“Pinch your arm if I catch you,” Shelly chased her older brother from the living room out the door of their two-story tenement. “Maggie, Sean just went out the front door, again.”
“Shelly, God’ll get you for bein’ a tattle tale.” Sean O’Connor called from outside the thin metal screen.
“Enough.” Maggie O’Connor walked into the foyer with her hands on her hips. “Sean, get your tail back in here, it’s night time and there all sorts of people on the streets.”
“When’s papa gonna be home?” Sean closed the front door as he re-entered the house.
Maggie grinned. “You think your father’s going to help you out of this mess?”
“Yeah,” echoed twelve year old Shelly.
“Nothing to get out of, and you don’t have to tell him.” Sean plopped down on the narrow hallway stair.
“I will,” Shelly stuck out her tongue and made a silly face.
“Face is gonna freeze like that, then I’ll laugh.” Sean’s blue eyes twinkled with his mischievous smile.
“Be nice Shelly.” Maggie lowered her voice. “Sean, you want to talk about it?”
Sean turned and ran up the stairs.
“See what’d I tell you, Maggie.”
Maggie O’Connor was the second wife of Shamus O’Connor. The mother of Shelly and Sean had perished in a suspicious explosion and fire two years earlier.
“Shelly, tend to the kitchen a minute while I talk with Sean.”
Moments later she stood at the fifteen year old’s door. “Sean, can I come in?”
No response met her question. Maggie turned the handle and entered the world of her young stepson. “Sean?”
“It’s okay Maggie,” said Sean. He was seated on a bench along the window. “I don’t think dad cares anymore, he didn’t say anything the last time I went.” His voice turned defensive.
“He cares Sean.” Maggie eased her way into the room and sat behind Sean on the end of the twin bed. “He told me about it, and it hurts, I understand that, but, believe me he cares. It upsets him when you go.”
“He used to go regularly.”
“He has changed, matured, and he thinks of you two now.”
“I think he ought to go with me.”
“Do you think he really wants to hang on like that. He’s got you and Shelly to be with now.”
“I hope so, I care about him." She looked up. "I don’t want him to go.”
“I see your people there too.”
“Stop that, you are my people, and if you're referring to my brothers,” she paused. “Never mind.” She looked at her hands. “So, you will be there tomorrow? Even if your father does not know?”
“Will you come?”
“What promises do you have this year? Same as last year?” Maggie paused. “Are you going to church first?”
“Think I need to,” his bright eyes sparkled, reflecting the streetlights.
“You need to go because God wants you there, not because you think you need to.”
“Will God walk with us?”
“Maggie,” he didn’t compete his sentence. The downstairs door opened and closed.
“Sean, you have to tell him tonight; tomorrow is New Years and the streets close at noon. He will want to know where you are. I’ll handle Shelly, but you tell him.”
“He was one once, he will understand…Not.” Maggie watched as Sean tucked his Apprentice Boys Parade sweater back into a box in his closet.
From the floor below they heard a husky male voice calling. “Maggie, Sean.”
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