Why is it so bright? I think to myself as I slowly crack one eye open. I’m hanging over that’s why. A six pack at the bar and then two stiff drinks for the wedding DVD. Ugh, I did this to myself. Rolling back over I feel my stomach churn and as quickly as is hung over possible I make my way to the porcelain god. I haven’t felt this bad in a long time, over a year to be exact. Mara and Danielle were back in town on the same weekend and I don’t remember most of it. I know it looked like we had fun, there are pictures to prove it. This rivals that weekend of booze and old girlfriends but without the good times. Finally able to lift my head I slowly go in search of coffee. I pop the pod into the maker, thanking all for the wonderful invention and down a glass of water and two pain relievers. I know I’m supposed to be somewhere today, but for the life of me, I just can’t pull it out of my foggy brain.
“Where are you?” Lacey’s voice says when I answer the phone.
“Getting ready, I kind of had a late start…” I say.
“Mom is almost ready to hang you. You’re lucky JJ’s parents are late. They got stuck in game traffic. Hurry up!” she yells, and I realize she knows I’m suffering.
I hang up on her and quickly finish putting on my makeup, I am going to have to pull it together at least for a little while. This brunch was JJ’s mom’s idea so they could see what was happening with the wedding planning and get to know our parents a little more at the same time. Mentally I cringe, I know they are going to talk about Jack, and then they will look at me like I’m some monster. It’s happened before and it will happen today. I pull in just as another car pulls in behind me, talk about timing. At least my mother will be able to relax now.
“Lucy, how nice to see you dear,” JJ’s mom says as she catches up to me in the driveway.
“You too Mrs. Moran, Mr. Moran…” I say courteously.
“It’s been what almost two years? Yes, I think, right after… well you know,” she starts early today.
I remain silent, for fear of lacking a filter or ever letting on to anyone what Jack did to me. I’ve kept mum this whole time, never revealing his indiscretions, letting people believe what they want. As soon as we enter the house my mother and father greet us, a look of relief on her face and a smirk on his. He’s on to me. I chuckle before giving the obligatory hugs.
“Better late than never,” my mother whispers as we embrace.
“Sorry,” I offer smugly.
“Rough nite?” my father laughs into my ear, then pulls away.
“More like a rough life…” I let escape before I can stop it.
His head tilts as he looks at me and I can see the realization wash over his features, the defeated look that flashes there before he remembers we have company. Going in search of my sister I find JJ first.
“They already started JJ. I thought you were going to talk to them about that…” I say exasperated.
“I didn’t get the chance yet. How you feeling?” he asks, curious.
“Let’s just say I should have stopped at the six pack…” I say with a little laugh.
“You watched the wedding DVD didn’t you?” he questions, he knows me well.
“No!” I shoot back at him.
“Liar! Why would you do that to yourself, Lucy?” he asks softly.
“It was there, I was tipsy, you know I like the misery…” I try to turn it into a joke.
“Why would you do that Lucy, besides I thought you burned that?” I hear Lacey behind me.
“Nah, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it,” I answer.
“I knew the minute you picked up the phone that you were hungover, I can always tell you know,” she says gloating but not in a bad way.
“Where’s Logan?” I ask, wondering where my little brother is.
“He too should have stopped with the six pack…” JJ laughs.
“See what you’re missing out on Lacey?” I tease.
“Yeah headaches and nausea, just what I always wanted…” she says loudly.
When I can hear our parents getting close I beeline for Logan’s room, hoping to find him in there. I quietly crack the door and peek my head in.
“Hey, bub…” I say softly.
“Ugh…never again,” he moans.
“I always say that but in the end I forget…” I reply.
“I can’t do this today, Luce…” he says, the only person I allow to even call me by the nickname anymore.
“You can and you will. You will not let me be mauled by the wolves out there on my own. I’ll go get you something for your head and a Gatorade, get up,” I sternly say.
I duck into the kitchen, drop out two little pills into my hand and when I close the refrigerator my mother is there.
“Jesus ma, you scared me…” I nearly yell, clutching the bottle of Gatorade to my chest.
“Were you out with him last night?” she asks coolly.
“No, as a matter of fact, I wasn’t, I was with Lacey,” I snarkily say.
“Hmph, well seems like the two of you are in the same boat then,” she says loudly as she glides past me with a tray of drinks.
I stick my tongue out at her when she is out of sight, I hate that she still lords over me at times.
I find my little brother shirtless and looking green when I reenter his room.
“Mom’s on the warpath, you better puke it up or suck it up bub,” I say tossing the bottle onto his bed.
“Did she ask you if you were with me, too?” he croaks out.
“Yep, like Lacey is the all wonderful princess as usual, god I wish she would have seen some of the messes I had to clean up after for her…” I say.
Logan shakes his head, instantly regretting it and it reminds me of times when he was little and had done something wrong.
“Where were you guys anyways?” he asks after swallowing the pills.
“Just went out for a beer, then I went home and watched the video,” I say.
“Bad call,” he mumbles.
“Yeah, I know…”
Despite our age difference I am close to Logan, he and Lacey on the other hand barely talk at all. They never did get along much, they were so close in age. I used to feel so bad for him when she would torture him, dressing him up in her princess dresses or putting makeup on him. Even though she always got yelled at for it, she insisted that he asked her to do it. My father used to take all of that stuff away from her, to only have my mother give it all back. I guess you could say that we were a family divided, not in a bad way but in the way that we were the three amigos and they were part of the royal family. Thanks to my father, Logan survived my sister.
Despite being twenty-one and moving away to school, he comes home for the summer and works for his buddy landscaping. Why shouldn’t he be allowed to go out and have a good time every now and then, I thought as I plopped down on his bed waiting for him to hurry up. Ever since Jack’s accident my mother was incourageable with drinking. She blamed JJ for a long time, but she’s slowly come to terms with it. I think in some ways she took it harder than I did. I knew that if I could just get Jack to reappear things would work out, she didn’t see that though. Her image of us as the perfect couple was forever shattered. I can hear her calling for us and while Logan is presentable, we both kind of sit there chuckling for a minute before we put her out of her misery.
“Where have you two been?” she nearly snarls at us as we emerge from the hallway.
“Lucy was just asking me if the crew could come out and cut her grass and put in some flowers…” he says without missing a beat.
“Oh how nice, I’ve wondered why you didn’t spruce the house up a bit…” she smiles.
“Busy with work ma,” I answer knowing that in the back of my mind it’s because it’s not home.
“It is a shame that you don’t have someone around to help you with that dear,” Mrs. Moran tsks.
“I actually love cutting the grass and gardening, this is just my busy time right now at work,” I say defiantly.
“Should we eat now?” Lacey chimes in trying to avoid any arguments, my sister the peacekeeper.
“Oh, yes, I’ve made up the table on the patio…” my mother says grandly.
“Well then, to the patio,” Logan mocks her.
I catch a glimpse of a smile on my fathers face as we all follow my mother to the patio. As much as it gets him in the doghouse he likes that Logan and I do whatever we can to horrify my mother. When lunch is finished I think that maybe those were the worst of the comments until I’m just about to excuse myself from the table. Lacey pulls her phone out and proudly boasts the pictures of the men in their suits. He’s in that picture I barely have a chance to think before, “Oh, how well Jack looks, he must be doing really well, look at that smile on his face…” Mrs. Moran gushes. My whole family look to me, waiting for a reaction, or a meltdown, I’m not sure which.
“Is he bringing anyone to the wedding, Lacey?” she asks my sister, further turning the knife in my chest.
“Not that I’m aware of, no. He’s already RSVP’ed,” she shoots back at her future mother in law.
“Is he still doing those exercises Jonah, you know…” she starts but Jonah quickly douses the question, to my dismay, something new I wonder.
“No, they weren’t helpful…” he says too quickly cutting her off.
“Such a shame…” she says and I want to scream at the top of my lungs at her, he chose to do this.
I quietly excuse myself from the table and hightail it back inside. I’m dabbing at my eyes in the downstairs powder room when there is a knock on the door.
“I’ll be out in just a second,” I answer.
“You okay kiddo?” my fathers voice comes through the door.
“I’ll be fine. I just don’t understand why people think it’s my fault dad, I tried so hard to…” I say trailing off as I open the door.
His strong arms wrap around me, “I don’t know what he did for you to leave, and I don’t know why you won’t tell anyone, but kiddo, we all know you tried the best you could, we saw that. That woman out there is probably just pissed off because she’s going to have to hang photos of him on her wall, thus ruining the aesthetic,” he tries to joke.
“I thought we would always be together dad,” I say willing myself not to cry, after two years.
“So did I kiddo. So did I,” he soothes me with his voice and the feel of his arms wrapped around me.