The Bootlegger's Daughter

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My Favorite Hobby: Day Drinking

If I thought coming home from school early the day Grandfather was killed was bad, this was five times worse. For some reason it felt as if everyone was home. Granted, it was only Aunt Bertha and Lady. But that was two people too many. I don’t know why my family members seem to have such good hearing, but the second I closed the door Aunt Bertha came in to see who it was with Lady right behind her.

“Lucy! Why aren’t you at school? Is everything alright?” Aunt Bertha asked. Maybe it was the heart attack I gave myself in the car ride, but I really didn’t care to keep up a charade. And seeing Aunt Bertha and Lady, especially in the same room did not put me in a good mood.

“Well I am perfectly fine. David isn’t,” I said. Aunt Bertha gasped and put her hand on her chest. “And I got expelled so that is why I am not at school.” I put my hand in my coat pocket and found the letter that Miss Hayes had given me. “If you want to read about it.” Aunt Bertha took the letter, but didn’t open it.

“What happened to David?” she asked.

“I may or may not have cut his face from here to here,” I said as I moved my finger along my face where my knife had gone over David only about an hour ago. “So he may or not be in the hospital.”

“Oh my goddess! How could you do such a thing?” Her voice was getting higher each question she asked.

“A secret. So shhhh,” I said as I put my finger to my lip.

“You shouldn’t talk to your aunt like that,” Lady said. “It is disrespectful.”

“And you shouldn’t wear your hair like that. I think it is disrespectful to fashion,” I said. It was a rude thing to say, but it was a really bad hairstyle.

“Lucy!” Aunt Bertha yelled.

“Fine. I’m sorry, Lady. Although you should go to a hairstylist and learn a thing or two. And my dear aunt, I talked to Father. He knows about David, my expulsion, and why I did it. I am not sharing why I did it to everyone because it is a personal matter. You really don’t need to lecture me because I have already had two today. I am done and going to my room to be by myself. Please don’t follow me,” I said.

Then I left. I don’t know if they were stunned or what. I just know that I got some time to myself. Which was good because I needed to think about what I would say to David when I would undoubtedly be forced to apologize to him. Ugh, I hate consequences.

I wasn’t nervous or even thinking about seeing Ruthie later that night. I had gotten used to seeing her and going out in public wearing a suit. I still wouldn’t go to school or something like that wearing one, but walking to the McKays’ house was alright. Even though I was going to see David the next day, I was more nervous about that.

Sitting alone in my room, I thought about what I would say to him. Of course I would apologize to him. I knew I should anyways, but in my plan I was going to. There were some other things that I decided to tell David, but I’ll get to those later. Sorry for leaving you in suspense.

I ate my lunch and distanced myself from the rest of my family. When I looked out my bedroom window I saw Lady leaving so at least I didn’t have to deal with her. It is the small things that matter. Aunt Bertha didn’t come up to talk to me. I am sure she was still mad at me. All I hoped was that she wouldn’t tell Father because I really did not need him to lecture me again.

About an hour before my cousins would come home from school, Mary came back home. The only reason I knew that she was even home was because she decided to slam the front door closed. It wasn’t like I was watching the window religiously for her like I was when I wanted Lady to leave.

I heard Mary storm up the stairs while grumbling to herself. I went back to the window and saw Aunt Emma walking up to the door. It was clear that something had happened. And because I now had nothing to do and was avoiding Aunt Bertha, I decided to go and find out. Plus I care about Mary and I want to know what was bothering her. Maybe she had just come back from cutting up someone’s face? Frankly I wouldn’t put it past her.

It was easy to tell when Mary made it to the top floor because she stomped with every step, and because of her heels they were very loud. She walked past my room, but paid no attention to me. Granted, my door was closed and she had no reason to even know that I was home. I should have been at school like a good student.

“Oh, but I’m stupid for wanting to go and…” Mary said as she walked past my room. She hardly ever talks to herself, so when she does I know that Mary is mad. And Mary was mad then. She also made a nice little scene coming into and walking through the house, so it was pretty easy to guess that.

Mary slammed the door to her room and I heard a soft thunk. Which of course prompted me to start my investigation. I quietly opened my door and started to walk into the hallway, what the floorboards under my door creaked. I didn’t want Mary to come out and yell at me, so I took off my shoes in hope to be more silent.

I creeped down the hallway and waited outside Mary’s room. She was no longer talking to herself. I could hear her pacing back and forth and her cursing under her breath occasionally. But then I heard what I was really listening for: the sloshing of liquid in a bottle and the sound of her taking a swig. That was reason enough to go in. It made me mad that she would criticize me for drinking and then go and do it herself.

I tried to walk quietly to her door so I could knock and make it sound like I wasn’t spying a second ago. But I misstepped and made the floorboards creak. Mary opened her door with a bottle in her hand and murder in her eyes. I don’t know why the universe decided that it wanted me dead that day.

“Why are you outside my room?” Mary asked. There was no warmth in her voice. Not that she is always the kindest and most caring person in the room, but she is usually a bit nicer and least. I don’t like her for nothing.

“Why are you drinking?” I asked. Classic avoiding the question.

“Because of my stupid mother,” Mary said. The dangerous look in her eyes didn’t go away, but it lessened, as if she was looking at her mother through the floors. “Because she doesn’t care about my happiness!” Mary yelled into the floor.

“What happened?” Mary took another swig from the bottle and went into her room; I followed. “Also can I have some of that? You are not the only one who has had a bad day.”

“Yeah…” Mary said while thinking. She extended the bottle to me and I took it and started to drink. It was moonshine that I have no idea where she got. “Aren’t you meant to be in school?”

“It isn’t important where I am supposed to be. What is important is what happened,” I said.

“Hugh invited Mother and me to a restaurant. To talk about the wedding. He even drove us there, the sweetheart. I think it was his car. Mother probably hated it.”

“It is a pretty terrible car,” I interrupted. Mary glared and me and I shut up and went back to drinking.

“He formally asked her for her and Father’s blessing. He said how much he loved me and that we wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of his life with me. Isn’t that sweet?” I nodded mostly so Mary wouldn’t get mad at me. “Hugh told Mother that we had set a date. Which was a secret!” She yelled that last part at her window as if Hugh Connor was standing just below. “Then he said that we were thinking about moving out to California. And then Mother lost it. She said that I could never marry him. She would never give her blessing. Then she walked out of the restaurant. I followed her and yelled at her on the street. Then I walked home without her.” When she had finished she took the bottle back and finished it off. We probably shouldn’t have drank that whole thing, but sometimes it feels as if nothing in life matters anyways. What’s one more empty bottle of moonshine?

“Are you still going to marry him?” I asked.

“I have to. I already promised him that I would when he proposed,” she replied.

“You don’t have to do anything. There is a reason that people don’t get married the day after they get engaged.”

“I will still marry Hugh. I love him more than anyone else. No offence, Lucy.”

“None taken.”

“I am sticking with the wedding date. California thought… I don’t know about that yet. But regardless I will get married, even if Mother refuses to go.”

“Okay.” I must admit my flaws: I am a terrible conversationalist.

“I was going to wait to tell you this, but seeing as you’re here now anyway, I would like you to be a bridesmaid. Because it will be a small wedding you will only be doing it with my friends Erma and Martha. So, would you like to do that?”

Frankly I was shocked. I don’t know why. Mary and I have always been close. When I get married I would ask her to be my bridesmaid. Why was I so surprised that she asked me to be hers?

“As long as your mother will allow it,” I joked. Mary smiled.

“Forget her,” Mary said.

“I love Aunt Emma, but I will drink to that.”

“You would drink to anything, you drunk. Now go chase yourself.” So I took my leave and went back to my room where I didn’t leave until it was time to eat.

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