The Bootlegger's Daughter

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A Snapdragon Bouquet

After school I didn’t wait for my brother and cousins to walk home with me. I just grabbed my coat and hat and started off. I think that Robert yelled at me to wait but I didn’t listen to him. Sometimes you just have to be alone.

Mary was by the door when I came home. She was putting on her hat and gloves like she was going to go somewhere.

“Where are the boys?” She asked once she saw me.

“On their way home. I just wanted a head start.” Mary shrugged her shoulders and continued to get ready to go out. “Where are you going?”

“I’m meeting Hugh at a restaurant. We have some things we need to talk about.” Mr. Connor still hadn’t asked Uncle Johnny and Aunt Emma if he could marry Mary. “Oh, Sweetie said that he wanted to see you and David. I think that he is in his office.” I nodded my head and a car horn came from outside. Mary opened the door and sure enough was Mary’s fiancé in his terrible car. She got in and drove off.

I went to Father’s office like Mary told me and knocked on the door. I was told to come in so I did. Father was sitting on a plush chair that was pushed off to the side of the office. He was reading the newspaper.

“Mary said that you wanted to see me?”

“I wanted to see you and David. Where is he?”

“I’ll just tell him whatever he needs to know.” I said. Father sighed and put down the newspaper.

“I want to take you two to the cemetery to see your mother.” I kept a straight face and nodded. But on the inside I wanted to complain about going. I hated it every year. It was just the three of us standing at a grave while I put down flowers and David and Father tried to talk about her. I always refused to talk.

“I’m going to go tell David.” I said and left the room. I walked through hallways complaining under my breath about going. I don’t know why I was surprised; it isn’t like this is a new tradition. But I still did not want to go.

I went to David’s room where I could hear him and John talking. I didn’t care to knock or even eavesdrop. I just wanted to get going to the cemetery over with. So I walked into the room, told David to get ready to leave, and left within a minute.

In the meantime I got ready myself. I put on my veiled black hat that I wore to Grandfather’s funeral and put on gloves. I think I would have looked very respectable if it wasn’t for the huge frown on my face. Halloween is one of the worst days of the year.

Within the hour David, Father, and I were in the car on our way to the cemetery. I was holding a small bouquet of snapdragons. They were Mother’s favorites. Every time we visit her we bring a fresh set. I don’t know the last time the flowers were changed out because I only visit her twice a year, but I know that Father goes a few times a year.

The cemetery that held Mother’s grave was the same one that held Grandfather’s. I still think it’s an interesting place, how it is all tucked up inside the city, but I feel awkward every time I go there. I am aware that it is a bit odd, but I can stand to see Grandfather’s and Grandmother’s graves, yet I do my best to avoid Mother’s at all costs. During Grandfather’s funeral I refused to even look at the grave. In fact, I pretended that it didn’t even exist.

But there I was, standing in front of a headstone that read “Amelia C. Sweet October 31, 1877 - August 5, 1911” with my brother who I could not stand to be around and my father who was trying to update a dead woman on the state of her children. She would have turned forty five that day. Near the end of our visit I put down her bouquet and picked up the old and now dead one.

Personally I think that the oddest part about being in that cemetery is realizing that someday I will be buried there. All my family will. Father will be buried right next to mother. There is also a spot very close by that was supposed to be for me. When I was very little I was a sickly child. People didn’t think I would live long. So I got a plot to be buried in when I died. But I was stubborn and refused to die. Then when David was born there were a lot of complications and they didn’t think that he would survive. But even he proved them wrong. But it doesn’t seem right to think that there will be a headstone just like Mother’s that’ll say “Lucille A. Sweet.” Granted it probably won’t have that last name because I would hope to at least be married by the time I die. Thinking about my headstone is probably the closest I will ever come to realizing my own mortality.

I wish I could recall what Father said while there, but I tuned him out and have no idea what he said. He probably told an accidental lie about how her children were getting along perfectly fine and being perfect little angels. I’m sure we were angels when we were five and two, but I’m sure that has changed by now. Angels don’t threaten family members. And that’s not to say that I am a perfectly innocent person who has done nothing wrong in her life. I’ve hurt people. I’m not proud of it but that is something that has happened.

David started to cry a little bit. I saw him wipe away one or two tears. I have no idea if he was faking his sadness or not. Previously I would have thought that he was thinking about what his life would be like if he actually had a mother. Almost as if he was thinking of a road not taken scenario. But it isn’t like he can control who can get typhoid though.

Before he told me his plan I thought that David was so predictable. I could almost see what he was thinking. And it was easy too. Yet he threw me so off guard that I had no idea what he was doing crying at Mother’s grave. He could have been playing at Father’s and my emotions. If that was the case it would make him look more sensitive and less likely to betray the family. But I do know that he does miss Mother. I like to believe at least that I am not wrong in that judgement of him. So it is quite possible that he was just upset because he was here celebrating his mother’s birthday at a cemetery. I wasn’t happy about that either.

Soon after though we got back into the car. I was very happy to leave the cemetery. I just don’t know what to do with myself while I am there. I don’t have anything to say to Mother and I don’t have anything to say to my living family. Does that make me a bad person? I didn’t wish for my mother to die when I was a girl. But I am used to it by now. It was eleven years ago. To me it was time to move on. People no longer cried at night because of her death, but it was still very much alive to my family. Or maybe I don’t have a heart. At the end of the day I was just happy to go home and not have to go back to the cemetery until August to mourn the anniversary of my dear mother, Minnie’s death.

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