More of the future prompt nobody asked for! Largely unedited, so apologies for typos.
7/8/16 – Juliet
When she was a little girl, Lucy knew many things about her father. She knew that he liked to sit quietly and read books on Sunday afternoons; he would pull her up into his lap and she’d doze off in the sunshine, listening to his heart beat through his shirt, and the soft rustle of the pages turning. She knew that he thought Mama’s cooking was the best; his favorite was the lemon chicken, and he said that was the first thing Mama had ever cooked for him when they met. She knew he was a Lean Dog; she liked to trace the shape of the running dog on the back of his cut with her fingers. She knew he was really good at building things with Legos, and that he could make her a dollhouse without a starter kit, and that he always smelled like leather and nighttime when he kissed her good night, and tucked the blankets up under her chin.
She was eight when she realized people were afraid of him.
They were at IHOP, just the two of them, Lucy letting her eyes trace over the menu photos of every kind of French toast imaginable, when she heard a voice say, “Lucy? Hello there.”
It was her second grade teacher, Mrs. Nelson, with a man who must have been her husband.
“Hi!” Lucy chirped, waving.
Mrs. Nelson waved back and started toward their table.
She stopped short, though, when she turned to look at Daddy. Then she froze, expression doing something complicated Lucy didn’t understand.
“I – I just wanted to wave hello,” Mrs. Nelson said. “I didn’t mean to interrupt you and your – your father?”
“This is my daddy,” Lucy said proudly. “Daddy, this is Mrs. Nelson.”
And Daddy, much to Lucy’s disappointment, didn’t give Mrs. Nelson the same kind of smile he always gave Lucy. It wasn’t even a smile, the thing his mouth did.
“Hello,” Mrs. Nelson said, bobbing her head in a fast nod. And then she whirled away from the table and was gone.
Later, when Lucy asked Mama about it, Mama sighed and said, “Unfortunately, sweetie, your father isn’t all that friendly most of the time.”
“Unfortunately?” Lucy asked, nose wrinkling.
“Unfortunate for other people, because they don’t know how sweet he is like we do.”
In the years that followed, Lucy would come to learn all the intricacies of her father’s intimidation factor, and that her quiet, kind, gentle father was dangerous in a rare way. He’d worked all her life to be a wall of protection between their small family and the outside world, and she was no longer naïve enough to wonder what sorts of skills Michael McCall brought to the Lean Dogs’ chapel table.
Where time softened some men, it had hardened Michael. At sixty, he was trim and hard as steel, his eyes heavily lined, his hair iron, his expression more terrifying than ever.
He was still her daddy, though.
“Go on,” Holly said from behind her, giving her a little push. “You’ve got to tell him sometime, and it’ll be better for Remy if you talk to Dad first.”
“Yeah. I know.” She took a deep breath and headed out to the driveway, where Michael was tinkering with his bike.
“Hi, Dad.” She sat down cross-legged on the rough concrete of the driveway, her already scuffed boots gaining new scratches.
“Hi, sweetie.” It would always be funny to hear endearments delivered in his dark voice. He’d never baby-talked to her. No silly voices, or mushy platitudes, but she’d never doubted his love. It was a ferocious thing.
He grunted an assent. “Gonna have to wrap ‘em. Look how damn shiny they are.”
“Not the look I’m going for.”
Lucy twisted around to see her mother’s face in the garage door’s window. Holly gave her an encouraging smile.
Lucy took another deep breath and faced forward again. “Hey, Dad?”
“Remember how you told me that if I really needed something from you, all I had to do was ask?”
Slowly, he set down his wrench and gave her his full attention. His eyes were still young and wary, set in his wind-burned face. She saw the calculation in them, the gears moving in his head. “I’ve always told you that,” he said, carefully.
“Don’t freak out, it’s nothing bad,” she said. “Just…I do need something.”
His throat worked as he swallowed. “Okay.” He had the air of a man about to face a firing squad. “You know I’d give you anything.”
She nodded. “All I need is your word. I need your word that you won’t beat the crap out of Remy.”
“Remy, Dad. Remy Lécuyer. You know him,” she said, rolling her eyes.
“Yeah, I know him,” Michael growled. “Why would I want to beat the crap out of him, Lucy? What the hell did he do?”
“Nothing! He didn’t do anything. It’s just that, well…” She bit her lip, embarrassed to put it into words. “He wants to come talk to you. About me.”
“What about you?”
“Oh, Michael,” Holly said behind Lucy. “Don’t be like this. You know what he wants to talk about. How he feels about Lucy.”
“He better not feel any way about Lucy.” Both his hands curled into fists, knuckles cracking.
“Dad, he’s trying to do the right thing. He wants to come talk to you man-to-man.”
“Are you pregnant?”
“No!” she and Holly said in unison.
“Michael, I’m serious,” Holly said, and Lucy imagined her mother had her hands on her hips. “Remy’s a nice boy.”
“Remy’s a Dog,” he said with a snort. “Ain’t none of us nice boys.”