This chapter is for Patsy, who we remember always because time is never ending where you are now.
Our Destiny Undecided
Alice Lurcher, Tralee
~ * ~
“No matter what you do my daughters, do not light a candle when the power goes out if I’m not around, got that?”
Our mother had given us this simple rule many years ago. As seven year olds, some nights we were left to fend for ourselves, and this was all she had told us before she had left the first night we were on our own. Normal parents would have said goodbye, or given their children a quick kiss on the forehead before hurrying off into the lonely streets, but not our mother. I had looked at my sister, Abigail, with confusion but she had simply shrugged. We had never broken that one rule we had been given. Well, not until now.
~ * ~
“Girls, I want you on the stage in fifteen minutes, the customers are getting a wee bit impatient,” our mother called. I turned to Abigail who sat by my side in the dusty old dressing room that smelled faintly of a perfume that our mother had long stopped wearing. She hated that room with an undeniable passion, and instead of coming to get us, she simply yelled from up the hall, avoiding the smell altogether.
“We’ve only been on break for half an hour,” I complained to Abigail, who listened keenly to my words. She nodded absentmindedly. “I think she thinks we’re dancing dolls that only need new batteries to start working well again.” Abigail nodded again. I was the Lurcher sister who did all the talking, Abigail was the one who just sat there and listened. You could always be sure that she took in your words, but I on the other hand, was not as trustworthy as she.
“Gabriella,” I hissed, slapping my best friends’ hands away from the bottles on the mirror-stand in front of us. Abigail and I shared the same seat as Gabriella prepared us for our next performance. “How many times do I have to tell you that you’re not allowed to use those ones, you know how our mother gets about us using her old stuff.”
Gabriella frowned. “Why don’t your mother just come and move em, them? Ye don’t have to keep em ‘ere, Alice.” Gabriella was the most outgoing of our small group of friends. She had a thick Irish accent with even thicker curly ginger hair and sharp blue eyes that ate you from the inside out. She’s another of the waitresses that pulled her weight at the Gypsy Tavern, an Irishman’s dream bar across the hall from Tralee’s tallest hotel which what it lacked in technology it made up for in charm. The Grand Hotel may not have been grand, but it made a pretty penny well enough.
“Don’t curse my mother, Gab, she does ‘er best fer all of us,” I tutted, my accent not as strong as my red-haired friends.
“Don’t che know it, Alice Lurcher, don’t che know it.” Gabriella sighed in reply.
Mother used to say that if you stared into the corner of somebody’s eye for long enough they would notice you. Abigail took that advice to heart and caught my eye as I talked in a deep tone with Gab about my own mothers oddities.
“What, Abigail?” I questioned as I turned to meet her gaze. She didn’t respond, and just kept staring. “Abby, please stop that, it’s plain creepy.”
“Yer know she ain’t got no reason to stop, Alice, she’s just gonna keep staring at ye until ye wet yerself,” Gabriella laughed. I turned to stare back at her for her comment, and she placed her hand firmly over her mouth to express her eagerness at keeping her words quiet.
“Girls,” my mother called more sternly than the last time, “ye got five minutes, I want ye down here dead quick or I’ll lower yer pay again.”
As Gabriella placed the final touches on my face and helped Abigail into her costume, with which she always had trouble slipping into, she thrust us down the hall as our mother called out that we had thirty seconds to get our hides down onto the stage before the still sober punters up and left the joint.
We ran into Jack, our other friend, who was filling up some jugs with water behind the stage. He nodded in acknowledgment as we started up the stairs, but before we could make it, he whispered out the same words he did every show. “Make ‘em drunk wid yer moves, girls, they’ll only need half the drink when yer done wid em.”
I laughed and Abigail made her distinct grunting noise as we clambered onto the stage to perform for our pay.
~ * ~
“That was almost as good as my drink girls, good way to keep the young males entertained,” said one of the older men who spent most of his days at the Gypsy Tavern. His story wasn’t unusual. Wife died, children up and left to make a pretty penny elsewhere, his parents left him a little coin to spend on himself, and used what was left to by a few drinks a week here. His friends, who too came by the bar often, called him good ol’ Jasper, which was fair enough seeing he was both a good man, and old.
“Good to know that’s what yer think, Mister Jasper,” Gabriella replied for us, like every day. Abigail had disappeared, off back the rooms probably. She hated being a waitress, because she couldn’t ask questions. Few understood, and there were even fewer that she would serve because of it.
“Gab,” I called to my friend before she left to get good ol’ Jasper another drink, “ye got another hour?” Only when my red-haired friend nodded did I continued, “Doctor Alistair wants me to take Abby down to him before nightfall, is that okay with ye if ye stay and work? I’ll tell mother, and she’ll pay ye a little bit fer yer help,”
I had been right, of course. I had swiftly gone off to get Abigail as Gabriella had agreed to watch while I took her. She made her Abigail groan as I told her she that Doctor Alistair wanted to see her again, because both she and I knew that it wouldn’t do her any good. Abigail was happy with being unable to speak, but the doctor wouldn’t accept that for an answer.
“C’mon, Abby,” I groaned as Abigail excused herself to get dressed without help. “Let me in, I’ll help you and we’ll be gone and back before closing,” when she didn’t reply I knocked on the door, “Abb, open up now,”
She made an Abigail sigh, and then pulled open the door, her dress half on and half off.
~ * ~
“See?” I said as we eventually left, “it was easier once you agreed to let me help you get into your clothes.” I imagined her with a voice, saying that she could have done it on her own, but as she once again stared into the corner of my eye, and I was pulled from my thoughts.
We caught a taxi just outside, after sitting for a few seconds on the cold tables as the wind blew passed, people of the square flittering around as the rain began to fall.
“Where de yer want ta go, Lurcher’s?” The driver asked, obviously knowing of our growing town fame. Everybody called us the Lurcher’s, and they had a right too. I preferred Lurcher to Alice, anyhow, as I was more of a dog person than a person, truth be told. Of course, Abigail didn’t mind and nobody seemed to notice her opinion on things, so she kept her silence to herself and carried on like it was nobody’s business.
“Doctor Alistair’s, please driver,” I replied.
The driver turned to look at me as he turned a familiar corner and up a long straight road, past the post office and the shop that sold the lawn mowers that nobody bothered with, because few people had grass to mow. “Ain’t that a bit close to those darned gypsy folk, fer Lurcher’s like yerselves?” He asked, pouting.
“Nar, we’re good mister,” I replied, brushing him off like a leaf, “Doctor wanted to see Abigail again, it’s not his fault that the government gave the land to em.”
The driver turned back to look at the road again, surprised by my almost adult conversation. I’m only sixteen, and most my age avoid the Gypsy topic, and most parents believe it best, because they’re more likely to not understand. I do, though.
“I ‘eard dat the government payed ‘em to get off the greenbelt, big money,” the driver continued as we turned down the road to the clinic. “Bigger than what us folk get in our lifetimes,”
I turned to look out of the window, and Abigail grunted beside me, knowing that it was pointless and that mother was wasting her money and that Doctor Alistair was wasting his time.
“They’ll get it back, ye know how their brains work,” I replied intelligently. The taxi slowly pulled into the crowded clinic car park, with three spots and at least seven cars. Finding a place to park had always been considered a hard task, seeing that most car parks where covered by buildings, and properties were big enough for a house and a strip of land out that front and back if you were lucky.
“That’ll be three, Miss Lurcher,” he said as I went to get out. “And are ye Miss Alice, or Miss Abigail, may I ask?”
“I’m Miss Alice, sir,” I replied as I handed him the coins from my tattered, handmade purse. “Thank you, sir,”
I ushered Abigail into the clinic as the taxi drove off. Doctor Alistair sat in the front office as per usual, waiting for us to arrive. He was hoping for science to prevail, everybody else was hoping for a miracle.
“Is it okay if I go on some rounds, Abby?”I ask as Doctor Alistair starts checking her pulse and other tests that arguably have no goal. Abigail makes a groaning sound, but then nods. “I’ve got to go and check that Gabriella hasn’t made a mess of things.”
After Doctor Alistair nods his own approval, I turn and leave.
A/N: This is a mix of Historical Fiction (because the Grand Hotel is a real hotel in Tralee, Ireland, though I renamed the bar to the Gypsy Tavern for personal reasons) and Fantasy (because you certainly don’t end up in an alternate universe when you light a candle). Abigail and Alice are certainly based on real people, although Abigail can speak and Alice isn’t as co-ordinated, and I did of course change the names. Lurcher’s are a breed of dog that originate from around about Ireland, and where the dogs by the side of the Gypsies. I’m aiming for 10,000 words or more, but that’s about it. It’ll only be short, and I’ll continue Frost Bound. I’ve always wanted to write a novel based in Ireland, with my major attempt titled Scout & Gypsy Boy. This whole thing is for Patsy, always, not just the first chapter. If you want a dedication to one of your family members passed, please say so in your comment, and I’ll give you one. There will be 15-20 chapters, with a max of 2 dedications each. Forever, Aleauea.
© Copyright 2017 Aleauea. All rights reserved.
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