On the one hand, Verbose Auntie had not been seen all morning, by any of us, and she wasn't answering her phone, or her door.
On the other hand, she is of course a grown woman and entitled just to have a moment to herself without reporting to head office to have any 'me' time signed off by the general. Or Nanna.
But you see, we're a close family. Mama is one of five, and my Nanna lives just down the road, so as a member of this Mafia "clan" it is sort of part of the deal that everybody else knows your business. Often my Nanna, three out of four aunties, at least two cousins AND the post woman will know when I've farted before the noise has even left my chocolate starfish.
Everybody will swear blind that they can keep a secret, but nobody in the family considers a) passing on 'information' to a fellow clan-member to be defying the rules and b) certainly not if it is done in a whisper, even though there is only you and her in the room and nobody else can hear you anyway. Because rest assured, it is always a 'her'. The men married into this family sure as hell don't have the balls to give a shit- they do as they are told. Five sisters and Marlo Brando aren't to be reckoned with. I love it.
Verbose Auntie lives right across the road from my parents, so it sort of became our responsibility to establish the situation. If there was a situation. But you see, it was a Sunday, and Verbose Auntie normally has Sunday lunch at Mum and Dad's. It was 1 p.m. and nobody knew if she was coming or not WHICH WAS JUST NOT NORMAL. That's another thing- we're routine people. If you have lunch with The Williams's more than two Sundays in a row then you bet your ass you'll have four sisters and your mother presuming that it's same time, same place next week kids!
Verbose Auntie had once told me that if I was ever at Mum and Dad's and I looked out of the window to notice her curtains drawn past noon, that I was to use the spare key to make sure that she was still alive. If she wasn't, my second job was to call an ambulance. My first job was to hide her vibrator.
With this in mind, I sort of felt personally responsible. The family grapevine was gathering gusto in the 'Where is Verbose Auntie?' hunt and suddenly, it became MY job to use that spare key and make sure that she wasn't dead and rotting away in the house. Aaaaaaaall me. Yup. Solo. My responsibility. To check that there wasn't a dead person in my auntie's house. Easy peasy. Yeah. No problemo. Thanks for ensuring it was my turn to take one for the team, guys. Appreciate that.
My heart literally beat like the bass-line to a Lil Wayne track as I crossed the road in my pink slipper socks, opened her gate, and slipped the key into the lock. I could see through the glass in her door that there was a lamp on and her handbag was on the sofa. It didn't look like the living room of a woman who had consciously left the house that morning. I mean, her handbag was right there! Nobody leaves the house without their handbag! Which meant that obviously I was about to find a dead body.
I clutched at my iPhone, sensing that I would need it.
"Auntie?" I called out pathetically, as I slowly walked through the rooms of the house. Of course, I knew a quick glance through wouldn't do- what if she was hidden behind this corner, or that wall? Honestly, I felt SICK.
I headed up the stairs. "Aaauuuuntie?" I yelled again. No response.
I checked each room as my throat homed in my heart and my stomach hid in my bowels.
Nothing. NOTHING! The realisation hit me: no dead body! No dead body! NO DEAD BODY!
You'd better believed I ran down those stairs and out of that house faster than anybody has ever run before. I HAD AVOIDED CATASTROPHE. Phew!
Verbose Auntie came trundling into the house four hours later, pissed up on brandy and beer. "I didn't mean to get drunk! It just sort of happened!" she slurred in merriment. "I've had ever such a good time!"
You were nearly dead! I thought to myself. DEAD.
And that is as exciting as my week has been, folks. I apologise.