The Bootlegger's Daughter

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Mary's Secret

I followed Mary up the stairs. I walked behind her and we didn’t talk to each other. I thought we were just going to her room, but we didn’t. Instead Mary brought me up to the attic.

The attic is nothing special. There is a safe that I don’t know the combination to, lots of crates of old things, and barrels where we keep extra alcohol in case something happens to the speakeasy. Mary sat down on the floor in the middle of the attic and I did the same.

“Mary, why are we here?” I asked her. Mary leaned in close to me and spoke in a quiet voice as if someone would hear us. No one could though.

“I need to show you something.” Mary said.

“Well get to the point then, show me!” I said. I didn’t and still don’t like being kept in suspense. Mary gave me a nervous look, then reached gingerly into the neck of her dress. She was wearing a chain necklace and had pulled out the rest of it. She had her hand around the charm of the necklace and opened her hand slowly to show me.

“Mary, is that a ring?” I asked dumbfounded. Mary smiled and nodded her head. “Is that a handcuff?” I asked.

“Yes.” Mary said in a somewhat dreamy voice. “I’m going down the middle aisle! Isn’t that exciting?” Honestly I thought it was more shocking than exciting but I did not want to be rude to Mary when she was so happy.

“And whom are you engaged to?” I asked. Mary fidgeted a bit on the floor. “Mary.” I said sternly.

“Hugh Connor.” I gave Mary a disappointed look.

“You know Aunt Emma does not like him. I have heard her telling Aunt Bertha that you could find someone better.”

“Oh what does it matter what they think of him. I love him and we want to start a family together.” Mary said defensively. I gave her another look after her last sentence. “Oh don’t worry, we haven’t done anything yet.”

“You don’t care what they think yet you also didn’t tell anyone or wear your ring on your finger.”

“Well you said it, they don’t like him. But I wanted to tell you. I thought you would support me.”

“I do support you. But have you even told him what we do?” I asked. Mary sighed.

“He knows the minimum.” Mary said. There was a pause where neither of us said anything.

“Are you going to stay with us when you marry, or are you going to leave?” I asked. Mary looked down at the floor.

“Hugh doesn’t want a working wife, even if it is for the family. He tells me that I am no flapper. What’s more is he wants to move to California.” I sighed and looked down at the floor too. “But none of that is set in stone. I might put my foot down.” Mary said trying to cheer me up.

“I’m sure it isn’t.” I said as I got up from the floor. “A word of advice though, Mary. Tell your mother about the engagement. Even if she doesn’t like him, she deserves to know.” I climbed down the ladder, leaving Mary alone in the attic. But I remembered something so I stuck my head back up into the attic. “Also, I am glad to see that all that alcohol you had hasn’t affected you much.”

“I am glad to see that your eye healed pretty well from yesterday.” Mary said right back at me. Truth be told I had forgotten about my eye. Again, Lillian’s punch was not that good. While it had bruised the day of the strike, all that was left of it the next day was a faint yellow that I covered up with some makeup.

I went back to my room and was left again with the realization that I had time to kill. The clock said it was a bit after 8 pm. On any normal day I would have went to the speakeasy or something, but I didn’t feel like going back there. I wasn’t going to sleep again as I had already taken a nap and was not tired at all. So I picked up Ulysses and actually read some. When the mood catches me right, I can read for hours and thankfully the mood did. When I looked at the clock again it was 9:30.

It was partly boredom and partly wanting to look my best that I decided to dress up for the meeting. I took off my dress and carefully put on a new one. I didn’t want to mess up my hair because unless it was for a holiday or something Mary would only do my hair once per day. I put on a long sleeved green dress that had green flowers at the hem of the skirt. It was a spring dress but I didn’t care. I also put on a matching dark green hat. I did my makeup to look like Mary Pickford. She was one of my favorite actresses ever since I saw her in Cinderella back in 1914.

I am somewhat of a perfectionist so it took a long time to do my makeup, which is why I don’t normally wear it when I go to school. It took me half an hour, making it ten o’clock.

There was a knock on my door once I finished my makeup. I got up to answer it but before I could get to the door Aunt Bertha started talking anyways.

“Lucy will you come down and watch Matthew while I get things ready for tonight?” I got to the door and walked out with Aunt Bertha.

“Are you going to the meeting tonight?” I asked her.

“Yes I figured I ought to be at such an important one.” Aunt Bertha said as we walked to her and Uncle Henry’s bedroom. “If you can get Matthew to sleep, I will come get you at a quarter till.” Aunt Bertha said. She then left me and went downstairs.

The bedroom was the second smallest on that floor, only Grandfather’s old room was smaller. Since Uncle Henry was a bachelor for so long no one thought he would need a big room. Then he got married and no one moved rooms. So it was and still is a bit cramped. There is a bed, dresser, vanity, and a crib for Matthew. Although now Matthew doesn’t sleep there, Aunt Bertha’s new child does. Little Matthew was sitting in his crib playing with toys when I came in.

“Hello Lucy.” He said when I came in. He could talk but struggled with pronunciation. His ‘Lucy’ sounded more similar to ‘Wucy’. He is growing out of the mispronunciations but it still isn’t perfect. David was the same way when he was little. Father said that I used to be the only one who could understand him.

“Hello Matthew!” I said in a high happy voice.”What are you playing with?”

“My bear.” Matthew said happily. Nothing bothers him, not an inch of him was sad. Then again you cannot expect much understanding of death and sadness from a toddler.

“Well I ought to et you ready for bed.” I told Matthew.

“Aww, must I?” Matthew said. I nodded my head and smiled a bit.

“Where does your mother keep your pajamas?” I asked him. Matthew pointed to the dresser so I went over to look. There were three drawers. The first was Uncle Henry’s, the second was Aunt Bertha, and the third was Matthew’s things. I dug through his stuff and pulled out pajamas.

I helped Matthew get changed and made sure he was comfortable in his bed. I lit a candle at the bedside and turned off the electric lights. I layed down on top of the bed and closed my eyes a bit. The room was very relaxing. All one could hear is Matthew’s soft breathing and the slight burning of the candle. I never fell asleep but was having a wonderful time just laying there. But after what felt like only seconds of laying in the room, Aunt Bertha came in the room quietly.

“Lucy, are you awake?” Aunt Bertha asked through a whisper.

“Yes I am.” I replied a bit louder but not enough to wake Matthew up.

“Good, you can come downstairs now, everyone is gathering. Aunt Bertha said and left the room.

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