Bytown e3c7: Climb That Tree

MCMFriday, May 15, 2020

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“So I says to him, I says: ‘You take one step further, I’ll shove that boot so far up your arse, you’ll have laces for nose hairs!’” He tipped onto Maggie in a fit of laughter. “An’ an’ an’...”

“Ease up there, Hobley,” said Liam, a few seats away at the head of the table. Not unkindly, but soberly. He gave Maggie a look of apology; she laughed it off.

Hobley righted himself and continued: “And he stops an’ says: ‘I ain’t here to burgle ye, mate. Yer mum just left her knickers in me barn, and I thought she’d like ‘em back.’ And oh, I was right ready to deck ‘im, too, for slander, ‘til he says: ‘By the by, the horse sends his best,’ and I’m gaspin’: ‘*Uncle Henry?*’”

He cackled himself right over, and Maggie couldn’t help but laugh too. She hadn’t been so carefree in so long, it felt a bit alien at first, but the mood throughout Liam’s little house was too joyous to ignore. Fifteen people had showed up at short notice, and every last one of them seemed to be someone worth knowing. It felt like a family, ready-made for any occasion.

Across from her, Colleen raised a glass--her fifth, by Maggie’s count--and gave her a wink. “How’s it suiting you so far?” she called over the din.

“Perfect!” said Maggie. “It’s perfect!”

She saw, from the corner of her eye, Liam’s face graced with a smile, so proud of himself. He was a funny one, that Liam Kelly: self-assured when he wanted to be, handsome without trying, but with a boyish sincerity just beneath the surface. When he’d invited her and Colleen to dinner on this, her last-ever day in Bytown, he was the perfect gentleman, like a prince come to bring his princess to the ball. But when she’d said yes, he’d nearly giggled in glee.

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