Her name was Lucy, she wore vintage 70s Polyester with old concert tees that were ripped and faded. Her friends were an odd assortment of exchange students, band-geek outcasts and misunderstood rockers who smoked Players cigs like they were sacred or something.
Her senior year of high school was her most traumatic ever. Her parents divorced, her brother announced that he was Gay, and McDonalds stopped selling the McRib sandwich. Her interest in boys was gaining, but her confidence waning. Her awkward unsure demeanor always scared people off and made them afraid to get to know her. Freak, weirdo, sketchpad, and skitzo were the names that the so-called “cool” kids in school used to call her. She fought back with a pen.
Lucy didn’t know what she wanted to do after high school was finished. She just knew that she wanted to be real, and that she didn’t want to end up being some washed up, robotic nobody sitting in a cube farm somewhere pushing meaningless papers like they were some sort of holy scripture.
Her mom (Mary) eventually moved downtown into a loft and invited her to come along in an obligatory sort of way. Lucy never really felt much connection with her mom. She was one of those women who had a family and made a life out of necessity. One of these women that says “well, shit… I’m pregnant, I guess we better try to be a family”. Only, they never really were a family. Mary was a real estate broker and worked her ass off day and night closing deals to acquire more shit, more wealth, better cars, and more stature. While her dad (Clyde) sat in front of the television with a bottle of Jack staring at his dusty guitar dreaming of what could have been.
As much of a fuck up Clyde was, he was real, and had a great connection with Lucy. Sure he got drunk and slurred his words sometimes, but they talked about lyrics and life and analyzed people around them. Clyde was a machinist and always felt resented by his wife. Always made to feel like he was some sort of low-class loser that she got stuck with because they got drunk and fucked! Her brother Aaron was the spawn of this mismatched love made in a watering hole.
Aaron always felt resented too, like he never fit in. He didn’t feel like the joyous addition to a family that most first born children feel they are. He felt more like a dirty little secret, and his first 5 years of life were spent being carted around to various daycares while Clyde busted his ass on the nightshift, sleeping during the day and Lesley fucked off to sell homes, forgetting about her motherhood and 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. 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 motherhood, 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 fucked-up way, her miserable life was what propelled her to sell and be the relentless bitch of a real estate agent she was. She feared for her job security.
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. She miraculously got nothing more than whiplash and a broken heart.
Clyde held her hand 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 and worried about the wrath of her usually angry mother she said “I’m sorry mom, I’m sorry. I didn’t know he was drunk. I swear”
“We’re just glad you’re okay dear” said Mary “And… I love you Lucy. I want you to know that.”
It was no surprise that a year later her mom was finished. Finished with the family, finished with Clyde and finished pretending to be this loving warmhearted soul that only her family saw through.
Lucy stayed with her dad.
When Mary left, the house seemed different. Calmer, quieter, a little bit more depressing, but also a little more real. Clyde frequently sat in the quiet of the dimly lit room pouring himself glass after glass of Jack Daniels while his daughter sat concerned up in her room, and his son Aaron popped ecstacy at parties.
One night Lucy went downstairs. Clyde was sitting in his chair, with the glare of the television illuminating his face as he stared out into the backyard. He didn’t hear Lucy come in and sit down.
“Oh hi dear” he said in an “I’m trying to sound okay” voice
“Dad. We’re gonna be okay.”
“I know honey”
“It’s just us now. Everything is gonna be okay dad”
He looked down into his glass and stared up at his beautifully insightful daughter. He wanted to say something, but a tear fell from his eyes and Lucy sat on the arm of his chair and hugged him tightly holding his head close to hers.