Lucy was a quiet outcast frequently distracted by thoughts of her failing family and directionless life. Her friends were an odd assortment of exchange students, band-geeks and misunderstood rebels who smoked obscure brands of native cigarettes like they were sacred. She wasn’t sure exactly where she fit in, both with her friends at school and with her family at home. She was as uncomfortable in her own skin as one could get, and spent most of her time walking around looking down at the ground, or sitting in her bedroom staring out the window.
Her senior year of high school was her most traumatic ever. Her parents separated, her brother announced that he was Gay and began a full time drugging career, and she had no idea what she wanted to do with her life. Her awkward and unsure demeanor always scared people off and made them uncomfortable around her. It was like they sensed her discomfort and personal trauma. Nobody knew how to communicate with her without feeling burdened by the conversation. Lucy often sat alone on the windowsill of her bedroom window wondering what to do next. She didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life and felt she had little control over the things that happened to her in her life. She just knew that she didn’t want to end up like her mom Mary or depressed and drunk like her father Clyde
Lucy had never really felt much of a connection with her mom; who was one of those women who had kids and made a family life out of necessity, not because it was something she really wanted. Mary was a real estate agent and worked hard day and night closing deals to acquire more shit, more wealth, better cars, and more stature while her husband Clyde sat in front of the television with a bottle of Canadian Club staring at his dusty guitar dreaming of what might have been. Mary pretty much ignored Clyde for the most part and really only spoke to him if she needed something from him. It was largely felt that he was a mistake in her life, and often the kids were made to feel like that as well.
Clyde, as depressed as he was, was at least real. And he had a good (albeit dysfunctional) connection with Lucy. Sure he got drunk and slurred his words sometimes, or cried about his wife Mary, but they talked about lyrics and life and analyzed people around them. Clyde was a machinist and always felt resented by his wife Mary. He tried and tried to make her happy and eventually just gave up. He was always made to feel like he was some sort of low-class loser that she just “got stuck with”. Lucy’s older brother Aaron was the spawn of this mismatched love made in a watering hole. Mary wouldn’t talk to him anymore since he announced to the family at dinner that he was gay. And Clyde, well he just kept trying to figure out how to talk to his son man-to-man about a topic he knew nothing about. So Aaron was pretty much ignored by everyone except Lucy.
Aaron had felt resented since the day he was born. He didn’t feel like the joyous addition to a family that most first-born children are, he was likened more to a dirty little secret. He knew that if it weren’t for that drunken night when his parents conceived him in what was supposed to be a one night stand, they likely wouldn’t be together. His first 5 years of life were spent being shuffled around at various daycare centres while Clyde busted his ass on the nightshift, sleeping during the day and Mary disappeared selling homes, closing deals, and working out incessantly at the gym forgetting about her motherhood duties and lower middle-class reality.
And then came Lucy… Surprise! Another drunken resentful night of sex combined with Mary’s steadfast resistance to the birth control pill. At least after Aaron they made an attempt to be together by getting married. Lucy wouldn’t remember, but apparently after she was born Mary disappeared for 3 months to “figure her life out” while Clyde took a leave of absence at work to carry the weight of single parenthood, the loss of a wife, and worry of finances on his unprepared shoulders.
Mary came back, after two affairs, several hotel rooms, and tanking sales figures at work. She realized that in some miserable way, her real life was what propelled her to sell and be the relentless bitch of a real estate agent she was. She ended up tripling her sales figures that year and went on to become one of the top selling agents in the region. No one was really sure why.
Lucy was fifteen the first time her mother said “I love you”. It was forced, unnatural and totally awkward. Lucy was escorted home by a police officer after her seventeen-year-old boyfriend crashed the car they were driving home from a keg party. Her boyfriend died. Lucy miraculously got nothing more than whiplash and the pain of a dead boyfriend.
Clyde held her hand supportively as she explained the story to her concerned parents. Mary just glared at her in amazement, wondering how she managed to escape unscathed.
Tears streaming down her face she cried “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I didn’t know he was drunk. I swear”
“We’re just glad you’re okay” sighed Mary “And also… I, I love you Lucy. I want you to know that. I always have.”
It was no surprise that a year later her mom was finished. Finished with the family, finished with Clyde and finished pretending to be the warmhearted family woman that only her family knew she wasn’t. Mary went full boar with her selfish material-driven life and shallow career. Aaron moved out with some new friends and Lucy stayed in the empty shell of a family home with her dad.
When Mary and Aaron left, the house seemed different; calmer, quieter, a little bit more depressing, but also a little nicer. Clyde frequently sat in the quiet of the dimly lit living room pouring himself glass after glass of Canadian Club while his daughter sat concerned and reflective looking out of the window in her bedroom. They ate dinner together in the evenings and sometimes watched Jeopardy together.
Late one evening Lucy wandered into the living room to talk to her dad who was sitting in his chair quietly, staring out into the backyard. He didn’t hear Lucy wander in.
“Oh hi Luce” he said in a defeated voice
“Dad… We are gonna be okay”
“I know we are,” he said
“It’s just us now. She never wanted to be here anyway. And Aaron is still here, he just doesn’t live here.”
He looked down into his empty glass and then stared up at his beautifully insightful daughter. He wanted to say something, anything, but couldn’t find the words. A tear fell from his eyes as Lucy sat on the arm of his wingback chair and hugged him tightly holding his head close to hers, while the warm glow of the television reflected on their faces.