“Lyly!” I hear Lucia shout to me from across the house, “I need help!”
I run to her room, scared of what I might find. Philip gave her a new tea set for her birthday, matching the joy of her new dress. Elizabeth and Molly both giving her new dolls so she can have more company during her exclusive tea parties. All I hope is that she is happy and almost ready for school. The other three are waiting downstairs and we need to leave soon. I knock on her door and she lets me in.
“What do you need?” I ask, nervous that she might be hurt.
“I need help putting on my dress.” She responds, ever the princess.
“Don’t you have Mary to help you?” I counter, naming her maid.
“I wanted you to help, she doesn’t know me as well as you do.” Lucia says, being as shy and reserved as Mama. I follow her into her room ready to be the best big sister I can be, trying to mimic what Elizabeth and Molly were like when I was Lucia’s age. They were always good at making me feel happy when I needed it. Especially after Mama died. I helped Lucia put on the dress and we go downstairs to join the rest of the family before we went to school.
“You almost made us late!” Philip says, chastising us for our tardiness.
“Yeah! We don’t want to be late on the first day of school!” Elizabeth agrees, always worried about being punctual. We leave the house, walking a few blocks to get to the school house.
“How was your first day of school?” I tentatively ask Lucia after school on the walk home, Philip, Elizabeth, and Molly a few paces ahead.
“This is the best day of my life!” She responds eagerly, reflecting how I felt on my first day. Giving me deja vu that I won’t soon forget; I hope that her day doesn’t take the turn mine did.
“That is fantastic! What did you do?” I lead her into a conversation as she reflects on her first day and enthusiastically retells her favorite events. We arrive home just as Lucia finishes her story, Philip, Elizabeth, and Molly also enthralled in her dramatic render of her day. Papa is not home yet so we sit in the parlor to wait for him.
“When will Papa be home?” Lucia wonders aloud.
“Normally now, but he could have gotten hung up at work.” Philip says, being the best older brother, not giving in to the similar worry that I was feeling. We all know that us older siblings are worried that this day will reflect my first day, hoping it won’t. There is a knock on the door and a butler hurries to open it. Papa would have walked in and not knocked. We glance at each other, worry lacing our eyes. The butler lets in a messenger, who looks in awe of our grand entryway and the classy clothes our butler is wearing.
“I have a message for the eldest child of the Flynn family.” Philip steps out of the parlor and into the foyer.
“That would be me.” He announced, throat bobbing, fear lacing every word.
“I have message from Mr. Flynn, your father,” The messenger responds, “He says that he will arrive home late tonight and not to worry.” An invisible weight lifts from my shoulders that I didn’t even realize was there.
“Thank you.” Philip dismisses the messenger and returns to our posse in the parlor. We sit in a heavy silence waiting for Papa to come home and no one bothers to break the silence. We all drift in and out of sleep, so nervous that Papa won’t come home. A maid comes to tell us that supper is ready, but we dismiss her, not feeling hungry. When Papa finally walks in, we rush to hug him, happy that he is alright and that we still have a parent. Lucia, asleep in my arms, stirs at the sudden noise.
“Whaz happenin’?” She mumbles, almost incoherently.
“Papa is home.” I respond softly, not wanting her to wake up fully so she’ll have enough energy for school the next day.
“Did you lot even eat supper? Or did you just sit and wait around for me to come home? I know you care about me, but you should take care of yourselves, too!” Papa calls us out, but with a hint of humor in his voice. He doesn’t spare a moment to ask us how we are or how school was. We glance at each other and I finally realize that my stomach has been grumbling for a while, I was just too preoccupied with thoughts of Papa to eat. I bring Lucia up to bed and then follow the rest of my family to the kitchen to eat dinner. The maid brings it out and we eat quickly so we can go to bed since it is late. I go upstairs and walk to my room, ready to sleep.
“Lyly?” I hear Lucia’s faint voice whisper from my bed.
“What would happen if Papa had died?” She asks the question I had been asking myself all night whilst waiting for Papa to come home.
“I’m not sure.” I answer honestly, afraid of her reaction.
“Okay. But would we survive? Would we still be able to go to school?”
“Of course!” I respond warily, not entirely sure of the answer myself. I bring her to her room and tuck her in. She falls asleep instantly and I go to my room, finally able to get sleep. Glad that this stressful day is over. Ready to start over tomorrow. Or is it today? I don’t know.