The Hunter Family (married with 4 children)
Hazel and Jack, young wife and older husband
Anna, a daughter
The Walsh Family (married with 3 children)
Katherine and Mark, young wife and young husband
Peggy, a daughter
The Hunter family lived on a small dead end road a couple of miles from the Walshs' tree lined street.
A neighbourhood and religious beliefs separated them, but not their daughters. The Walshes were Catholic, while the Hunters were Mormon. Anna and Peggy had come to know each other through a mutual admiration of a boy named Alan at their middle school. Peggy and Anna were thick as theives in their loyalty to each other, so neither had any serious intentions towards Alan. Anyway, they were both too shy to do anything but gossip back and forth to each other. Theirs lives were, as far as boys were concerned, one of fantasties.
Anna came to Church once with the Walshes, and so in turn, had the Hunters taken Peggy to their Church.
The Hunters' Church had special activities for teenagers every third weekend, and Peggy had never had so much fun in her life. Everyone was so polite to her, there wasn't any drinking, and she and Anna had such fun at those events. Therefore, although Peggy's Mom and Dad had never met the entire family, they could not object to their daughter's budding friendship with Anna Hunter. Things would change soon enough, when both would be attending different High Schools.
Peggy had received an invitation to model fashions at Anna's house to take place the following Friday after school. A fashion show party! The invitation had come to the Walshs' mailbox earlier in the week. It was from a Mrs. Hedges, who would be the Hostess for the evening at the Hunter's house. Peggy was really excited, and so was her Mom Katherine, who had agreed to give her only daughter a ride over to the Hunter's place.
It was twilight by the time Katherine and Peggy arrived. There weren't any streetlights at the end of the road, and it had been raining outside. Just then, Jack Hunter's old pick-up truck was pulling in to the Hunters' side lot, and Katherine could make out that he and his boys were able to naviate the territory just fine. The three of them jumped out, avoiding any puddles. Of course they still had on their work clothes and boots, and so began to quickly remove their picks, shovels and other tools of the trade.
As Katherine's husband Mark was waiting for her, she thought it best to drive the few miles back to their own home before it was entirely dark. She hated for Mark to worry about her, and they both felt that their daughter would be in good hands. Time enough to meet Mrs. Hunter another time, thought Katherine. Mark would be picking up Peggy the following day, a Saturday when he didn't have to go into the office. He only had to tie up paperwork at home. Peggy would be giving her parents a phone call after her sleep over at the Hunters'. She and Anna had the whole mornig and afternoon together.
That arrangement suited Mark just fine, as he needed uninteruppted time to finalize his case brief for the prosecution on Monday.
Before pulling away, Katherine took a long look at Peggy. She was blossoming into a fine young lady. Loveliness and and brains all wrapped in her new yellow Easter dress. Peggy had refused to put on her glasses; she had wanted her purple eye shadow to highlight her green eyes. Youth, Katherine mused to herself. She wanted her daughter to be happy. And she was, ever since Anna had taken her out of her shelll. Peg didn't realize that her glasses did nothing to detract from her fair complextion and long brown curls.
"Watch out for the mud, young lady. And don't break any heels!" She couldn't help but chuckle, and Peggy joined in. She gave her Mom a kiss. "Bye, Mom."
Katherine put the car in reverse, and slipped off into the night. With any luck, she thought, her garden would be growing those bulbs she had planted last winter. Spring was indeed on the horizon.
Peggy knocked loudly on the Hunters' door. She could hear the screams and laughter from inside. She smoothed her brown curls and pulled on her dress.
The Hostess answered the door, and Hazel Hunter was right behind her.
"Peg, come on in dear We're just getting started", Hazel's welcoming voice yelled out over the din of noise.
"This here is Mrs. Hedges, our hostess for the evenings festivities, and I believe you know the rest of the girls. Anna's in the back, and she saved this here comfy chair right beside her." Peggy saw that her friend would be sitting on a folding chair. There were lots of folding chairs, mixed in with the comfy bits and pieces. Room enough for everyone.
As the girls chattered, Peggy noted there were one or two that she didn't recognize, but they seemed to know her and all in turn greeted her warmly. Probably some had been at the teenagers parties from the Mormon Church Youth Group. The living room was packed. Peg didn't want to interrupt everyone with introductions, and she was as eager as the rest of them to get started ASAP!
Anna came floating out, looking absolutely dazzling in a green floor length gown. It set off her short red hair to perfection.
"Girls", said Hazel with a sweeping motion to match, "This here is our first model of the evening, my lovely daughter Anna."
Just then Jack and the boys barged in, stomping muddy boots all over Hazel's clean floor. Hazel had a quick work with the three of them privately, and they dissapeared into Hazel and Jack's bedroom and shut the door. They would bunk up there for the evening, and Hazel would sleep in the other room with the baby. Jack promised to check the baby's diaper before falling into bed. It had been a long day, and all of Hazel's "boys" were tuckered out.
The girls got to model everything from lingerie to shorts to mini dresses and gowns, changing outfits in the other back bedroom. Oh what a fun night. Peggy wouldn't forget this night for a very long time. And the best was yet to come, when she and Anna could wisper all night long. Anna had told her that they would have to be quiet as mice, since Jack and her brothers would be up early. Jack had his own business, and Anna's 2 older brothers helped him to collect and then recycle garbage.
"The evening wasn't over until 10 at night, when the other girls' parents began to drive up and come to the Hunters' door.
"Oh darn, not yet!!. Thanks so much, Mrs. Hedges, I had just the greatest time." said Roxanne.
"Me too, Mrs. Hedges. Oh, and Mrs. Hunter thanks ever so for the punch and cookies." chimed in Liz.
One by one, the girls left. Dawn Hedges told Hazel that she would settle out her portion when all of the girls had paid up, and then,
"I'll let you know your cut, Hazel. From the looks of things, tonight went very profitably. I'm sure that you will soon be hostessing one of these parties on your own. Thanks for being a part of it. See you soon, Tuesday alright?"
"You betcha, Dawn, take your time. Anytime next week. I'm sure it will all be worth waiting on."
"It will. Good night then." And off into the night dissapeared the last female of the evenings' festivities.
"Girls, we had quite the time tonight, didn't we? Time for bed now, morning comes early", she yawned, leaving Peggy and Anna to clean up for once. Hazel loved her new baby girl, and each child was a blessing from the Almighty. She and Jack hadn't counted on this pregnancy, and he had upped his beer drinking, but Hazel knew how hard he worked. And, besides, certain things were kept between husband and wife. The Church-goers need never know, and she would see to that. She rocked her baby on their bed, and together, they were both back to sleep. She was a happy, good baby. 'Oh, I love you baby girl', sang Hazel softly, rocking her until she feel into a dreamless, deep sleep.
It didn't take long for the girls to clean out the plastic punch bowl and ladel. Paper cups and plates went quickly into the garbage.
They got tucked into their cots in the entry way, listening to the rain beating on the aluminum roof. The night was theirs, and they made the most of it, chatting about the weekend, and of course, Alan!
Come early morning, Hazel was up just as dawn was breaking. She bent to kiss her baby, rocked her and told her to be a good girl for Anna. Out she came, rubbing her hips, as she wiped the sleep from her eyes. She washed in the kitchen tub next to the washer, then she bent to kiss Anna. Peggy's eyes had opened by then, as Hazel bent to kiss her also. Her kiss felt so warm on Peggy's cheek; it was as if Hazel saw no difference from Peggy to any of the rest of her children.
"Where are you going, Hazel?", asked Peg. Anna was already up, headed towards the back room to check on her baby sister.
"I'm goin' where I always go, to clean the homes that my wealthy customers have. I'm queen for a day, 6 days a week. You go back to sleep now, honey. Young people need their rest and the sun looks like it's gonna wake you up soon enough. Have fun today with Anna and the baby. Jack and the 2 boys left about 10 minutes ago."
Anna and Peg talked the morning away, then Peggy called Mark to pick her up.
Over the phone, Mark replied, "OK, honey, I'm on my way".
The sun was overhead, as Mark pulled into the Hunter's yard. He couldn't believe his eyes. There was trash everywhere. No decent driveway. And, a box where a house should have been.
Peggy had seen her Dad drive up and went out to meet him.
He gave her a kiss, and asked her if she'd had a good time.
"Oh, yes, Daddy. It was SO much fun!"
When they got home, Peggy ran downstairs to unpack her overnight bag and neatly hung her dress in her mirrored closet, changing into something more comfortable.
On the middle floor of the tri-level house, Mark greeted Katherine with, "May I have a word?"
"Sure, what's up? said Katherine.
"Kate, what could have been in your mind, letting Peg sleep over in that trashy place? Why, they don't even have a proper driveway. What's more, I've never even met Jack, now have you met Hazel?"
"Well, no, not yet..........."
"Not ever, do you hear me? I don't bust my butt every day for our Peg to be hanging around people like that. For all we know, 'Jack' could be another "Jack the Ripper".
He gave Katherine a good twist of the arm to drive home his point.
Oh, God help me, thought Katherine as she rubbed her arm. What have I done?