jumped in surprise, became entangled in the string of lights and crashed into the lake. Suddenly Kevin’s room was plunged into darkness, only the glow of the laptop screen was lighting the room as it had switched to battery when the mains power failed. But it did provide enough light for Kevin to see what had happened to spoil his performance. Kevin then heard everyone else in the house stumbling around in the dark looking for each other and his father calling out “Don’t worry folks, it’s probably just a fuse, I’ll check it.”
Then Kevin looked again at his stage set with a very wet, very still cat and a little mist rising from its body. He instinctively yelled “Maude get out of there.” But Maude did not move even a whisker. As the light came back on he could hear someone approaching his door, so he threw a blanket over the set and just managed to get back to his bed as the door burst open and his mother entered asking “Are you alright Kevin?”
“Y.. yes.” he stammered “What happened?”
“It’s alright now, just a fuse tripped, your father’s fixed it.”
“That’s g.. good Mum.”
“Are you sure you’re OK, you seem a bit upset?”
“Oh it was just a shock that’s all. I was demonstrating a few ballet positions and recording for my YouTube channel when the lights went out.”
“Oh, I can see myself on the screen; looks like your computer’s still recording.”
“Christine poured the tea, Jenny cut the cheesecake and Daniel passed around the plates. Only Kevin remained still and quiet. Then Daniel raised his cup and said “This must be the first time I have proposed a toast with a cup of tea, but here goes. To Maude, an affectionate cat beloved by most of the family.” and looking sideways at Kevin “now resting next to our much loved, Bert the Boxer.”
A guilty Kevin asked his father “Why look at me like that?”
“It’s well known that you didn’t like Maude.”
“Yeah, and the feeling was mutual, she was a horrid creature and I won’t miss her at all.”
Christine then added “Animals can tell when you don’t like them and respond accordingly.”
“OK you two, don’t get going again..” ordered Jenny “..and Kevin you be kinder to your sister, you know she was very fond of Maude.”
“Sorry Sis, I suppose it must have been a shock for you when you found her dead in her basket.”